Retirees Call On GIC to Reconsider Plan Consolidation & Cap Costs

Mass Retirees has called on the state’s Group Insurance Commission to reconsider the decision to consolidate health plans, cap copayments and deductibles, and institute a new approval process for health plan selection and plan design that invites public comment.

 

The Association’s requests will delivered by President Frank Valeri at the GIC’s public hearing in Boston Thursday morning. Valeri’s letter to GIC Director Dr. Roberta Herman can be viewed below:

 

January 25, 2018

 

Dr. Roberta Herman

Executive Director

Group Insurance Commission

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

19 Staniford Street, 4th Floor

Boston, MA 02114

 

Dear Dr. Herman:

 

Thank you for the opportunity to offer testimony on behalf of the 135,000 retired public employees and surviving spouses insured through the Group Insurance Commission. Our members are at ground zero when it comes to healthcare. Nothing is more important to them than access to high quality affordable health insurance.

 

Beginning last September, our Association began to publicly report on the GIC’s procurement process and potential changes being considered for FY19. These published reports included the belief that the GIC was considering a consolidation of health plans.

 

Following the September publication of the Voice, I received a call from GIC Chairwoman Valerie Sullivan, who suggested that our report was “inflammatory” and presented a misleading overview of what the GIC was considering.

 

In retrospect, perhaps we were not forceful enough in our reports. The Commission’s decision to eliminate three of the Commonwealth’s most popular and well-established health insurance companies for non-Medicare retirees and employees comes as quite a shock.

 

Following the GIC’s decision to consolidate health plan offerings, Mass Retirees has been inundated with phone calls and emails from extremely concerned retirees, frightened by the prospect of switching health insurance providers. All told, more than 34,000 public retirees and survivors will be displaced due to these changes – along with thousands more dependents.

 

Retirees have faithfully enrolled in Fallon, Harvard Pilgrim and Tufts for many years. Tufts’ involvement with the GIC dates back to 1983, some thirty-five years! More importantly, our members’ longstanding physicians and local hospitals belong to each of these plans’ respective networks.

 

Beyond the fact that these decisions were made without proper warning or time allowed for public input, what is most troubling is that little to no information is available on plan design and cost. Retirees want to know if they can keep their current doctor and how much it will cost them to do so. “Probably” is not the answer they be hearing.

 

Retirees and active employees have the right to know what the impact will be in terms of plan design, copayments, deductibles and overall network access. To date, the GIC seems unable to answer any of these critical concerns.

 

Last month, I sent a detailed letter (see attached) to you outlining Mass Retirees’ concerns and providing suggestions for avenues to explore for cost containment. Once again, we call on the GIC to consider cost containment options that do not shift costs, erode quality, restrict networks and disrupt access. We believe that the GIC has not fully utilized its buying power.

 

Therefore, Mass Retirees calls upon the GIC implement the following:

  • Reconsider the January 18th vote and explore offering an additional statewide non-Medicare insurer.
  • Freezing any increases in out-of-pocket costs for the three-year duration of the provider contracts. The last three years have brought about more than $300 million in new OPC for retirees and employees, which place the costs borne by GIC enrollees at or, in some cases, above the peer universe.
  • Procedural reforms to the procurement and plan design processes to allow for proper public input BEFORE Commission votes are taken.
    • Public Hearings Before Changes Are Approved
    • Allow cities and towns the ability to enter or leave the GIC once health plans are chosen and plan design decisions are made

Mass Retirees believes that the GIC should explore all options available to contain costs in a non-disruptive manner. We believe if done right, with proper oversight and processes in place, the GIC can use the buying power that comes from 440,000 subscribers.

 

As always, we are willing to work with the GIC and its staff to accomplish these goals.

 

Thank you again for the opportunity to speak with you today.

 

Most sincerely,

 

Frank Valeri

President


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