Emanuel announces next move in plan to shift city retirees to Ob - Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

Emanuel announces next move in plan to shift city retirees to Obamacare

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Mayor Rahm Emanuel says his plan to move most retired city workers onto Obamacare would save taxpayers up to $500 million a year. But unions are fighting him in court.

Emanuel said city retirees are getting formal notices this week about coverage they'll have in 2014: Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO network and prescription coverage for those under-65 and Medicare supplemental coverage for those 65 and older. He quoted a recent study that found long-term costs threatening to break the backs of city taxpayers.

"What costs the taxpayers today $110 million is, in short order time, gonna become $500 million. It's a $10 billion unfunded liability," Emanuel said.

With Springfield having done nothing about the even bigger crisis of unfunded public employee pensions, reducing other costs, including health insurance, has become critical for Chicago's taxpayers.

The union that represents Chicago police officers, however, has filed a lawsuit with the lead plaintiff retired cop Michael Underwood, who was once shot in the line of duty. They said they'll ask a federal judge next month to block the health insurance changes the mayor plans for Jan. 1, 2014.

"The benefit is being diminished. And, therefore, we have a Constitutional right to it. And we're going to continue our argument in Federal Court that the City of Chicago is violating the retired police officers and city workers Constitutional rights," said FOP Lodge 7 President Michael Shields.

The city said it would allow the oldest retirees to remain on the existing health care plan for the rest of their lives, but with reduced subsidies for those who are better off financially.

There will be premium subsidies for those with incomes up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level.

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