Breaking News

HOUSE AND SENATE ENACT GIC MUNICIPAL HEALTH INSURANCE BILL

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.

MEDICARE SAVING STATE NEARLY $400 MILLION

Retirees, enrolled in Medicare Part B, saved the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC) nearly $400 million in FY06.

With the average cost of non-Medicare retirees coming in at nearly four times higher than Medicare enrollees, the state’s mandatory-Medicare policy continues to be a windfall for the Commonwealth…but at what cost to retirees? Our answer: The state is cheating retirees by not paying a dime toward a major portion of their insurance costs, namely the Part B premium.

Nearly five years have now passed since then-Acting Governor Jane Swift eliminated the state’s Medicare Part B reimbursement with the stroke of her pen. As a result, members, insured under the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC), are forced to pay 100% of the Medicare Part B premium out of their own pockets.

KERRY CENTRAL TO WEP/GPO DEBATE

2007 JULY - As the new chairman of the US Senate’s Subcommittee on Social Security, Bay State Senator John Kerry now finds himself in a pivotal role in the debate over the future of the federal retirement program.

COLA BILL ADVANCES TO SENATE

2007 JULY - $16,000 Base Would Be Indexed - In a bold move, the Joint Committee on Public Service favorably reported the Association’s marquis bill, raising the COLA base, to the Senate on May 14.The bill, now S2234, not only raises the COLA base for state and teacher retirees to $16,000, but also allows local retirement systems to increase the COLA base to any level above the current $12,000 by allowing for adjustments in the long-term pension funding schedules.

DISABILITY REEXAM BILL ADVANCES

JUNE 8, 2007: The
Joint Committee on Public Service favorably released H2510, which limits the
reexamination and reevaluation of disability retirees to the first ten years of
retirement. H2510 was filed by Representative David Flynn (D-Bridgewater) and
Senator Michael Knapik (R-Westfield) on behalf of our Association.

BUDGET WILL INCLUDE 3% COLA

MAY 29, 2007:   The Massachusetts Senate has completed its work on
the Fiscal-Year 2008 state budget, which includes a 3% COLA for state and
teacher retirees. While legislation is advancing that would create a higher
base in future years, the base for the July 2007 COLA remains at $12,000.

PUBLIC SERVICE COMMITTEE RAISES COLA BASE TO $16,000

May 11, 2007:
Marking the first important step, the Joint Public Service Committee, chaired
by Rep. Jay Kaufman (D-Lexington) and Sen. Ben Downing (D-Piffsfield) has
approved the Association’s centerpiece legislation, raising the COLA Base.

The
bill, now S1586, includes several Association proposals, most importantly,
raising the Base for state and teacher retirees to $16,000 and allowing local
retirement systems to increase their Base to any level above the current
$12,000, through adjustments in their pension funding schedules.

COLA ACCEPTANCE UPDATE

May 4, 2007: To date,
eighty-eight of the state’s 104 local retirement systems have approved a new 3%
COLA to be paid this July. With the remaining sixteen retirement systems
scheduled to vote in May and June, we are well on our way to having 100%
adoption of the 2007 COLA.

Madeline Sullivan Passes On

2007 MAY - Shortly before going to press, we received word that Association Secretary Madeline Sullivan had passed away after a lengthy illness.

Sullivan was a true pioneer of group insurance here in Massachusetts. In 1956, she was one of the first people hired by State Group Insurance Commission Director Bill Burke. Burke himself had just been appointed by Governor Christian Herter to head the new agency created in October 1955.

PATRICK BUDGET CONTAINS 3% COLA

2007 MAY - Governor Deval Patrick did not make the same mistake that former Governor Mitt Romney did in his first year as governor.