No Action Taken on Life Insurance & Moratorium Fix

Formal Legislative Session Ends July 31st

JUNE 25, 2018: Despite the best efforts of our legislative team, as well as a wide array of union lobbyists, Mass Retirees’ amendments to the House’s Health Care Reform bill (H4617) failed to be adopted. Of the 171 total amendments filed, only 25 were successfully adopted during last week’s debate in the House. 

Paramount amongst the Association’s concerns are proposals that would increase the state’s basic life insurance to $10,000 and restrict the ability of municipalities to increase health insurance contribution percentage rates on current retirees (moratorium). Both issues were addressed as amendments 67 (Rate Moratorium) and 99 (Basic Life Insurance).

Hundreds of Mass Retirees’ members took the time to contact their State Representative last week, in an effort to pass the two amendments.

“We owe a special thanks to the members who took the time to contact their local legislators. Your calls and emails did not go unnoticed. We are going to keep the pressure on and continue to fight for these issues as long as it takes. Meanwhile, if you are impacted by either the state life insurance benefit or the expiration of the local health insurance premium moratorium, let your voice be heard by contacting your State Rep. and Senator,” says Association President Frank Valeri. “The Legislative Leadership has to hear that these issues are important and must be addressed.”

The current moratorium, which was originally passed in 2011, expires on June 30. Without a permanent fix, cities and towns will be free to increase health insurance contribution percentage rates on retirees as high as a 50/50 split. Absent an agreement to the contrary, this can be done without the consent of retirees or active unions.

In addition, Mass Retirees joined with public employee unions NAGE, MOSES, SEIU, MTA, AFT, PFFM, Mass Police Association, Mass COP and others in working with an AFL-CIO led effort to reform the state’s Group Insurance Commission. These reforms include changes to the composition of the 17-member commission, requirements that commissioners have relevant experience and/or expertise and reforms that would require advance notice and public hearings prior to the adoption of major benefit changes.

The three amendments did not garner majority support for approval within H4617, thus were withdrawn by their respective sponsors prior to a formal vote being taken. 

“I am personally frustrated and upset that we have been unable to make real progress on either of these issues. Not only are these proposals important to public retirees, but each offers a fair and realistic solution to longstanding problems,” commented Valeri. “I continue to hear from members who feel the same way. They are angry and rightfully so.”