California county suspends health care subsidy for retirees

MODESTO, Calif. — About 2,500 public service retirees and eligible beneficiaries in Stanislaus County won't receive stipends next year to pay for health insurance.

With its pension fund reeling from investment losses, the Stanislaus County Employees’ Retirement Association voted today to suspend the health benefit for 2010. Retirees have received up to $370 per month to help with the rising costs of health insurance.

Board Member Wes Hall’s motion to study another option failed by a single vote. A proposal that surfaced today would have provided retirees with smaller payments based on retirement income.

Retired employees warned that suspension of the benefit will hurt older and disabled members. The board could reinstate the benefit in future years if the pension fund is in better shape.

The retirement board administers benefits for retirees of the county, city of Ceres, Superior Courts and five special districts. About 200 retirees and current employees attended the meeting in the county Board of Supervisors chambers.