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Mass. Lawmakers Divided On Health Insurance Proposals

Some key House Democrats are supporting a union-backed health insurance proposal over the plan from House Speaker Robert DeLeo. The support for the union plan will likely shape the budget debate that begins in the House next week.

Union leaders complain the proposal to give cities and towns more autonomy in decisions about health plans is an attack on collective bargaining.

Now, 50 House Democrats — including six of DeLeo's committee chairs — are backing a union alternative to require negotiations on any changes.

Geoff Beckwith, with the Massachusetts Municipal Association, said that plan could actually increase health costs.

"The amendment would actually be a step backward. It would require cities and towns to continue to get union approval for changes in co-pays and deductibles," Beckwith said. "If there isn't an agreement, it would go for the first time ever to binding arbitration."

Unless some backers of the union plan change their positions, House leaders would need help from Republicans to win passage of their proposal.

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This program aired on April 21, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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