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Bill would use stimulus cash to pay for Delphi retirees’ health care

September 12, 2000      detnews.com

 

 

Bill would use stimulus cash to pay for Delphi retirees’ health care

 

Measure would divert stimulus funds to pay retirees’ health care

 

DAVID SHEPARDSON

Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, introduced legislation that would shift up to $3 billion from the $787 billion stimulus bill approved in February to pay for health care coverage for about 65,000 retirees and their dependents.

The bill would create a Voluntary Employees’ Beneficiary Association, or VEBA, to provide health coverage to hourly workers in the IUE-CWA, United Steelworkers and other unions along with salaried Delphi retirees.

"Delphi retirees worked hard and played by the rules, but are now seeing their health benefits eliminated or greatly reduced," Brown said. "This bill invests in their service by ensuring Delphi retirees have access to the health care they earned."

A companion bill has been introduced in the House by Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, and has 10 co-sponsors, including Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Livonia.

"There was a promise made that health benefits would be available for Delphi employees when they entered their golden years and we are going to leave no stone unturned in our effort to see that they get what they’ve earned," Ryan said.

In February, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain approved Delphi’s efforts to cancel its salaried retiree health care and life insurance, a move that ended benefits for 15,000 people including many in Michigan and Ohio, and saves the Troy-based auto supplier more than $70 million annually.

Delphi estimated that it will cost the average retiree between $305 and $666 a month to maintain coverage, while a family could see yearly premiums of up to $22,400. Dental coverage would add another $44 to $123 per month, depending on whether an individual or family sought coverage.

Canceling the benefits will save Delphi $200 million through 2011 and cut the company’s long-term liabilities by nearly $1.2 billion. Delphi also terminated its salaried pension plan, turning it over to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.

Earlier this month, General Motors Co. agreed to pay another $50 million to partially fund health benefits for nearly 50,000 Delphi hourly retirees and their dependents, union officials said.

The deal will allow GM to end coverage for Medicare-eligible retirees.

There are about 6,200 United Steelworkers and dependents and 41,000 IUE-CWA retirees who are affected by the changes in benefits. The unions had warned the retirees would lose, in total, about $3.5 billion in benefits.

The GM agreement also provides $10,000 life insurance coverage that does not reduce with age.

— A Senate bill introduced Friday would pay for health care coverage for tens of thousands of Delphi Corp. retirees who have lost their insurance.

 

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