Legislature Extends Municipal Retiree Insurance Moratorium

Association & Labor Leaders Work Through Weekend

AUGUST 1, 2016: With just 9 minutes remaining in the formal legislative session for the year (which ended Sunday at midnight), the State Senate voted to override Governor Charlie Baker’s veto of a law protecting municipal and teacher retirees from runaway health insurance costs.

The override vote for Section 45 of the FY17 State Budget passed the Senate without objection. In the House, which voted 90-minutes earlier that evening, twelve Representatives voted against the extension of the moratorium. Of the twelve, ten were conservative Republicans bucking the will of House Republican Leader Brad Jones – who supported municipal retirees by backing Section 45.

Association officials very much appreciate the support of a wide and bipartisan group of legislators when it comes to retiree healthcare. Both House Speaker Bob DeLeo and Senate President Stan Rosenberg have pledged to work with our Association to enact fair and sustainable retiree healthcare reform during the 2017-18 Session.

Leading the House opposition to the Moratorium extension was Rep. James Lyons (R-Andover), who took to the House floor in a bombastic tirade urging his colleagues to oppose the override. Arguably the most conservative member of the legislature, Lyons served as Senator Ted Cruz’s Massachusetts campaign chairman.

See Below for the full 146-12 roll call vote record on Section 45.

Andover is one of a handful of communities poised to drastically increase retiree health insurance premium contribution rates should the moratorium expire.

As members are aware, the moratorium prevents communities that have implemented Chapter 69 (Municipal Insurance Reform) from increasing copayments & deductibles AND premium contribution splits. Despite already having increased out-of-pocket costs on retirees, Andover now proposes to move all retirees to a 50/50 contribution split over four years.

However, the two-year extension of the moratorium prohibits Andover and similar communities from raising rates until at least July 1, 2018.

Coordinated Support

Thankfully, Association leaders and our members were not alone in the fight to extend the moratorium. We were joined in Beacon Hill, both during the spring budget debate and for the veto override battle by a large cross section of public employee unions. A number of building trade unions have also been strong allies and advocates for public retirees, lending our Association a hand over the years.

“We received an overwhelming amount of support from our union allies in advocating for the moratorium extension and veto override. Nearly every single public employee and teacher union helped out,” said Association President Frank Valeri. “I especially want to thank President Ed Kelly and the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts, whose entire leadership team joined us at the State House all weekend long. Their hands-on support really means a lot to our Association.”

“Going back several generations, the firefighters have long been our Association’s closest alley when it comes to fighting for retiree and employee benefits. We have always been willing to help each other,” recalls former Association President Ralph White. “I’m pleased to hear that the same level of cooperation and camaraderie exists to this day!”

Association officials now anticipate retiree health insurance reform to be a leading topic during the next legislative session, which begins the first Wednesday in January, 2017.

See the file below for your Representative's vote on Section 45.

House Roll Call Vote 146-124.15 KB