The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said it planned to appeal a federal judge's ruling barring the agency from allowing employers to provide more generous health benefits to younger retirees than to retirees of Medicare age. The AARP sued in February to block the proposed regulation, claiming it amounted to age discrimination. U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia ruled that the EEOC lacked the power to make the change and said the regulation would violate a legal precedent that companies may offer different health plans to retirees of different ages only if the plans are of equal value or provide equal benefits. The EEOC had proposed exempting retiree health plans from age discrimination rules as part of an attempt to slow the trend of companies eliminating retiree health benefits altogether. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the percentage of companies with more than 1,000 workers offering health coverage to retirees dropped to 57% in 2003 from 80% in 1991. -- by Laura B. Benko
U.S. to appeal ban on lower benefits for older retirees
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