From the Media

PATRICK TO FEATURE PANEL’S RETIREE HEALTH CARE REFORMS IN BUDGET

By Matt Murphy
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, DEC. 20, 2012….State and municipal employees would have to wait until they are older and put in more years of service to qualify for retirement health benefits under a proposal being embraced by the Patrick administration to cut future benefit costs by $20 billion over the next 30 years.

Pension bonds risky for state and local governments-Moody's

Municipal bonds that states and local governments use to pay for some of their public pension obligations rarely improve the issuer's credit quality, Moody's Investors Service said on Tuesday.

"If bond proceeds substitute for annual contributions to pension plans or are used to pay pensioners, we consider it a deficit borrowing and would view the financing as credit negative," Marcia Van Wagner, the senior Moody's analyst who wrote the report, said in a statement.

Medicare beneficiaries reach $5 billion in drug savings

Kelly Kennedy, USA Today

December 3. 2012 - Since passage of the health care overhaul two years ago, 5.8 million Medicare patients have saved $5 billion from prescription drug discounts, and the government can now predict lower health care costs based on increased use of these cheaper drugs.

Medicare Premiums to Rise by $5 a Month

Medicare premiums will rise by $5 a month next year, the government said Friday. That is less than expected, but enough to consume about a fourth of a typical retiree’s cost-of-living raise in Social Security payments next year. Marilyn Tavenner, the acting administrator of Medicare, said the new “Part B” premium for outpatient care would be $104.90 a month. In most cases, it is deducted from a beneficiary’s monthly Social Security payment. The government had projected a premium increase of as much as $9 a month for 2013, but health care inflation has remained modest.

Blue Cross plan shows reduction in spending

By Liz Kowalczyk
Globe Staff  

July 11, 2012

The largest private-sector effort to tame medical spending in Massachusetts appears to be getting results, as doctors who agreed to work on a budget have cut costs by using less-expensive imaging and lab companies and expanding office hours to reduce emergency room use.

State officials say new law has saved more than $175m in health insurance premiums for municipalities, school districts

July 11, 2012

By Martin Finucane, Globe Staff

Massachusetts officials said today that a new law designed to help municipalities and school districts reduce their health insurance costs has saved more than $175 million in premium costs for 127 municipalities and districts.

Superintendents circumvent state pension law

By Deirdre Fernandes
Globe Staff  
July 07, 2012

By seeking and winning salary ­increases, school superintendents across the state have maneuvered around a new law aimed at closing a loophole that had allowed employees to boost their pensions by counting fringe benefits as part of their salary.

RI Judge to review pension deal with city workers

Boston Globe June 26, 2012: A lawyer representing city retirees in Providence is expected to tell a judge they have approved a deal freezing automatic pension hikes and restructuring health benefits — a victory for Mayor Angel Taveras that is expected to keep the state capital out of municipal bankruptcy. Joseph Penza, a lawyer who represents about 1,300 municipal retirees, said he plans to present the results of the retirees’ vote to Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter on Tuesday.

On pensions, Boston should avoid extra annual hike

Boston Globe Editorial, June 24, 2012: