Savings for Groups That Switch To State's Health Insurance Program

The Patrick administration is out with an assessment of groups and communities that have trimmed the cost of employee health insurance by joining the state's Group Insurance Commission (GIC).

Among the savings:

$10 million in the City of Quincy;
$2.6 million in the Town of Watertown;
$2.6 million in the City of Pittsfield; and
$1. 5 million in the Town of Norwood

A report out in May found that Springfield saved $14-$18 million in it's first 2 years at the GIC. The administration says cities and towns are using this money to avoid layoffs and program cuts.

Governor Patrick urges more municipalities to join. The take up rate is not too impressive so far.

Since the Governor signed pieces of the MPA into law in July 2007, 17 municipalities, six school districts and three planning councils/commissions/development districts have joined the state Group Insurance Commission (GIC).

Some supporters of this option say if the Governor was serious about expanding the GIC membership, he would let city and town leaders join without the 70% union sign-off required in the current law. Union leaders say the 70% sign-off was a compromise that secured their support for the GIC/health coverage law.

The Massachusetts Municipal Assocation continues to argue that switching to the GIC is not a magic bullet, but letting municipal officials set health insurance rules outside of contract negotiations is. The MMA supports legislation that would give local leaders the same authority the GIC has...which is to negotiate a benefit package with insurers...independent of union leaders.

Martha Bebinger

This program aired on August 5, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.


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