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Most Michigan Legislators Lose Retiree Health Coverage

Cutoff affects Troy 's new representative; senator exempt because of seniority.

One of Royal Oak's two state legislators, first-term Rep. Jim Townsend, loses  retiree health insurance under a law cancelling that benefit for future Michigan lawmakers and most current ones.

Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday afternoon signed a measure ending medical coverage for ex-lawmakers, a 54-year-old benefit that cost about $5.3 million in the last budget year.

The law's language, resulting from a compromise between the House and Senate, preserves future benefits for members who've qualified for them or will do so by the time this session ends Jan. 1, 2013. Senators voted 37-1 in favor of that bill Oct. 5 and the House went along a day later in a 96-11 vote.

Clawson's other legislator, Sen. John Pappageorge of Troy, first was elected to the House in 1998. That means he'll qualify for medical coverage after retiring at the end of 2014 because of term limits. He also represents Berkley, Birmingham, Royal Oak, Bloomfield Hills and Bloomfield Township.

About four dozen other legislators also keep medical coverage once they turn 55, according to the Associated Press. When  an ex-lawmaker becomes eligible for Medicare, the benefit expires or is good only for supplemental coverage.

Rep. Marty Knollenberg, a Republican representing Troy and Clawson, told the Detroit Free Press that he preferred ending the "ridiculous perk" for everyone, but considers the compromise a worthwhile move.

Language passes earlier this year by the House would have limit the benefits to those who became qualified participants in the system before Jan. 1, 2007. The vast majority of current lawmakers would not have been eligible under that plan.

Members of the Michigan Legislature receive a base salary of $71,650 per year, the second-highest level after California.

These lists show how the new law affects Southeast Oakland lawmakers:

Affected               

  • Sen. Vincent Gregory, first term representing Huntington Woods, Ferndale and other areas after two years in the House.
  • Rep. Ellen Cogin Lipton, second term representing Berkley, Ferndale, Huntington Woods and other areas. 
  • Rep. Jim Townsend, first term representing Royal Oak and Madison Heights.
  • Rep. Tom McMillan, second term representing Rochester, Rochester Hills, Oakland Township and other areas.
  • Rep. Lisa Brown, second term representing West Bloomfield, Commerce Township and Wolverine Lake.
  • Rep. Gail Haines, second term representing a northwest part of West Bloomfield.

Not affected

  • Sen. Steven Bieda, a legislator since starting a House term in 2003. His Senate district includes Oakland Township, Rochester and Rochester Hills.
  • Sen. Mike Kowall, who has four years of House service (1999-2003) and began a Senate term this year.
  • Rep. Chuck Moss, representing Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills and Bloomfield Township since 2007.
  • Rep. Marty Knollenberg, representing Troy and Clawson since 2007.
BrianColeman October 19, 2011 at 09:19 AM
When my husband and I planned for an early retirement we were both in our 50's. Not only were we retiring, but we were moving to Nashville, TN. Since we resigned from our jobs, we knew we would have to buy health insurance and dental insurance in Tennessee. We purchased a PPO family plan, for just my husband and me, through "Penny Health" . We paid for the family plan ourselves, initially, the cost was a little less than $400 a month for both of us. Our co-pay was very reasonable at $25 each per office visit.

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