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January 2019
After insuring their retirees and employ- ees with the state GIC (Group Insurance Commission) for the past three years,
Winchendon has decided to leave as of June 30. They noti ed the state just before the December 1 deadline of their decision.
“Members may recall that back in 2016 we reported on the GIC holding one of its health fairs in Winchendon, also known as ‘Toy Town’,” accord- ing to Association of cial Bill Rehrey. “I went there and spoke with several retirees who wanted to learn more about the state program before making a decision on their insurance coverage.”
Back then, Winchendon retirees were long accustomed to being insured by Blue Cross. For them, the move to the GIC was life-changing. And now – three years later, they ‘re leaving the GIC and returning to the Blues. Ed Note: Blue Cross cover- age will be provided through MIIA (Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association) which serves as the insurance arm for the Mass. Municipal Association (MMA).
Beginning July 1, Medicare retirees will be enrolled in Medex II with PDP (Prescription Drug Plan). Non-Medicare retirees and employees will choose to be insured by one of three plans, either a broad based HMO, limited HMO and PPO.
These plans will be offered under a three- year agreement. “According to sources, the town believed this agreement with Blue Cross and MIIA provided a level of stability that the GIC couldn’t offer them,” continued Rehrey.
“Winchendon’s concern for longer-term stabil- ity is re ective of an ongoing issue that we’ve been reporting on, namely the uncertainty built into the decision making process when it comes to leaving or staying in the GIC,” continues Rehrey. “According to our members serving as our designees on a local PEC (Public Employee Committee), how can they
For more than 10 years, we’ve reported on a
federal subsidy program known as the Retiree Drug Subsidy or RDS. It’s part of the federal law that created Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) in 2003.
Under RDS, the
Centers for Medicare
& Medicaid Services (CMS) subsidize the prescrip- tion drug coverage provided to state and local retir- ees by their former public employers if the plan is equivalent or better than the basic Medicare Part D program offered by the feds. “We’re not aware of any prescription drug plans being provided to pub- lic retirees that are inferior to Part D,” according to Association Insurance Coordinator Cheryl Stillman.
“And that’s particularly true with the state’s pre- scription drug plans, which means the communities in the GIC (Group Insurance Commission) also reap the bene t of this federal subsidy. We know that for certain because GIC data shows us how much of a subsidy each GIC community has been receiving annually.
“In fact, it was earlier this year (July 2018 Voice) that we reported on how much each city, town and regional school district in the GIC received at the end of last year,” Voice Publisher Nancy Delaney points out. Ed Note: Originally GIC communities received a cash disbursement from the state for their share of the RDS. Then some four years ago, the disburse- ment was changed to a credit on the insurance bill that a community receives from the state for its GIC coverage.
“We’ve been publicizing the RDS disbursements by the GIC as part of our overall effort to have com- munities – GIC and non-GIC alike – use some of these funds to help retirees with their healthcare costs,”

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