Posted Online: May 03, 2012, 10:33 pm

State retirees speak out to protect health care

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By Stephanie Fryer

SPRINGFIELD — State retirees came here Thursday to protest against a measure that could curtail $876 million in taxpayer subsidies for retirees' health care.

Barbara Franklin, a retiree who worked for the University of Illinois for 37 years, said, "I paid year in and year out for my insurance, for my dependents' insurance, with the promise that when I retired if I had more than 20 years, my insurance would be paid for."

Retired state workers and university employees qualify for premium-free state health insurance, if they worked for more than 20 years. A retiree can have 40 percent of their health insurance subsidized after working eight years.

Pending legislation in the Illinois House could limit or even strip Franklin and thousands of other state retirees of their subsidized health insurance. Senate Bill 1313 would allow the Illinois Department of Central Management Services to set premiums annually.

The measure, which has bipartisan support in the House, was approved unanimously by the House Executive Committee on Wednesday. It now awaits a full vote by the House.