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Municipalities Say No To State Group Health Insurance Plan

A state program designed to help Massachusetts cities and towns lower health care insurance costs is attracting no new interest.

The Group Insurance Commission says not one additional community is joining the plan next year.

Gov. Deval Patrick has touted joining the commission as a way for municipalities to save money. But Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer says the requirement to get 70 percent union approval is tough.

"The evidence is clear: having to go through unions and get 70 percent approval is a very high hurdle and the reform on municipal health care has stalled," Widmer said.

Many union leaders say the benefit should be subject to collective bargaining.

GIC Executive Director Delores Mitchell says many municipal leaders had hoped state lawmakers would approve legislation that would remove insurance coverage from union bargaining.

"And I think that there were a lot of people who would have preferred that route and were waiting to see whether or not it would make its way through the Legislature," Mitchell said, "which in fact, it did not."

There are 20 communities and seven regional school districts that insure workers through the GIC.

This program aired on December 3, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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