Mass Retirees & Unions Meet With GIC

Mass Retirees & Unions Meet With GIC
Mass Retirees & Labor Leaders Meet with GIC

Focus on Members’ Costs & Future Plan Design

JULY 10, 2019: In what might very well be a first, the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC) hosted a near 3-hour meeting with Mass Retirees and the state’s public employee and teacher unions.

Monday’s meeting, organized by the Mass. AFL-CIO and GIC Executive Director Dr. Roberta Herman, covered a wide-range of health insurance topics – most importantly, the impact of high out-of-pocket costs on both retirees and active employees. GIC officials, along with health care experts from Willis Towers Watson, provided a detailed overview of the healthcare system and recent GIC activities.

“Aside from the Social Security WEP and GPO issues, which we’re actively working to reform, there is no issue of greater importance to our members than healthcare and maintaining high quality and affordable insurance options. Whether you’re enrolled in the state or a local insurance plan, there is no avoiding that the GIC drives all policy decisions when it comes to health insurance,” explains Association President Frank Valeri. “Having the ability to meet face-to-face, see the data, ask questions and discuss options to improve benefits for both retirees and active employees is critically important.”

“When it comes to health insurance, the number one complaint we receive is about the cost, followed by how confusing it has become to access care and understand how the benefits work. We appreciated the opportunity to join with the public employee unions to meet directly with the GIC’s senior leadership,” said Association Legislative Director Shawn Duhamel. “For more than a decade, Mass Retirees has been an active part of the board coalition of public employee and teacher unions working together on health care and public pension issues. This collaborative partnership has served all of our collective members well.

“I believe Monday was the first time we have ever met with the GIC together as a group. And the meeting was very productive, in terms of the information that was shared and our ability to speak as one voice on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of retirees and active public employees we represent.

“Cost is everyone’s #1 concern, especially for those retirees over the age of 65 and not eligible for Medicare. We have asked the GIC to look into the feasibility of buying into the Medicare program for these retirees, who now number more than 30,000 people. This is something that a growing number of municipalities have now done and it seems to be working well for both the retirees and local government.”

The GIC’s presentation also included a report on work now underway to modernize the GIC’s use of technology. This work, which will likely encompass the next 18 months, is part of a capital improvement plan aimed at digitizing much of the GIC’s record keeping and plan enrollment processes. The goal is to create a system that provides enrollees with greater access to their insurance benefits, in a less complicated manner.

While dates have yet to be set, further meetings are likely to take place this coming fall in advance of FY2021. 

Mass Retirees members should look to their September 2019 edition of the Voice for additional information.