Gov. Pat Quinn (D-IL) has approved a law that will penalize retirees by requiring them to pay additional taxes in order to receive health insurance, starting July 1. There are 78,000 retirees who will be affected. Each year, the state’s administration will set premiums for the group health program.
The program had been one of the most generous in the country; free premium insurance was given to legislators after four years of retirement, judges got it free after six years, and state and university employees got it after 20 years of service.
But the annual cost in Illinois had risen to nearly $800 million and was estimated to reach $1 billion in the new fiscal year.
As per usual when the government gets involved, the most successful people are the most damaged; each retiree will be assessed according to the size of their pension.
Quinn defended his actions by saying that insurance costs have been inequitable and should be based on retirees’ incomes, saying, “We also have a duty to taxpayers to ensure these plans are cost-efficient and put Illinois on the path to fiscal stability.”
But the president of the retirees chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Virginia Yates, called Quinn’s comments “political doubletalk.”
“Seniors like me and 114,000 other retirees and dependents already pay $3,000 a year or more in co-pays, deductibles and premiums. By cutting retiree health care at the same time he’s handing out hundreds of millions in tax giveaways to big corporations, Governor Quinn shows his priorities are out of touch.”
When even Pat Quinn is thinking austerity, you know America is in serious financial trouble.