Municipal Health Insurance Reform Act of 2011
A new law has substantially changed the way unions and the cities and towns in Massachusetts deal with health insurance. Here is a snapshot of the law:
1. Cities, by a vote of the City Council and towns, by a vote of the governing body, can choose to enter a new process for providing health insurance. If the city or town does not choose to do so, the current collective bargaining law stays in effect.
2. If the city or town votes for the new process, the following are in effect:
- The city or town can offer to the public employee coalition a proposal for plan design changes or for entrance into the Group Insurance Commission (GIC).
- The proposal for plan design changes cannot have co-pays, deductibles, or other plan features that exceed the dollar amounts in the most subscribed GIC plan which is currently Tufts Navigator.
- If the city or town wants to move into the GIC, it must demonstrate that the savings would be 5% more than savings generated by plan design changes to current plans.
3. The city or town will have thirty days to negotiate with the Public Employee Coalition about the proposals and also how to use up to 25% of the first years’ savings to mitigate increased cost for employees.
- If no agreement is reached, a three person municipal health insurance review panel will come into play. If the proposed plan design changes do not exceed the co-pays, deductibles and plan features of the most popular GIC plan, the panel must let the city or town implement them.
- If the city or town wants to join the GIC, the panel must approve its joining provided that the savings will be 5% greater than the savings made by plan design changes.
- The review panel can determine whether the mitigation of costs proposal is sufficient.
- Medicare eligible retirees must enroll in Medicare.
- Retiree premiums cannot increase during the next three years.
- For active employees premium splits are subject to traditional collective bargaining.
- Collective bargaining agreements or section 19 public employee coalition agreements that have listed specific co-pays or deductibles and which are in effect as of 6-30-11 cannot be affected until they expire.
The above items are highlights. The bill is very complex and contains other items, some of which are subject to regulations which are not yet issued. AFT Massachusetts will keep you completely informed as this process moves along.
If your community indicates that it wants to adopt this new law, immediately notify your field representative.