ONLY A HALF DOZEN MUNICIPALITIES HAVE SIGNED UP FOR THE COMING YEAR TO A STATE HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM…AN OPTION CREATED TO SAVE CITIES AND TOWNS MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. A LAW PASSED IN JULY LETS CITIES AND TOWNS JOIN THE STATE’S GROUP INSURANCE COMMISSION, OR GIC, WHERE PREMIUM INCREASES ARE TYPICALLY HALF OF WHAT MOST EMPLOYERS PAY. MUNICIPALITES CAN NOT JOIN UNLESS 70% OF UNION LEADERS APPROVE THE MOVE. GIC DIRECTOR DOLORES MITCHELL SAYS SHE EXPECTED A SLOW START.
This has been a very strenuous effort that the communities have to make, not only educating their board of selectmen, but also the union people who have to make a big decision. And the time frame was very very brief.
ON FRIDAY, HOUSE SPEAKER SAL DIMASI IS EXPECTED TO ANNOUNCE A ONE MONTH EXTENSION OF THE OCTOBER FIRST DEADLINE FOR JOINING THE GIC …WHICH COULD GIVE ANOTHER DOZEN OR SO COMMUNITIES TIME TO GET APPROVALS NEEDED TO ENROLL. BOSTON MUNICIPAL RESEARCH BUREAU PRESIDENT SAM TYLER IS DISAPPOINTED WITH THE RESULTS SO FAR.
TYLER SAYS IT MAY BE TIME TO LET COMMUNITIES TRANSFER INTO THE GIC EVEN IF UNIONS DON'T APPROVE THE MOVE.
This is one of the drivers of municipal spending and if the solution is, over 4-5 years, towns may join, some may not, that isn’t really the solution this GIC bill was touted to be.
BUT REPRESENATIVE RACHEL KAPRELIAN, WHO SPONSORED THE INITIAL BILL, DOES NOT FAVOR FORCING CITIES AND TOWNS INTO THE STATE'S INSURANCE SYSTEM.
There’s no more powerful incentive than being able to save hundreds of thousands and in some cases millions of dollars. But the decision should be in the best interest of the municipality and only the municipal leaders will be able to ascertain that.
WHAT'S YOUR TAKE...SHOULD THE STATE PROD MORE COMMUNITIES TO JOIN THE GIC?
This program aired on September 27, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.