- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 16, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The state of Illinois has started refunding health insurance premium money to state government retirees as ordered by the Illinois Supreme Court.

The refunds resulted in the high court’s decision to toss a 2012 state law requiring the retired state workers to pay part of their pension toward their health insurance.

“We’ve gotten calls from retirees saying thanks for the check,” said Springfield attorney Don Craven, who brought one of the lawsuits filed challenging the law. “I think it’s over.”

Multiple lawsuits were filed challenging the law, and the issue eventually made its way to the Illinois Supreme Court, which ruled in 2014 that retiree health insurance is a protected pension benefit and that the state cannot charge premiums to people who previously were exempt from them, The State Journal-Register (https://bit.ly/1GKcmEs ) reported. About $63 million was collected in premium money following the ruling.

Refunds are being distributed to nearly 95,000 retirees either through direct deposits to a retiree’s bank account or by a check, according to the Department of Central Management Services. Most of the retirees already have received them, and a majority of those who haven’t are now dead so the money will be credited to their estates, agency spokeswoman Meredith Krantz said.

Just over 200 retirees decided not to partake in the class-action settlement and likely will have to go through the state Court of Claim if they still want to seek reimbursement, Craven said.

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Information from: The State Journal-Register, https://www.sj-r.com

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