WASHINGTON — Maryland Gov.
Larry Hogan signed legislation Wednesday that will make millions of workers in his state’s public pension plan eligible for a $1,000 monthly payment if they’ve had a major health problem.
The state’s pension system, which includes $2.2 trillion in state and local benefits, will also be adjusted to reflect the new measure.
The state will pay out $1.4 billion over the next decade to retirees and others who were unable to find jobs in the state.
The money will go toward covering the costs of hospital stays, medical expenses, lost wages, lost savings and the medical costs of a spouse, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, sibling’s children or other family member.
Marylands public pension system is the largest in the nation, covering nearly 4 million workers.
The system is funded largely by the federal government.
Hogan’s new legislation was the third in as many months to increase payments.
Last month, he announced $9 billion in new funding.
Hogan also announced new grants of $6.5 million for health care providers.
Hogan said the state’s system is “underfunded” and has a high cost to taxpayers.
He said the $1 million payment to the workers will be enough to cover the costs for their hospital stays.
The funds will be used to cover costs for medical bills and for lost wages and savings, he said.
The Maryland Public Employees Retirement System, or MEPS, is the state-run retirement fund for state workers and other public employees.
It manages $1 trillion in benefits for more than 60 million workers and retirees, with $1 billion going to workers with serious health problems.
“I’m delighted that the governor signed this legislation,” said David Tovar, president of the American Public Employees Union.
“It will help workers in this state with their healthcare needs.
I applaud Gov.
Hogan for his leadership in ensuring that public employees have a chance to get the health care they need.”
Hogan, who has faced criticism for his handling of the state pension crisis, is seeking a second term in November.