NFL, NFLPA will contribute to new Medicare benefits for retired players

NEW YORK -- The NFL and the NFL Players Association will pay a combined $100 per month toward the Medicare costs of retired players under a new plan announced Tuesday.

The program begins Jan. 1 for ex-players who are over 65 and vested in the league's pension plan. The money will go to the monthly premium of the former player's coverage.

"We are pleased that we can offer this benefit, as well as other recent improvements to the health and disability benefits provided for retired players," Richard Berthelsen, acting executive director of the NFL Players Association, said in a statement issued by the league and the NFLPA. "This ensures that every retiree can afford some level of supplemental coverage above basic Medicare."

League commissioner Roger Goodell added that both sides "continue to be responsive to their needs."

The problems of destitute players and other retirees has been a subject of continuing complaints from ex-players. Much of the criticism was aimed at Gene Upshaw, the late NFLPA executive director who died in August.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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