Retirees ready to fight for healthcare benefits after proposed c - WNEM TV 5

Retirees ready to fight for healthcare benefits after proposed cuts

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

A group of Mid-Michigan retirees face a change in health coverage and costlier care.

The county they worked for is cutting costs to save millions of dollars at their expense.

"We all worked to earn these benefits and we need to fight to keep these benefits," said Tim Metro, representative for the Saginaw County Retirees.

Nearly 100 retired workers voted to begin the process of filing a lawsuit against the county. The group calls itself the Saginaw County Retirees and it's mobilized after learning their healthcare benefits will change.

"Leave us alone so we're allowed to live out our lives with the benefits that they promised us," said Cathy Snyder, retiree.

The Saginaw County Board of Commissioners recently voted to move retirees to a Medicare advantage plan after determining they couldn't afford the current plan. They said the change could save the county between $1.5 million and $5 million a year.

The plan will weigh heavier on the 450 some retirees who will pay higher deductibles and co-pays.

The retiree group believes the changes breach the union contracts they agreed to years ago, contracts that included their current benefits.

"It's honest and fair bargaining that we did for years with the county and to have them do this to us, we feel like we're treated like second class citizens," said Bill Gutzwiller, retiree.

The group has raised nearly $5,000 so far. On Thursday they voted to hire a lawyer to represent them.

"They know who we were talking about in good faith when we negotiated those contracts. So our only recourse is to go through the courts," Metro said.

TV5 reached out to country controller Robert Belleman, but have not heard back. He previously said the benefit change is needed to keep the county solvent and the new plan will provide similar coverage as their previous plan.

As for the next step, Metro said they are going to seek legal representation. He urges anyone who may be interested to join the group. You can reach him at 989-642-3493.

Read our previous story on this topic here.

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