Federal court rules for cities in Medford insurance case

A federal appeals court has ruled in a Medford case, saying there is no constitutional right to health insurance coverage for city employees who retire early in Oregon.

The ruling today follows an Oregon Supreme Court decision last February that the city of Medford should provide health benefits to retired workers unless it can show it's not possible.

It was not clear whether the ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals would ease any financial pressure on Oregon cities struggling with their budgets.

The case resulted from a lawsuit over whether the city of Medford was obligated to provide health insurance to cover the gap between early retirement and age 65.

Former City Attorney Ron Doyle and three other former city employees filed suit against Medford claiming they were entitled to a bridge health insurance plan until they reached age 65. The other former employees who joined in the suit were Robert Deuel, Benedict Miller and Charles Steinberg.

Doyle, who retired in April 2005, initially asked the city for the opportunity to purchase the same health insurance coverage that is available to current employees, or else provide a lump-sum payment of $90,000 to cover additional insurance and prescription costs.

— Wire and staff reports

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