Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Friday, May 20, 2005

AARP and The Retiree Health Benefit Conundrum

As a casual follower of benefits law, I have been following the dispute between AARP and the EEOC over a law that would allow employers to offer different tiers of retiree medical benefits, depending on whether or not the retiree is eligible for medicare. Some retirees who had great retirement medical benefits, supported by AARP, have so far blocked through litigation an EEOC regulation that would make that possible. Check out my earlier post, 2nd Round of the Day to the Old Folks As Well.

The bigger problem is that if AARP remains successful, the logical consequence is that fewer employers will offer any retirement medical benefits at all, a result that is not likely to be in the interests of most members of AARP. The Blue Cross, Blue Shield Health Issues website has a good overview of the the problem, AARP's Daunting Dilemma.

The only solution that would seem to solve AARP's problem would be to mandate employers to provide such benefits; an idea whose time really has not come. If anything, it appears Congress might step in on the side of business and the EEOC to trump the ongoing AARP litigation. In many respects, it does seem to be a basic policy decision, which in my view makes Congress the place it should be resolved.

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