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Rep. John F. Tierney, D-Mass., plans to introduce a bill to prevent companies from cutting medical benefits of former employees after they have retired. The bill would also require companies to restore coverage to retirees whose benefits have already been cut.

The Retiree Health Benefits Protection Act would prohibit post-retirement cuts in medical benefits. This would amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, which regulates company health and pension plans. That law prohibits companies from reducing pension benefits after workers have retired, but offers no protection for retirees' medical benefits.

Companies are cutting benefits at an alarming rate. Workers have retired with no promise of cost-of-living increases in their pensions.

My health insurance premiums have more than doubled, my annual deductible has increased to four times what it was and my prescription co-pay rose to $10, $20 and $30, with some medicines not allowed, forcing me to pay the entire cost.

Workers have retired with the expectation of having some dignity in their golden years. But this is not happening. Some retirees have had their pensions go entirely to their medical costs, while companies are making unheard-of profits.

We must write to our senators and congressmen and urge them to support Tierney's bill.

Orchard Park

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