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Court Backs Illinois Retirees on Health Care

by Olivia Sanbothe  |  July 03, 2014

In a major blow to a state plan that would have imposed new costs on retired state workers, the Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that the health benefits included in pension packages are protected under state law.

Workers with AFSCME Council 31 and allied unions will be allowed to go forward with a lawsuit challenging a 2012 law that threatened retiree health benefits. The law would have forced retirees to pay exorbitant new premiums on their health benefits.  Pension benefits are guaranteed under the Illinois state constitution.

"The Supreme Court ruled today that men and women who work to provide essential public services can count on the Illinois Constitution to mean what it says," said Council 31 Executive Director Henry Bayer. "Retirement security, including affordable health care and a modest pension, cannot be revoked by politicians.”

The workers will still have to fight their case in court, but the 6-1 ruling that allowed the case to move forward is an “extraordinarily encouraging sign,” according to an attorney involved in the case.

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