AARP Seeks U.S. Supreme Court Ruling That EEOC Lacks Authority To Allow Employers To Reduce Health Care Benefits For Medicare-Eligible Retirees

AARP has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review whether the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had the authority to issue a Dec. 26, 2007, regulation that allows employers to legally eliminate or reduce health benefits for retirees when they reach age 65 and become eligible for Medicare while retaining benefits for retirees under age 65, CQ HealthBeat reports (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 1/3).

The ruling allows employers to create two classes of retirees -- those younger than age 65 and those older than 65 -- and offer different benefits to each group. In addition, the ruling allows employers to eliminate or reduce benefits provided to spouses or dependents of retirees older than 65. EEOC proposed the rule in response to a 2000 U.S. Court of Appeals decision that required benefits to be offered at the same level for Medicare-eligible retirees and those younger than 65 (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 1/2). A June 2007 decision by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals found that EEOC has the authority to create the exemption under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.