Senate Committee Schedules Hearing on Retiree Health Benefits, Erie Case

May 21, 2001 ( - The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on trends in retiree health benefits.

In a session titled, “Ensuring a healthy and secure retirement: Are retiree health benefits the weakest link?” the hearing will address trends in retiree health benefits and possible changes in the future.

Problems with access to health benefits are greatest among the retired, according to a committee press release.

A report by the General Accounting Office on the status and trends in retiree health benefits will be released at the hearing.

Erie Impact

Also expected on the agenda is discussion regarding the potential impact of the Erie County Decision on health plans for all workers, according to BNA.  That decision held that employee benefit plans that treat retirees differently based on the retirees’ Medicare eligibility violate the Age Discrimination in Employment Act – unless it meets the equal benefit or equal cost standard of the ADEA’s safe harbor provision.

Many employers and industry observers believe the decision could have a very negative impact on the continued availability of employer-sponsored retiree medical programs.


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