Legislation giving retired educators and retired state employees their first health benefits increase in six years is on its way to the House for consideration. That’s after language by Sen. Jeff Rabon was approved by the full Senate late Tuesday afternoon as an amendment to HB 2986.
When benefits were last raised during the 2000 session, they were increased from $75 a month to $105. Rabon’s amendment would nearly double the current state benefit of $105 a month for health care to $205 dollars.
“This has been a tremendous concern for both our retired teachers and our retired state workers. They’re trying to make it on a fixed income with a medical benefit that hasn’t been increased since July 1, 2000,” explained Rabon, D-Hugo. “I know some of them spend a large part of their monthly pension check on health care. They desperately need an increase in their health benefits.”
There are currently 13,916 retired state employees who would benefit from the $100 increase in health benefits and 25,381 retired teachers who would be eligible. Rabon urged House members to approve the legislation as soon as possible.
Rabon said he was hopeful that legislators would not leave those Oklahomans at the bottom rung of the ladder behind in order to approve necessary tax cuts. He urged retired state employees and teachers to contact their representatives and ask for their support on the measure.
“We’re talking about more than 39,000 retirees who really are struggling to make it right now—they need our help and we are in a position to do that right now,” Rabon said. “These are men and women who devoted their lives to teaching generations of Oklahoma children and helping provide our state with healthcare and countless other services. Now it is up to the House to make sure they get the increase in health care benefits they need and deserve.