Shameful: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission voted Thursday to allow employers to reduce or eliminate health benefits for retirees when they become eligible for Medicare at age 65. The agency approved a final rule saying that such cuts do not violate the civil rights law banning age discrimination. The vote was 3 to 1, with Republicans lining up in favor of the rule and a Democrat opposing it. The AARP is on the right side of this one: A preamble to the final rule says it "is not intended to encourage employers to eliminate any retiree health benefits they may currently provide." But Michele Pollak, a lawyer at AARP, said that might well occur. "This rule will allow employers to reduce or eliminate retiree health benefits for anyone over the age of 65," Ms. Pollak said. "More than 12 million Medicare beneficiaries currently receive retiree health benefits from employers and could potentially be affected." The NEA, alas, is standing on the wrong side, and sounding too much like a craft union for my tastes while doing it: Alfred Campos, a lobbyist for the National Education Association, praised the rule, saying, "It will encourage school districts to continue providing health insurance to retired teachers under 65." I'm afriad that any retired teachers under 65 who believe the NEA is protecting them by letting their older peers' benefits get slashed are in for a rude and undeserved awakening ahead.


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