July 2015

Bill Numbers Assigned to Association's Legislative Package

As the Public Service Committee begins its work, all of the bills, in the Association’s 2015-2016 Legislative Package, have been assigned a number. It should be noted that with certain legislative initiatives, more than one bill may have been introduced on our behalf.

“We’ll keep you updated on each bill, either in the Voice, on our website or the 24-Hour Hotline,” Legislative Director Shawn Duhamel reminds us. “And, remember you can always call us here in the office or at home.” Ed Note: A more complete explanation of each legislative initiative is contained in the March Voice.

New Prescription Plan Coming for GIC's OME Enrollees

Only Medicare Retirees Subcribed to State Unicare Plan Impacted

July 2015 Voice: As of January 1, 2016 retirees enrolled in the state Group Insurance Commission’s (GIC) Optional Medicare Extension (OME) plan will receive their prescription drug benefits through a federal Medicare program known as EGWP.

The acronym, pronounced “Egg-Whip”, stands for Employer Group Waiver Program. Essentially, EGWP is a prescription drug program run by the federal government through Medicare Part D.

Mass Congressional Delegation Backs WEP Reform

HR711 Now Pending Before House Subcommittee on Social Security

July 2015 Voice: A milestone in our efforts to reform the Social Security Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) was reached in late May, when all nine members of the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation had officially signed on as cosponsors of HR711 – known as the Social Security Fairness Act.

Time to Refocus on COLA Base

$12,000 COLA Base Created in 1997 Amongst Heavy Opposition

July 2015 Voice: For nearly fifty years our Association has led the fight for cost-of-living benefits for public retirees. During that time several milestones have been reached, whereby COLA benefits have been incrementally increased for retirees.

Dedham Approves $15,000 COLA Base

July 2015 Voice: For the second time around, Dedham has increased its COLA Base. First, they went from $12,000 to $13,000 in 2014.

Then at the May Town Meeting, an article, recommended by both the Finance and Warrant Committees, was presented that would raise the Base to $15,000. It prompted a spirited debate.

Among those stepping to the microphone in support of the increase was Selectman Jim McDonald. He said many retirees were living on fixed income and the town should take care of its retired employees who had given a lot to the town.

2015 Legislative Process Underway

Hearings Held on Retiree Proposals

July 2015 Voice: After a slow start to the beginning of the 2015-16 Legislative Session, the public hearings before the Joint Committee on Public Service are now in full swing.

Several factors have contributed to this year’s slower start. During the last election cycle the House of Representatives witnessed the largest turnover in membership in decades. Several high-ranking members either retired or were elected to higher office, such as Boston Mayor Marty Walsh – a former State Rep. from Dorchester.