AFSCME urges affordable health care for City of Chicago retirees
With a June 30 deadline looming to determine the future of health care benefits for City of Chicago retirees, AFSCME testified before a City Council committee urging a solution that keeps insurance affordable for retirees.
The City Council’s Workforce Development and Audit Committee hearing on January 30 followed the release of a report by a panel appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The city must adopt a new plan due to the expiration of the Korshak settlement, which has locked in affordable health insurance costs for retirees since the late 1980s.
Testifying at the hearing, Scott Adams, AFSCME Council 31’s Director of Research & Employee Benefits, noted the many challenges already facing retired city retirees:
- The average pension in 2011 for retirees in the Chicago Municipal Employees Annuity and Benefit Fund was $32,269 or $2,689 a month.
- City of Chicago retirees do not receive Social Security so their pension is, in most cases, their only source of income.
- One-third of retirees in the Municipal and Laborers funds are not eligible for Medicare.
- A retiree, with at least 20 years of service and who is not eligible for Medicare, currently pays $295 to $338 a month for their share of the health care premium.
“Many retirees are barely getting by today and are having difficulty keeping up with the rising costs of health care copays and deductibles,” Adams said. “Health care premium increases are not to be taken lightly.”
At the hearing, city Comptroller Amer Ahmad focused largely on moving retirees over to health plans that will be offered by the exchanges mandated by the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare. However, Adams noted, these exchanges will not be up and running until months after the June 30 deadline and it is impossible to predict the quality of plans that will be offered, or what their out-of-pocket costs will be.
“Exchanges may reward some retirees with more affordable coverage while pricing other retirees out of health care,” Adams said. “If the exchange proved a viable alternative, the City would certainly need to provide subsidies to retirees to ensure that the costs would be affordable to all.”
AFSCME is urging all City of Chicago retirees to contact their alderman immediately to urge them to support a solution that maintains affordable care for retired city workers and reject any proposal that would leave retirees with poor health coverage – or none at all.