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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.

DISABILITY PANEL HOLDS PUBLIC HEARINGS

OCTOBER 19, 2012: Disability pensions, always a cutting-edge source of press articles, mostly negative, was the subject under discussion at a public hearing of the Special Commission on Disability Pensions in Worcester yesterday.

This was the second such hearing this week. This first was held on Tuesday the 16th at the State House.

Yesterday’s hearing, which was held at the UMass Medical School was opened by a full-scale presentation by leaders of the 4,500 member Mass. Correction Officers Federation Union (MCOFU).

GIC TO SAVE $1.29 BILLION OVER 5 YEARS

Cost Containment RFP Seeks To Reshape Health Plans

OCTOBER 11, 2012: Phase 2 of Health Care Reform is now well underway in Massachusetts, with the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC) delivering the opening salvo in the battle over healthcare cost containment.

How Insurers Can Help

How Insurers Can Help

New York Times Editorial

October 1, 2012: Private insurance companies should be leading the way in the struggle to control health care costs. They know about every contact a patient has with the health care system and can see how much is wasteful or redundant. By altering the way they pay doctors and hospitals, they can potentially push providers to reduce costs, improve quality and even transform the whole culture of American medicine.

HUGH TURNOUT AT ANNUAL MEETINGS IN RANDOLPH AND PITTSFIELD

HUGH TURNOUT AT ANNUAL MEETINGS IN RANDOLPH AND PITTSFIELD

SEPTEMBER 21, 2012: Members turned out, by the hundreds, at the Annual Meetings, first in Randolph and then in Pittsfield for those living in Western Mass. “While the western meeting has traditionally been held in Pittsfield, this was our fourth year at Lantana’s in Randolph,” according to Association Meeting Coordinator Leo Delaney.

PENSION DISABILITY COMMISSION CONVENES

PENSION DISABILITY COMMISSION CONVENES

Discards Press Criticism

SEPTEMBER 5, 2012: There were no fireworks as the Special Commission on Disability Pensions held its initial meeting at the State House yesterday.

With periodic press criticism of disability pensions, most recently last month’s series of articles in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette focusing on the “need to look closely at the criteria for allowing public safety personnel to retire with tax-free disability pensions,” there was concern by employee unions of a possible “witch hunt” on Beacon Hill.

DISABILITY PANEL TO CONVENE

Association Holds Seat on Commission

AUGUST 10, 2012: At long last, the Special Commission on Disability will be holding its initial meeting. This coming September 7 has been scheduled for a meeting date of the 12 Commission members at the State House.

Health bill signed amid hopes for $200b in savings

Bill builds on law passed when GOP candidate Mitt Romney was governor

Boston Globe
August 7, 2012
By Michael Levenson

Six years after Governor Mitt Romney required every resident to obtain health insurance, Governor Deval Patrick signed a law that many consider the second phase of that groundbreaking experiment: trying to rein in the state’s health costs, which are among the highest in the nation.

LEGISLATURE PASSES HEALTHCARE PAYMENT REFORM BILL

Will Impact GIC & Municipal Insurance Plans

AUGUST 3, 2012: As the formal 2011-2012 Legislative Session drew to a close on Tuesday, House and Senate negotiators completed work on a long anticipated bill aimed at curbing the rise in health care costs over the next 15-years. The bill, which now awaits the approval of Governor Deval Patrick, is estimated to save Massachusetts citizens some $200 billion over fifteen years.

FORMAL LEGISLATIVE SESSION WINDS DOWN

Major Issues To Be Addressed

JULY 30, 2012: As formal activity in the 2011-2012 Legislative Session draws to a close this week, a flurry of activity on Beacon Hill will occur to resolve several major issues. Paramount among the remaining bills is a House/Senate Conference Committee report on Healthcare Payment Reform.

HEALTHCARE COMMISSION MEETS

Proposals Begin To Take Shape

JULY 18, 2012: The Special Commission on Retiree Healthcare met for more than two hours Wednesday morning in an effort to develop a list of potential reform measures to place before an actuary for cost analysis.

RETIREE HEALTHCARE COMMISSION TO MEET

Reform Proposals Taking Shape

JULY 16, 2012: The Special Commission on Retiree Healthcare will enter the next phase of its deliberations this Wednesday, July 18th, when it convenes its third meeting in as many months.

Comprised of 11 members, the Commission’s purpose is to study and investigate both the long-term and ongoing cost of public retiree healthcare. The Commission is then to file a report with the Legislature by November 30, detailing its findings and making recommendations for further reforms.

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.

GOVERNOR APPROVES RETIREE BUDGET AMENDMENTS

3% State & Teacher COLA On $13k Base Included

JULY 9, 2012: On Sunday, Governor Patrick signed the $32.6 billion FY13 state budget into law. Contained within the budget is a new 3% State & Teacher COLA, a minimum survivor pension increase for disability retirees’ survivors and access to the Group Insurance Commission’s retiree dental plan for municipal retirees insured under the state plan.

LEGISLATURE PASSES RETIREE AMENDMENTS

Extends Dental & Survivor Benefits

JUNE 28, 2012: Retirees and survivors were greeted with good news late last night, as House and Senate budget negotiators announced an agreement on the $32.5 billion FY13 state budget. Beyond a 3% state & teacher COLA on the new $13,000 base are two long-sought benefit enhancements.

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.

Mass. needs more realistic goal for pension fund returns

Boston Globe Editorial, June 24, 2012

In some ways, lowering expectations for returns on the state’s pension fund investments is an easy call. Current state law requires the Massachusetts pension board to assume an 8.25 percent annualized rate of return, but in recent years that has come to seem too optimistic. Massachusetts needs to start stepping its pension expectations down — but in a deliberate way, to limit the impact on government agencies that will need to contribute more.

On pensions, Boston should avoid extra annual hike

Boston Globe Editorial, June 24, 2012:

GIC DEADLINE EXTENDED

Peabody & Orange Eye January Entry

JUNE 20, 2012: A newly enacted change to insurance law has opened the door for mid-year entry into the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC). Unless otherwise provided by special act, enrollment in the GIC has traditionally begun on July 1.

Under Chapter 118, the FY13 Supplemental Budget signed into law by Governor Patrick on June 19, 2012, municipalities may now also enter the GIC on January 1, if they notify the agency of their intention to do so by July 1 of the previous year.

COLAs: FOCUS OF GLOBE ARTICLE

COLAs: FOCUS OF GLOBE ARTICLE

Piece Fair But Incomplete Picture

JUNE 18, 2012: Figures don’t tell the full story when pension cost-of-living increases are discussed in the press.

Boston considers hike in retirees’ pensions

By Andrew Ryan,
Globe Staff

June 18, 2012: As cities and states across the nation take aim at public employee pensions, Boston City Hall is engaged in a very different debate: how much to increase retirees’ checks.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino is proposing to boost the annual cost-of-living adjustment for most pensioners from $360 to $390, a $30 increase. City Council president Stephen J. Murphy is pushing for more, seeking a $90 increase over the current rate.