News outlets offer several articles on how retiree health care costs continue to be an issue for both industries and cities.
The Wall Street Journal: Retired Coal Miners Fight To Retain Health Benefits
Chief Executive Bennett Hatfield reiterated that the company's bankruptcy filing last July stemmed from weak coal markets "coupled with increased costs and unsustainable legacy liabilities." He argued that Patriot's "labor and retiree benefit costs have risen to levels that simply cannot be sustained" amid shrinking demand for coal. Instead, Patriot would like to create a trust with a maximum of $300 million from future profit-sharing to fund some level of retiree health benefits, far below its current retiree health liability of $1.6 billion. Some industry experts say Patriot also needs to shed retiree coverage because the health plans make its overall labor costs far higher than those of its nonunion competitors (Maher, 3/17).
The Associated Press: Study: Cities Have $12.7B In Retiree Health Costs
Michigan cities and townships that provide health care for retired public workers face nearly $13 billion in unfunded costs, according to a report released Thursday, with half setting aside no money to cope with a bill gobbling up more of their budgets. The sobering study, released the same day an emergency financial manager was assigned to Detroit, shows the city is not alone in grappling with how to pay promised health benefits to retirees. More than 300 cities, townships and villages – home to two-thirds of state residents – face a combined $12.7 billion in unfunded liabilities in the next 30 years (Eggert, 3/16).