Rauner going after state retired teacher health care partial subsidy is unconstitutional. The courts have already ruled.


Reading the reports of Governor Rauner’s budget address some would think that he wants to go after teacher pensions AND the state subsidy to retired teachers’ health insurance benefits

But that isn’t true.

The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that health care benefits are pension benefits and fall under the pension protection clause of the Illinois Constitution.

They are one and the same.

Neither can be diminished or impaired.

About 77,000 people are covered by the Teacher Retired Insurance Program, known by its acronym, TRIP.

Funding for the TRIP program comes from four sources: the state subsidy, local school districts, currently active state teachers and premiums paid by people enrolled in the program.

Retired teachers pay premiums as part of the program. The monthly premiums vary widely depending on the plan selected.

Monthly premiums are about $246 for someone up to age 64 who is in an HMO and not covered by Medicare. For the same person age 65 and over the monthly cost is $336. For someone in Medicare, regardless of age, the cost is about $97 a month.

Retired teachers like me cover about 33 percent of the program costs.

The state subsidy covers roughly 25 percent of the program cost.

That is the money the governor wants to eliminate.

In the unlikely event that the legislature would agree to Rauner’s proposal, it would immediately be challenged in court.

He would lose.

The Court has already ruled in the Kanerva case that the pension protection clause protects more than the pension annuity.  It protects all  benefits of membership in a pension system, including health insurance benefits.

In 2015, the administration said it wanted to change employee health insurance through negotiations with unions.

But in the case of Matthews v. CTA the Illinois court ruled that collective bargaining does not bind retirees. While the Supreme Court held that constitutionally protected pension rights can be waived through collective bargaining,  the collective bargaining does not extend to current retirees.

The plaintiff in the Matthews case who was already retired when changes to pension rights were approved in collective bargaining was not bound by that decision and kept his pre-existing pension rights.

6 thoughts on “Rauner going after state retired teacher health care partial subsidy is unconstitutional. The courts have already ruled.

    1. The Supreme Court has refused to hear our case twice and we are back in the appellate court with Judge Cohen whose wife was once the chief of staff for Daley Administration. Some back story…..we were put on exorbitant premiums from the city from 2014-2016 to wean us off the city subsidy. In 2017 they came up with premiums for single annuitants in the 1500 a month range and annuitant and spouse around 3000. With family around 3700. Most had to find other insurance that didn’t take up their entire paycheck. Hence obamacare for most in 2017 and now 2018. Personally I have a bronze obamacare plan that is 1500 dollars a month for a couple in early 60’s. Deductibles of 6000 each. So plan is useless unless you have cancer you won’t go bankrupt. So currently we are at the mercy of Judge Cohen who seems to be siding with the funds and city. Who knows at this point what they are still litigating for.

      1. This is horrible! That’s so expensive that a lot of people will end up spending all their savings and home equity in just a few years. 1500 a month = 18000 a year + 6000 deductible = $24000 per year out of pocket before insurance pays anything.
        That amount will cause many retirees to end up in bankruptcy just from the cost of the insurance, even if they don’t get sick. Even worse, some will delay going to the doctor or wait on expensive diagnostic tests until it is too late, because of the $6000 deductible. Also, the stress and worry about paying this large insurance payment can aggravate blood pressure and cause heart attacks, strokes, and other health problems.
        The cost will go down when/if retirees reach 65 and go on Medicare, assuming they have enough years paying into Medicare. Are city employees covered by social security and Medicare? Quite a few TRS/SURS retirees were not covered by Medicare from their public employment, but had worked in other employment that did have social security and Medicare. Social security then stole most of their earned social security benefits because of their government pension. They left the Medicare coverage intact, but there are some retired teachers and other retirees who were not in Medicare long enough (or at all) to get Medicare coverage. Some of them take another job in fast food or retail to get Medicare credits. Some are not able to do so because of their health.

  1. Chicago Tribune, Sunday February 8, 2004, Section 4, Metro West.
    Headline: “City O’Hare tab soars to $14.8 billion”. The article then says the 14.8 billion does not include an additional $3.9 billion in road and mass-transit projects near the airport that the city itself said are “critical to the success of it’s modernization plan”.
    Chicago Sun Times Sunday February 25, 2018: “City Hall close on $8.5 billion O’Hare expansion deal”.
    $14.8 billion + $3.9 billion + $8.5 billion = $27.2 billion
    Hmmm, I think I see where the money that Rahm is saving by cutting off Chicago retirees medical insurance might be going. The same applies to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund which the city skipped payments on and now is trying to get out of paying. They collected the tax money, where did it go?

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