Proos votes to end health care benefits for future retired lawmakers

LANSING —The Michigan Senate passed legislation Wednesday to end health care benefits for future retired lawmakers, said Sen. John Proos, who voted for the reform.

“This reform is about being fair and saving taxpayers millions of dollars,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph.  “I voted to end this benefit for retired lawmakers for the same reason that I voted for it in the past: we can’t afford it. Michigan cannot continue to spend $5 million for retiree health care benefits for lawmakers while we are facing budget deficits and people are struggling to make ends meet.”
House Bill 4087 will end the practice that funded 90 percent of health care costs for retired lawmakers from age 55 to age 65, when they would be eligible for Medicare.

“Legislators should continue to lead the way as we make reforms to help solve our state fiscal problems,” Proos said. “I believe each of us must do our part to put the state back on track. I previously voted to cut my pay by 10 percent and force lawmakers to pay 20 percent of their health insurance cost. This reform is another step in our effort to share the sacrifice Southwest Michigan families and individuals across our state have already made.”

The reform measure will strip lifetime benefits from 95 of the 148 sitting legislators, or more than 60 percent. Benefits will remain for existing retirees and for those who have vested by Jan. 1, 2013. The bill returns to the House for concurrence, after which it is expected to go to the governor to be signed into law.