House Committee Votes on Retiree Health Care Bills

Executive Sessions for HB 653 and HB 645 were held today, Wednesday, February 8, 2017.

HB 645 – This is the bill that would end retiree health insurance for any state employee hired after July 1, 2017, and puts ALL RETIREES IN THE STATE, present and future, into a voucher-style system, which rather than providing a defined insurance benefit, provides a set amount of money with which to buy insurance on the open market.

By a 17- 1 committee vote, this billed was voted Inexpedient to Legislate. The full House will vote on the committee’s strong recommendation and, if as expected, they support it, the bill is effectively eliminated for the biennium.

Thank you for all your efforts to fight back against this grab at our retirement benefit. When we work together, we make a difference!

HB 653 – This is the bill that would institute a minimum of 12.5 percent health insurance premium contribution from over-65 and Medicare-eligible retirees, instating a tax on our retirees.

By a 10-9 committee vote, this bill was retained by the committee. This means that the full House will not vote on this bill in 2017. Instead, the committee will work on the bill during the year to determine if they can agree on language for presenting to the House in 2018.

Important: We are expecting some version of the language in the bill, sponsored by Neal Kurk, to be brought up in the budget hearings over the next few weeks.  More work is needed here. Continue to contact your representatives in opposition to institute this through the budget.

Click here to find your representative on the NH House of Representatives website.

The State of New Hampshire must live up to the obligations it has made to public sector workers. After dedicating years of public service, workers hope to retire with dignity and have the assurances made to them remain intact. Many spend years carefully planning their retirement around promises made to them when they began work. Instituting a premium contribution on our senior citizens will have a cruel impact – many will easily wind up spending their retirement years living in poverty.

The State of New Hampshire is grappling with recruiting and retaining a high-quality workforce across all segments of state service. The classification system is antiquated and ineffective, with many jobs lagging so far behind the pay scale some vacancies remain open for months. Reducing retirement benefits will only serve to increase the recruitment and retention gap that exists. 

Finally, it is outrageous the supporters of these bills will force current and future retirees into poverty and reduce the state’s ability to attract quality candidates, so they can turn around and provide tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy. Giving tax breaks at the expense of seniors who dedicated their lives to public service is immoral and absolutely unacceptable.

Take action today. Call your representative.

If you are a nonmember, consider joining the SEA today. Because retirement benefits are not part of our collective bargaining agreement, we are prohibited from using agency fee funds to advocate for these benefits. The fight to protect retirement benefits is borne solely by members.

Please join today and add your voice to our growing chorus calling for the state to live up to the promises made to us.

If you know a non-member, share this message. Persuade them to join us in this fight.

Click here to join.

Click here to contribute to SEAPAC: SEAPAC is our voluntary political-action fund that provides resources to protect your retirement benefits.  A few dollars a week can make all the difference.

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