Kodak Retirees To Lose Health Benefits

fromWXXI

Eastman Kodak has received approval to end retiree benefits by year's end. Monday's ruling by a New York bankruptcy judge will save the company millions as it emerges from bankruptcy. It will also mean higher health care costs for thousands of retirees and their families.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Eastman Kodak received approval yesterday to end retiree benefits by year's end. The ruling in a New York State court will save the company millions as it emerges from bankruptcy. It will also mean higher health care costs for thousands of retirees and their families.

Carlet Cleare of member station WXXI reports.

CARLET CLEARE, BYLINE: Retiree Alyce Hahn says Kodak's decision and yesterday's court ruling has left her with a sense of betrayal.

ALYCE HAHN: We knew this was coming but to hear that a judge has deemed that it's fair and legal, it just kind of stings.

CLEARE: A bankruptcy judge OK'd an agreement between Kodak and the official retiree committee. That agreement allows Kodak to shed millions of dollars in health care and survivor benefit obligations. The former film giant filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January. The approved court ruling means Hahn and 56,000 other retirees will have to pay more in insurance premiums.

HAHN: I'm paying $91 a month. It's going to go to $400. So somewhere in my budgeting, I've got to come up with the extra $300.

CLEARE: Kodak says eliminating health care benefits saves about $38 million next year and $10 million each month after.

In a statement, Kodak says it appreciates the contributions of its retirees and understands losing benefits is difficult. However, Kodak says the move is a necessary step to emerge as a profitable company from bankruptcy.

For NPR News, in Rochester I'm Carlet Cleare.

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