Governor Baker Vetoes Municipal Retiree Insurance Protection

Legislative Override Sought

JULY 8, 2016: Despite wide bipartisan legislative support, Governor Charlie Baker vetoed the two-year extension of the Municipal Retiree Health Insurance Premium Moratorium.

Association officials are now seeking a House and Senate override of the veto, which must take place no later than July 30th.

The measure, sponsored by our Association with strong backing from public employee unions, extends protections from unfair insurance premiums for many local retirees, including retired teachers. It applies in communities that have implemented the provisions of Chapter 69, Acts of 2011 (Municipal Health Insurance Reform Law).

Intended to stop the dual impact that would result from increased copayments and deductibles, along with an increase in the percentage rates paid by retirees, the moratorium was originally scheduled to expire on July 1, 2014. However, the Legislature extended the deadline by two years in order to allow time to implement comprehensive retiree healthcare reform.

During this year’s budget process our Association successfully advocated for an additional two-year extension, through July 1, 2018. That advocacy included a commitment to work with legislative leaders and the Baker Administration officials to pass a long-term solution during the next legislative session.

“The Governor sided with the Mass Municipal Association (MMA) and conservative groups that feel they should be allowed to balance local budgets on the backs of municipal retirees. This twisted logic would result on insurance costs being raised for retirees with an average pension of just $22,000 a year,” said Mass Retirees President Frank Valeri. “These same retirees are already paying higher copayments and deductibles.

“We’re now calling on the House and Senate leadership to schedule a veto override vote as soon as possible. The answer to health care reform is not cost shifting onto vulnerable retirees.”

Members are asked to call or email their State Representative and Senator to ask for an immediate vote in both branches to override the veto of Section 45: Retiree Health Care Premium Increase Moratorium. The vote must take place no later than July 30, 2016.

The Budget, signed by the Governor, includes a 3% COLA on the first $13,000 of a pension for eligible retired state employees and teachers (retired before July 1, 2015) beginning July 1. It also retains the current premium contribution percentages for state retirees in the GIC at 10%, 15% or 20% depending upon the date of retirement.