MILLINOCKET — Maine’s highest court has upheld a Millinocket Town Council vote to eliminate lifelong life and group hospitalization insurance coverage to 29 town workers and retirees.

The Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday affirmed the town’s opposition to a class-action lawsuit.

Citing rising costs, the council voted 7-0 in May 2009 to end the free health care benefits paid to the retirees. Since 1999, the town’s portion of retiree health benefits had increased from as little as $282.40 a month in 1999 to $599.44 a month in 2009, under a typical plan.

In their appeal, the workers and retirees argued that the council vote was a breach of contract.

Current council Chairman John Davis, who was not on the council in 2009, told the Bangor Daily News the decision is “bittersweet.”

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