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Nails on a Chalkboard - CA Districts Look at Cutting Teacher Retiree Health Care

July 26, 2007

Make less money and in exchange, get something down the Road. It's a common deal for California teachers. In exchange, they're promised health insurance after they retire. But because of rising medical costs, some school and college districts are considering cutting retiree health care. California Federation of Teachers president Marty Hittelman says breaking that promise makes teachers mad.

"The employees have taken the coverage of health care into retirement in exchange for lower salaries. So, they've paid for this over a number of years."

Retired teacher Hene Kelly notes that districts across the state are already having a tough time recruiting new, high-quality teachers.

"If they don't have a decent pension to look forward to, and health care to look forward to, you are not going to find teachers."

Berkeley High School math teacher, Jessica Quindel feels health insurance after retirement is one of the things that makes teaching attractive, despite the low pay.

"It seems to me like they're just breaking promises that the government made to us when we signed up to be teachers."

The Governor's Public Employee Post-Employment Benefits Commission is taking up the issue Friday. Hittelman argues that health care costs can be controlled by better educating patients about treatments and outcomes, and reducing medical errors. He believes the long-term solution is universal health-care.

Deborah Smith/Eric Mack, Public News Service - CA