Brown Discusses Legislation to Help First Responders Afford Health Insurance in Retirement

Brown’s Police and Fire Health Care Protection Act Would Cut Red Tape and Give First Responders Flexibility to Pay Health Care Expenses

WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 13, 2022 -Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) held a news conference call to discuss his bipartisan legislation, the Police and Fire Health Care Protection Act of 2022 which would help first responders afford health insurance in retirement.

“Ohio firefighters and other first responders wear their bodies out protecting our families and communities. They shouldn’t have to worry about being penalized for withdrawing from retirement that they’ve earned to pay for health insurance,” said Brown. “Our bill would allow retirees to take money directly out of their pensions to pay their health and long-term care insurance premiums. This is a simple solution that allows cops and firefighters to keep their own money, and I’m hopeful we can get this done.”

Currently, retired first responders can withdraw up to $3,000 from their pensions before taxes to pay for health and long-term care insurance premiums. Now, that money can only be paid from those pensions directly to insurance providers, which can mean additional red tape for pension plans and can end up with fewer first responders being able to use the benefit. The Senator’s legislation would update the law and allow retirees to directly receive that money to pay their insurance premiums and then explain those costs on their tax returns at the end of the year.

Brown was joined on the call by Tom Rave, a retired Cincinnati firefighter who is also the Retiree Vice President for the Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters.

“With the high cost of health care, every little bit helps those whose incomes are mostly their retirement pensions,” said Rave. “By changing the premium payment option, the ability for our members at again use the $3,000 exclusion would be a great help.”

The legislation was recently included in the Enhancing American Retirement Now (EARN) Act, a package of retirement-related bills marked up by the Senate Finance Committee last month. It has been cosponsored in the Senate by U.S. Senators John Thune (R-SD), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Companion legislation has also been introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-7) and Steve Chabot (R-OH-1).