Illinois Retiree Health Care Challenge Dismissed

March 22, 2013 ( – Illinois can move forward with plans to charge retirees premiums for their health care benefits.

A judge for the 7th Judicial Circuit in Illinois ruled health insurance benefits “are not guaranteed pension benefits protected by the Pension Protection Clause” of the Illinois Constitution, the Peoria JournalStar reports. Judge Steve Nardulli dismissed four lawsuits filed by retirees attempting to stop the premiums.  

The state’s legislature voted last year to start charging premiums for retiree health insurance benefits (see “No More Free Health Insurance for Ill. State Retirees”). According to the news report, employees who retired with 20 or more years of service qualify for premium-free insurance, but still have to pay for dependent coverage, co-pays and other out-of-pocket expenses.  

The JournalStar said Nardulli rejected the argument that premium-free health insurance was a contractual promise made to retirees by the department of Central Management Service (CMS) and the Illinois State Employees Retirement System (SERS), saying even if someone accepts the idea that promises were made, “Representatives of CMS and SERS cannot bind the General Assembly.”  

In a statement, Governor Pat Quinn said, “I am pleased with the court’s action today to uphold this important law. This is good news for the taxpayers and another step forward in our effort to restore fiscal stability to Illinois.”