Nofs: Ending health care benefits for future retired lawmakers the right thing to do

LANSING—The Michigan Senate approved legislation Wednesday to end health care benefits for retired state legislators, said Sen. Mike Nofs, who supported the measure.

“I have voted to end this benefit in the past and did so today because it is the right thing to do,” said Nofs, R-Battle Creek. “Michigan workers in both the public and private sectors do not get retirement health care benefits after only six years of work, and neither should lawmakers.”

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.

“Michigan can no longer afford this benefit for our elected public servants, especially considering the state’s recent budget deficits,” Nofs said. “Last year these benefits cost the state $5.3 million. By making this reform, we will save taxpayers millions of dollars as the benefits are phased out.

“Unfortunately, to avoid legal challenges, this reform only affects lawmakers not already vested, although this is still more than 60 percent of the members.”

The reform measure will strip lifetime benefits from 95 of the 147 current legislators. 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.