July 2, 2007: After years of negotiations, involving our Association, both the House and Senate have enacted legislation that will allow municipalities to join the state health insurance program, administered by the Group Insurance Commission (GIC). “We believe that once it’s enacted, the GIC Municipal Health Insurance Law will offer a viable option to local retirees, unions and officials as they attempt to solve the ever-increasing costs of healthcare,” states Legislative Chairman Bill Hill.

While there are differences between the House and Senate versions, there are none of any major consequence to retirees. It’s anticipated that the differences will be resolved, and a bill will be signed by the governor shortly.

Here are some of the major highlights of the GIC Municipal Health Insurance Bill affecting retirees:

  • Retirees, unions and officials agree to accept the coalition bargaining law (Section 19, Chapter 32B) in order to negotiate over health insurance, including whether to join the GIC.
  • Retirees and unions agree to act as one negotiating body, known as the Public Employee Committee (PEC), on health insurance, with the Association designating the retiree representative on the committee.
  • PEC and municipal officials must enter into an agreement, that may include joining the GIC, in order to finally adopt Section 19.
  • If PEC and officials agree to join GIC:
    • Local retirees and employees offered the same insurance plans that are available to state retirees and employees, with the same premiums being charged to the Commonwealth and a municipality that joins GIC.
    • Contribution rates toward the premium to be paid by retirees, as well as employees, agreed between PEC and municipal officials, and not set by the GIC.
    • Contribution rates, paid by retirees and survivors, for a specific insurance plan, the same as that paid by employees.

More details on the legislation will be forthcoming in the September Voice.