Cincinnati Workers Fight Health Coverage Cuts

December 30, 2010 ( – A group of city of Cincinnati employees are trying to convince an Ohio state court judge that local officials are obligated to provide them for the rest of their lives with their current health plan with generous benefits.

A Cincinnati Enquirer news story said the workers made that argument during a court hearing before Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Norbert Nadel.

The newspaper said the city countered by contending that it had never promised it would not change the medical plan; the city last year raised the deductibles and co-payments. Nadel is hearing the workers’ lawsuit filed after November 2009 health plan changes.

The plan currently costs the city about $5 million per month. The Cincinnati Retirement System is facing a projected $1-billion deficit, the news report said.

Two former city employees testified Tuesday that retirement handbooks and briefings by city pension officials led them to believe that the city could not, to use a phrase retirees’ attorney Jim McCarthy cited repeatedly, “reduce, change, revoke or eliminate” their health coverage after they retired, the Enquirer reported. The two former workers testified that had they known that their future health coverage could be cut, they likely would have worked longer to earn additional benefits, according to the Enquirer.