House Republicans abandon efforts to reform retiree health care

Massive protest turns into victory rally in Lansing

By Guy Gordon - Reporter/Anchor, Derick Hutchinson

LANSING, Mich. - A massive protest became a victory rally Tuesday as retiree health care was saved for first responders.

City and county employees declared the victory in Lansing as House Republicans abandoned efforts to reform retiree health care in the lame duck session. But it still faces contentious discussion in the new year as many local governments face possible bankruptcy due to high health care costs.

Minutes before the anticipated committee vote and angry testimony from first responders, committee leaders tabled the controversial bills, saying they need more information and more time.

First responders, who called the push to pass reforms in 10 days reckless, are promised a seat at the table in the new session. Statewide, municipalities face an estimated $11 billion funding shortfall for retiree health care.

Tuesday's bills would have prohibited retiree health care from being negotiated in the future.

For new hires, traditional retiree coverage would go away, replaced by tax-deferred health savings accounts. Tuesday's bills would have required current workers and retirees to pay 20 percent or more of premiums, beginning in May.

Future debate is certain, but future reforms are not.

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