Judge Stops Medicare Discrimination

MAY 2005
- Since we first reported on this issue over four years ago, a federal
judge has once again ruled that employers cannot discriminate against
their retirees when they become eligible for Medicare. Editor's Note:
It bears repeating that Mass. law prohibits the state and
municipalities from reducing or ending benefits to their Medicare
retirees.

As we recently been
reporting, the focus has been on the federal regulation, promulgated by
the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which essentially
allows employers to discriminate against their retirees by reducing or
ending their health benefits when they turn 65 and become eligible for
Medicare.

AARP filed a lawsuit in
federal district court, challenging the EEOC regulation. “While we have
had our differences with AARP, most notably over mandatory Social
Security, we applaud their efforts here,” said Association Counsel Bill
Rehrey. “They were successful when the court granted an injunction to
stop the regulation.”

In her
ruling, US Judge Ann B. Brody relied upon the court's earlier decision
involving Erie County, Pennsylvania. Members recall from our previous
reports that Erie County was the first case in which the federal court
stopped employers from discriminating against their Medicare retirees.

According
to Judge Brody, the court “has already ruled that allowing employers to
give retirees 65 or older health benefits that are inferior… is
illegal.” We've yet to hear the final word on this issue, with the EEOC
appealing Brody's decision to the federal circuit court of appeals.

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