Providence retirees win first legal round on health coverage
Rhode Island Superior Court Judge Sara Taft-Carter has granted retired Providence cops and firefighters a preliminary injunction barring the city from shifting the retirees from city-paid private health insurance to the federal Medicare program.
The 47 page decision is likely the first round in a high-stakes legal scrum that will decide how far cash-strapped Providence can go in reducing health-care costs by amending union contracts.
Under union contracts, the retirees have city-paid health benefits for life under the private Blue Cross plan. Retirees argue that the city cannot unilaterally take those benefits away.
The city argues that the soaring costs of health care have jeopardized city finances. The Providence City Council approved an ordinance allowing the change, but Judge Sara Taft-Carter stated that the issues surrounding the retiree health care issue merit a further hearing in court.
No word yet on what Mayor Angel Taveras position will be, but with the city budget awash in red ink, it would be surprising if the mayor and city council did not pursue all legal avenues.