Updated 08/01/2012 10:00 PM
Governor Signs Bill to Ensure Kodak Retiree Coverage
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It's a security blanket Kodak retirees say is neccessary.
"Right after bankruptcy was declared, we started worrying what was going to happen to our health care coverage and started trying to figure out what our alternatives might be," said Alyce Hahn.
Since Kodak filed bankruptcy, retirees like Alyce feared losing health care benefits.
Like many retirees, Hahn is too young to qualify for Medicare, so for her paying for another health care plan was not an option.
"For me, I probably would have to think seriously about no health care coverage because of the cost per month. We've been quoted $1,300 a month and I would have had to think seriously about no coverage," she said.
But thanks to a bill drafted by local legislators and signed Wednesday by Governor Cuomo, that option is no longer Hahn's concern. The legislation ensures private health care coverage will be available to all former employees.
Art Roberts: "What it means to them is a safety net so that if Kodak were to terminate health care under 65, we would be able to have a plan in place to provide them help," said Art Roberts, president of EKRA, an association of Kodak retirees.
According to Lt. Governor Bob Duffy, the bill authorizes insurance companies to offer former employees experience rated health care coverage, which means costs would essentially remain the same.
"It really does provide sense or hopefully a satisfaction and reassurance to them that they don't have to worry should something happen in bankruptcy," said Duffy.
A reassurance to more than 5,000 Kodak retirees and current employees heading down that road, like Thomas O'Connell.
"I'm an employee there 38 years and my retirement benefits are important to me and my pension is very important to me," he said.
O'Connell says what's also important for many employees and retirees is that the company comes out on top.
"The thing we are most concerned about and the best wish for all of us is we want to see the company to come out of bankruptcy."