NCRGEA’s Fight for Retiree Healthcare Rights Results in NC Supreme Court Ruling

NCRGEA is extremely pleased with the decision filed by the North Carolina Supreme Court on March 11, 2022 holding that eligible State employees have a vested right in a noncontributory health plan for life. This Association has worked on this case, the Lake Case, to support retirees’ rights for almost 10 years.

As the Court stated, “These employees reasonably relied on the promise of this benefit in choosing to accept employment with the State. They are entitled to the benefit of their bargain, which includes eligibility to enroll in a premium-free plan offering the same or greater coverage value as the one available to them when their rights vested.”

This decision has been a long time in coming. NCRGEA is grateful to the attorneys, led by Christopher Whelchel and Michael Carpenter at the Gray Layton Kersh firm in Gastonia, with great assistance from attorneys Sam McGee and Gary Jackson, who have worked so hard for so long to protect retirees’ rights. We are also grateful to AARP and the North Carolina Association of Educators for their support.

We agree with the Court’s determination that this dispute raises issues of profound importance to the hundreds of thousands of dedicated public employees who devoted their lives to serving their fellow North Carolinians, often for far less immediate remuneration than would have been available to them in the private sector.

The Lake Case court decision may be viewed on the North Carolina Judicial Branch website at