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Thursday, April 14, 2011
Health insurance plan design authority is key element of FY2012 state budget
With support from the Massachusetts Municipal Association, the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, and many mayors, town managers and select boards—but not from public sector unions—the
House Committee on Ways and Means unveiled a key component of its FY2012 budget yesterday.
Selectmen/councilors/mayors would be given the power to adopt, as a local option, plan design authority over existing health insurance plans. No town meeting approval would be required. Co-payments and deductibles would be limited to what the Group Insurance Commission (GIC) sets for its most utilized plan.
The authority would also be granted to move a town or city into the GIC without a collective bargaining process.
However, as currently drafted, authority to make these plan design changes or to move into the GIC would be effective at the end of any collective bargaining agreements currently in place (not to include “evergreen” clauses).
Ten percent of the costs avoided (“savings”) would be returned to employees during the first year to pay for health care related expenses.
Towns that adopt this local option would still be required to collectively bargain the premium split unless the town joins the GIC, which currently has a 75/25 split.
Union members and lobbyists are already filling legislators’ email boxes with messages urging lawmakers to not take away collective bargaining rights. Being called “Wisconsin-esque” in its anti-union tone, the
House Committee on Ways and Means in Massachusetts is a 32-member committee with 26 Democrats and 6 Republicans, making it very different from the Republican dominated legislature of . Wisconsin
The following comparison of health care insurance costs was compiled by The Boston Foundation and was included in the legislators’ briefing yesterday. Municipal plan numbers are the average of 14
communities. GIC figures are the average of its two PPO plans. Private employer numbers are from the Foundation’s 2010 survey. Massachusetts