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Letter: Don’t Take Away Retirees’ Health Benefits

If Congress goes forward with national health care reform (currently H.R. 3200), they must incorporate H.R. 1322 to protect health benefits already earned by America’s retirees.

The Emergency Retiree Health Benefits Protection Act (H.R. 1322), which would make corporations live up to the financial commitments they made to their employees during their working years, should be a part of any healthcare reform legislation.

Currently, due to the Supreme Court case Sprague vs. GM, it is perfectly legal to take away a retiree’s healthcare benefit.

I worked for Verizon for 33 years and was consistently told that my health care benefits in retirement would be taken care of by the company.  During my career, I accepted less in wages and paid time off with the understanding that I would receive a retirement package that would include health insurance.

Many Americans are rightly enraged about the proposed health care reform plans. Retirees are among the largest group making their voice heard.  

Why do we care so much?  In the last decade, nearly 8 million retirees have seen their earned health care benefits, for which they sacrificed wages and paid time off to achieve, canceled by their former employers.  The federal government said that this was perfectly legal.  There are another 18.5 million American baby boomers and retirees like me who are dependent on earned health care benefits from our former employer.  We paid for these benefits by accepting lower wages and less vacation and sick days.

Anthony J. Nocito