Senate Approves Retiree Insurance Protection

Senate Approves Retiree Insurance Protection

Municipal Premium Moratorium Extended Two Years

MAY 24, 2016: Today, the MA State Senate unanimously passed an amendment to the FY17 budget that extends the municipal retiree insurance premium moratorium for two years - until July 1, 2018. Amendment 91, which received widespread bipartisan support, was passed on a voice vote during the first day of the Senate budget debate.

The measure extends the now five-year-old moratorium, currently set to expire on July 1. It prevents municipalities from implementing health insurance plan design changes and also increasing premium contribution percentage rates. While active employees are protected by collective bargaining, retirees have no such legal protection.

“I want to thank those Mass Retirees members who took the time to call or email your state Senator in support of this amendment. Your personal touch made all the difference,” says Association President Frank Valeri. “Cities and towns should not be allowed to unfairly balance their budgets on the backs of local retirees, whose average pension is $22,000 a year. We need a long-term solution to a very complex problem.

“I also must thank the Senate leadership under President Stan Rosenberg and Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka. We now look forward to working closely with House Speaker Bob DeLeo and Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey during the conference committee process.”

“Democrats and Republicans alike understand that retirees can ill afford to pay higher and higher health insurance costs. Allowing the moratorium to expire without a solution in place would seriously harm those who can least afford it,” added Legislative Director Shawn Duhamel. “Our hope is to work with our allies in active employee unions, as well as the legislature and Governor Charlie Baker’s Administration to find a viable and fair solution during the coming 2017-18 Session.”

Following the enactment of the Senate’s version of the FY17 Budget later this week, the bill will be negotiated between a House-Senate Conference Committee throughout the month of June. The House and Senate will then approve the final version of the budget, prior to it being sent to Governor Baker. Fiscal Year 2017 begins July 1, 2016.

The Association would like to thank Amendment 91’s lead sponsor, Senator Tom McGee (D-Lynn). In addition, the following Senators were amendment cosponsors (several over the objection of their local officials) and helped ensure a unanimous passage early in the budget process: Ken Donnelly (D-Arlington), Mike Brady (D-Brockton), Anne Gobi (D-Spencer), Donald Humason (R-Westfield), Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), Barbara L'Italien (D-Andover), Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport), Brian Joyce (D-Milton), Patrick O'Connor (R-Weymouth), Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton), Joan Lovely (D-Salem), Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford), Michael Moore (D-Milbury), Michael Rush (D-West Roxbury), Linda Dorcena Forry (D-Dorchester) and Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth).