Dear Representatives Spanberger, Fitzpatrick, Kildee, and Bacon,
I am writing on behalf of the members of the Fraternal Order of Police to advise you of our strong support for H.R. 957, the “Public Safety Health Care Retirees Act,” which will update the Healthcare Enhancement for Local Public Safety (HELPS) Retirees Act in current Federal law.
In 2006, Congress enacted the HELPS Retirees Act, which provided a modest tax benefit to help retired public safety officers afford health insurance by allowing the use, on a pre-tax basis, of up to $3,000 annually from their pension funds (including defined benefit plans and defined contribution plans) to pay for premiums on health care and long-term care insurance. The FOP was proud to have played a leading role in developing this legislation to help address the rising health care costs faced by many of our retired members. Because of the physical demands of their profession, law enforcement and other public safety officers often retire earlier than other occupations. In fact, many local, State and Federal agencies have mandatory retirement ages for their officers. In these instances, retired officers may lose their employer-provided health insurance upon or shortly after their retirement–a time when they are years away from being eligible for Medicare. This, coupled with the fact that retired law enforcement and other public safety officers face greater health care needs than other professions because of the hazards they faced in the line of duty, forces them to spend a considerable amount of their limited income on health insurance premiums.
However, the amount of the benefit, which was set in 2006, has not kept up with the rising costs of healthcare and insurance. To address this issue, the legislative you have introduced would increase the pre-tax benefit amount from $3,000 to $6,000 per year.
We are proud to have partnered with all of you to help our retired members and retired public safety officers nationwide. On behalf of the more than 364,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, thank you for your support and leadership on this important issue. If I can provide any additional information in support of H.R. 957, please do not hesitate to contact me or Executive Director Jim Pasco in our Washington, D.C. office.