Budget Deal Reached On Mass. Municipal Health Care

After a week of negotiations, an agreement has been reached at the State House on a plan to reduce the cost to Massachusetts cities and towns of providing health care for municipal employees.

Gov. Deval Patrick issued a statement late Friday saying he plans to file amendments Monday to a municipal health care reform bill sent to him by the Legislature as part of the $30.6 billion state budget last week. He said the changes will make "a few improvements" and deliver cost savings to municipalities while also giving organized labor a say in the process. The governor had sought to make sure labor has a "meaningful voice" in future health insurance contract talks.

Massachusetts Teachers Association President Paul Toner says he’s confident the amendments Patrick plans to file will address labor’s main concern,"which has all along been protecting from high out-of-pocket costs in their health insurance."

Municipal leaders say the changes related to retiree costs and the distribution of savings will still allow cities and towns to save tens of millions of dollars this year.

Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer applauded the compromise.

"This is a very important step to put cities and towns on stronger fiscal footing while still providing very generous health care benefits for municipal employees and retirees," Widmer said.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray both said Friday they support the changes. The House and Senate are expected to vote on the amendments Monday.

With reporting from The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

This program aired on July 8, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.


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