The non-Medicare eligible 500. And shrinking.


My 39th State Representative Will Guzzardi.

There was Jeri Shanahan’s name on my iPhone when it rang yesterday.

If you read this blog you know Jeri.

She is the retired teacher who retired too long ago to qualify for Medicare.

Here is what I wrote in August.

Ms Shanahan is a retired Illinois teacher who is not Medicare eligible. According to the law she doesn’t qualify for Medicare because she retired too many years ago.

If she moved to Arizona or Florida she would pay half of what she pays for health insurance. She chooses to remain in Illinois, so she gets socked.

A bill was introduced in the Illinois legislature to address this situation that impacts maybe 500 retired very elderly teachers.

Ms Shanahan told me the bill failed. It had either the opposition or no support by the IFT and the IEA. Ms Shanahan wasn’t sure and I couldn’t find out.

The position of the IEA and other organizations that represent teacher retirees seems to be that since this is only an issue that impacts less than 500 teachers in the state, they have to be concerned with the majority.

“What if I said that about my students when I was teaching?” Ms Shanahan said to me on the phone yesterday. “What if I said I could only be concerned with the majority of students and not with the ones with special needs?”

“Good point,” I said.

Last August I sent my post and a Trib article about the issue to my state representative, Will Guzzardi. He wrote me back saying he would sign on to legislation in the coming session.

“I talked with Will’s office,” Ms Shanahan told me. “They were so polite. They listened to everything I said and promised to work on it.”

She called him “Will. ” I know Guzzardi genuinely likes that.

Anyway. Ms Shanahan was just checking in.

But we spoke frankly about what is really happening here. The numbers of those in her situation are declining through attrition. That’s a polite way of saying they are dying.

That’s what the union leadership is saying when they talk about the needs of the majority.

One IEA Retired leader reacted by telling Ms Shanahan to go get a job to meet the required quarters to qualify for Medicare. I’m not going to ask Jeri Shanahan’s age. But trust me. She’s not getting a job.

There were 600 retired teachers affected when I first heard from Jeri Shanahan about this.

There are less than 500 now.

It’s a waiting game when it comes to old folks.

We don’t last forever.

4 Replies to “The non-Medicare eligible 500. And shrinking.”

  1. Hello, Fred. You won’t remember me , but we met at a couple of the NEA national conventions.

    This issue of the 500 infuriates me , for a very personal reason.

    FYI, and feel free to share the information.

    A very good friend of mine ( retired teacher, no Medicare) died on 26 August. She had been to a specialist in June to discuss a colostomy. That doctor recommended the procedure. However, he was not in the HMO , and she did not have the $50,000 cash to pay for it. Even after explaining how serious her condition was, the soonest she could get an appointment was 8 September. She didn’t live that long.

    Honestly, I cannot say that the colostomy would have solved her problems, because she faced several issues- however, at the least her quality of life would gave been greatly improved, and at the most, the operation may have saved her life. She never had the opportunity to find out.

    The fact that the IEA had the chance to address this insurance issue and chose not to do so is sickening. (You reported this in an earlier blog-I certainly never heard about this in any IEA publication).

    I intend to contact the IEA and ask them to reconsider its position in this matter. I truly hope we don’t need to stand by and watch the remaining teachers in this situation die, one by one, while we have it in our power to help even one.

    Thanks for all you do on behalf of students and teachers in our state, Fred.

    Frank Marks, retired teacher

  2. I am not sure I understand this. If you don’t have enough quarters for Medicare Part A, you pay for it. You still get Medicare once you are 65 but it costs more than if you have all 40 quarters. So how are these folks not eligible at all? Is it a matter of paying for it or is it that they cannot get Medicare no matter how much they pay in premiums? Confused.

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