Mass.: Bill calls for changes in state retiree benefits

(AP) – Lawmakers are reviewing Gov. Deval Patrick’s proposal to rein in health care costs for retired public employees.

The Legislature’s Public Service committee heard testimony Thursday on a bill that the administration projects would save up to $20 billion over the next 30 years.

Supporters and critics, including union members, packed the Statehouse hearing.

The changes include increasing from 10 years to 20 years the minimum service requirement before an employee can be eligible for retiree health care benefits.

The bill would also raise the eligibility age for retiree health benefits from 55 to 60 and would reduce the state’s contribution to health care premiums for many workers.

The measure would not affect workers who are already retired.

Patrick said Massachusetts has among the nation’s highest retiree health care costs.

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