Association Opposes Increased Copayment & Deductibles

Association Opposes Increased Copayment & Deductibles
Shawn Duhamel (Photo Courtesy of GIC)

GIC Holds Annual Public Hearing

February 4, 2015:  Association officials were present and offered testimony at the state Group Insurance Commission’s (GIC) annual public hearing held today at the State House.

Despite the weather and throngs of crowds in Boston for the Patriots Parade, nearly 100 people attended the nearly two-hour meeting. Labor representatives from the American Federation of Teachers, Mass Teachers Association, Mass Association of State Engineers and Scientists, the National Association of Government Employees, among others, joined our Association.

Led by GIC Director Delores Mitchell, the Commission began the meeting with a detailed presentation on the current and projected GIC budget. A copy of the presentation can be viewed here.

At issue is the ongoing debate surrounding increased insurance costs. At present, the GIC projects a budget increase of some $160 million in FY16 (July 1, 2015) in order to cover the increased costs of medical care. One major factor driving costs is the explosion of so-called specialty drugs, which can carry a significant price tag.

According to the GIC, specialty drugs comprise just 1% of all prescriptions written, but consume 25% of the overall prescription drug budget.

At its monthly meeting on February 13th, the GIC is expected to vote on plan design changes for FY16, which could include increased copayment and deductible costs for retirees. At today’s hearing, the Association went on record opposing any increase in out-of-pocket costs.

“The GIC’s out-of-pocket costs are already in line with, if not higher than, many private sector health insurance plans. Retirees cannot afford higher costs and it is unreasonable to expect that they due so considering the limits placed on the COLA and Social Security offsets,” said Association Legislative Director Shawn Duhamel in his testimony before the Commission.

“While there is no easy answer to gaining control over healthcare costs, the answer is not to cost shift on to the backs of retirees. More needs to be done to force healthcare providers to control their costs. The fact that Massachusetts has the highest healthcare costs in the world is not the fault of public retirees.”

Association officials were pleased to see several GIC Commissioners in attendance at today’s hearing. Both Commission Chairwoman Katherine Baicker and Vice Chairman Richard Waring were in attendance, along with former State Rep. Anne Paulsen, the Commission’s retiree representative.