Retiree Benefits are Earned and Should Be Respected

December 22, 2010

 In “Retiree Benefits Are Cheating Our Children,” his latest column for Newsweek Magazine, Robert J. Samuelson urges state and local governments to reduce or eliminate health care benefits for retirees. Extend Health feels that Mr. Samuelson’s suggestion is unfair to the teachers, firefighters, police, and yes, even the administrative personnel who took  jobs in the public sector in good faith that a lifetime of service for the public good would not put their or their families’ health and well being at risk when they retired.

We suggest that there’s a better way. State and local governments facing budget-busting health care liabilities can use a Medicare exchange now and get better buying power for their Medicare-eligible retirees with actuarial certainty of future spending. In 2014, early retirees can use the new state-run exchanges to buy individual policies at competitive prices, and their employers can manage long-term financial obligations by limiting their contribution – without breaking commitments made in good faith to people who chose a life of service. It’s a win-win solution that is working today – so that neither retirees nor their children and grandchildren are cheated.

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