**** Appeal filed in retiree health care suit *****

Last month Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge Stephen Nardulli granted the state’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit backed by The PBPA and other unions seeking to overturn a new Illinois law (Public Act 97-695). The law, enacted by the General Assembly in 2011, ordered the Illinois Department of Central Management Services to develop a premium payment schedule for all SERS and SURS retirees. Previously, most state retirees did not have to contribute toward their individual premiums, although they paid toward dependent premiums as well as copays and deductibles.

The plaintiffs are arguing that the law (originally SB 1313 which was opposed by the PBPA) violates the Illinois constitution’s prohibition against the diminishment of retirement benefits. Three other lawsuits were filed based on the same fundamental claim—and the court consolidated all four of the suits in considering whether to allow the case to proceed.

Unfortunately, Judge Nardulli accepted the state’s argument that the constitutional prohibition against diminishment of benefits applies only to pensions, not health care coverage. The judge dismissed all four lawsuits that had been filed.

The plaintiffs and our union partners have filed an appeal of Judge Nardulli’s decision at the Appellate Court level. We will also file a motion at the Illinois Supreme Court requesting that the Court directly hear the case. If the Supreme Court agrees to such a hearing, a final ruling could come sooner and the case could be returned to circuit court for a full hearing on its merits.