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GIC RETAINS RETIREE FAVORITE UNICARE

All 6 Health Plans To Continue

FEBRUARY 19, 2013: The state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC) voted to retain all six of its current health insurance providers. While the bids have been accepted by the GIC, the specifics of the contract are now being negotiated in advance of the GIC’s March meeting.

Retirees and survivors insured under the GIC’s Optional Medicare Extension (OME) plan are very happy to see that UniCare will continue as the plan’s provider. UniCare also carries the GIC’s indemnity plan, which is widely popular for non-Medicare retirees.

GOVERNOR FILES HEALTHCARE REFORM BILL

H59 Includes Key Retiree Protections

FEBRUARY 16, 2013: This week, Governor Deval Patrick filed a legislative proposal that would significantly change healthcare benefits for future retirees, while grandfathering and protecting current retiree benefits from knee-jerk changes in contribution percentage rates.

NEW HOUSE PUBLIC SERVICE CHAIR NAMED

NEW HOUSE PUBLIC SERVICE CHAIR NAMED

Michlewitz Joins Brownsberger To Head Key Committee

FEBRUARY 8, 2013: State Representative Aaron Michlewitz has been appointed House Chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Service for the 2013-2014 Legislative Session. The 3rd-term Democrat hails from Boston’s North End, where he was born and raised.

SOCIAL SECURITY REFORM LINGERS

SOCIAL SECURITY REFORM LINGERS

Association Pushes WEP/GPO Inclusion

FEBRUARY 2, 2013: This past week, the Association took part in the annual National Conference of Public Employee Retirement Systems (NCPERS) Legislative Conference held in Washington, D.C. While a variety of pension, healthcare and Social Security issues were discussed, one issue was on the top of our agenda – WEP & GPO.

MUNICIPALITIES SAVE $250 MILLION IN HEALTHCARE REFORMS

More Than Double Previous Estimates

FEBRUARY 1, 2013: In the 18-months since the passage of Chapter 69, Acts of 2011, cities and towns have saved an estimated $250 million in health insurance costs.

Known as Municipal Healthcare Reform, Chapter 69 paved the way for municipalities to increase copayments and deductibles up to the level set by the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC). It also allows for cities and towns to join the GIC, if the state plan can provide additional savings.

GOVERNOR PROPOSES 3% STATE & TEACHER COLA

Budget Also Includes Full GIC Funding

JANUARY 24, 2013: Governor Deval Patrick proposed a full 3% COLA increase for eligible state and teacher retirees within his FY 2014 budget proposal filed on Wednesday. In November 2011, the state increased the COLA base for state and teacher retirees to $13,000.

COLA's for municipal and county retirees are the responsibility of local retirement systems. At this time, a number of local systems have begun discussions to approve a 3% COLA for their retirees come July 1.

GOVERNOR TO FILE FY14 BUDGET WEDNESDAY

GOVERNOR TO FILE FY14 BUDGET WEDNESDAY

Retiree Healthcare Bill Not Included

JANUARY 22, 2013: When Governor Deval Patrick files his FY 14 Budget proposal on Wednesday, it is not expected to contain legislation to reform retiree healthcare. Observers now anticipate a stand-alone bill to be filed in late January or early February that mirrors the report filed by the Special Commission on Retiree Healthcare, issued in December.

State retiree health system needs major reforms

Boston Globe Editorial
January 16, 2013

Chained CPI Is a Vote to Cut Social Security Benefits

The following letter was co-authored by Eric Kingson and Nancy Altman, co-chairs of the Strengthen Social Security Coalition, and sent to every Congressional office.

Our coalition of 320 organizations representing a broad cross-section of the American people respectfully urges you to reject the use of the less-generous and less-accurate chained-CPI as the basis for Social Security's cost of living adjustments for current and future seniors, people with disabilities, and other beneficiaries.

PATRICK ENDORSES RETIREE HEALTH COMMISSION REPORT

PATRICK ENDORSES RETIREE HEALTH COMMISSION REPORT

Exempts Current Retirees And Includes Strong Retiree Protections

JANUARY 11, 2013:  Governor Deval Patrick has endorsed a report by the Special Commission on Retiree Healthcare that makes significant changes to public retiree healthcare benefits for future retirees, but not for current retirees. 

GOVERNOR PATRICK ANNOUNCES PLANS TO FILE LEGISLATION TO REFORM RETIREE HEALTH INSURANCE BENEFITS

Reform Would Tackle Fiscal Challenges Head-On, Save As Much as $20 Billion over the Next 30 Years

BOSTON – Friday, January 11, 2013 – Governor Deval Patrick today announced plans to file legislation to reform health insurance benefits for retirees that would save as much as $20 billion for the Commonwealth and municipalities over the next 30 years.  Today’s announcement builds on the Governor’s record of reform and his Administration’s commitment to fiscal responsibility for the long-run.

Repairs to Medicare

By Editorial Board, Sunday, January 6, 6:54 PM

Starting March 1: Electronic Payments Are a Must for S.S. Recipients

JANUARY 4, 2013: For years, Social Security has stressed the convenience, security, and safety of getting benefit payments electronically. Soon, direct deposit (or Direct Express) will not only be the best way to receive Federal benefit payments -- it will be the only way.

That's because the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced a new rule that will phase out paper checks for Federal benefit and non-tax payments by March 1, 2013.

Here is how the transition will work.

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.

HEALTHCARE COMMISSION ENDORSES MASSIVE $15-$20 BILLION REFORM

Retiree Protections Include Contribution Rate “Freeze”

DECEMBER 20, 2012: Following nine months of lengthy meetings, detailed analysis and intense negotiations the Special Commission on Retiree Healthcare completed its work today with an 11-1 vote to endorse a proposal that, if passed into law, will save Massachusetts taxpayers at least $15-$20 billion over the next thirty 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.

STATE RETIREMENT BOARD MOVES TO NEW HOME

STATE RETIREMENT BOARD MOVES TO NEW HOME

NOVEMBER 26, 2012: It was a busy Thanksgiving weekend for the staff of the State Board of Retirement who were engaged in the process of moving to their new home at 1 Winter Street in downtown Boston.

WINCHESTER RETIREE HEALTH INSURANCE UNDER ATTACK

NOVEMBER 19, 2012: Winchester retirees won’t be thinking kindly of the town’s board of selectmen this Thanksgiving after reading a letter from Town Manager Richard Howard about the future of their health insurance. That’s because the letter reported on the selectmen’s unanimous approval of insurance changes, presented to them by Howard earlier this month, that are aimed solely at dramatically increasing the health care costs for retirees. Howard was the mayor of Malden for approximately 17 years before being named to Wilmington’s top job by the selectmen.

MEDICARE ANNOUNCES $5 PART B INCREASE

NOVEMBER 19, 2012: Medicare has announced that the standard Medicare Part B premium will increase by $5 or approximately 5% in 2013.  The increase sets the new monthly Part B premium at $104.90.

This represents a smaller increase than had been projected by health care economists, who believed the increase would register at close to $9 a month. In 2012, Medicare Part B enrollees paid $99.90 a month.

With Social Security benefits set to increase by 1.7% in 2013, the $5 Medicare increase represents nearly 25% of the average COLA.

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.

Easthampton Postpones Insurance Action

NOVEMBER 8, 2012: Last night, the Easthampton City Council postponed any action on Mayor Tautznik’s proposal to adopt Sections 21-23 under which the mayor wants to negotiate a new insurance contract. The Council instructed Melissa Zawadzki, the city’s finance director, to provide the cost of entering into an insurance agreement with available plans that are available. She will then report back to the Council.

EASTHAMPTON EYES INSURANCE REFORMS

NOVEMBER 7, 2012: Easthampton – The nine-member Easthampton City Council will meet tonight, November 7, and vote on a proposal by Mayor Michael Tautznik to accept Sections 21-23 of Chapter 32B for purposes of negotiating a new health insurance agreement with the city’s employees and retirees.

It is reported that 2 members of the Council’s 3-member Subcommittee on Insurance are opposed to accepting Sections 21-23, while the chairman is in favor of acceptance. Sections 21-23 were a major component of Chapter 69, the Municipal Healthcare Reform law passed in 2011.

BIG WEEK FOR HEALTHCARE ON BEACON HILL ENDS

GIC & Special Commission Meetings Held

OCTOBER 26, 2012: On Tuesday, the Special Commission on Retiree Healthcare held its 5th meeting in six months, as it began to outline its report to be issued by December 20, 2012.

The Commission’s legislative mandate is to explore the means to reduce state and municipal retiree unfunded healthcare liabilities. Actuaries have projected the state’s 30-year unfunded liability at $16 billion, while municipal liabilities come in at $30 billion.