-Illinois
4:15 am
Wed March 20, 2013

Judge Upholds Health Insurance Law

A Sangamon County judge has upheld a new Illinois law that requires state employees pay for their health insurance upon retirement.

Attorney Don Craven
Attorney Don Craven
Credit Craven Law Office

It is part of the reason many employees kept their jobs in Illinois government for so long.  Put enough years in with the state, and upon retirement the state paid a workers' health insurance premium.

That's how it went.  Until a law passed last year.  It says retirees have to pay at least a portion of their health care costs. How much is determined in union negotiations.

Don Craven is an attorney, who represented state employees who sued over the law. 

"Silly us, we trusted them." -Attorney Don Craven

They claim the state picking up their health insurance tab is a constitutionally-protected benefit.  Illinois' constitution says pension benefits "shall not be diminished or impaired."

But in his ruling, Judge Steve Nardulli says health insurance benefits don't fall under that protection.

Craven says he'll appeal. Governor Pat Quinn says it's a step forward to restoring fiscal stability to Illinois.

Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky contributed to this report.