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Health Reform

Oct 2, 2014 - 4:25PM
Health Reform

Last week, the Mass Taxpayers Foundation (MTF) released its latest report on municipal retiree health insurance. As expected the report finds that the cost of municipal health insurance plans is unsustainable, and as such, benefit reductions are called for.

What nonsense. The MTF's assertions are made through the use of selected data, and don't give the whole picture. Limiting the use of property tax levy in the 10 "poorest" communities as the focal point for the report's findings is not really an objective measuring stick. State aid and other revenues, generally doubling the property tax levy, must be included in the equation to objectively analyze a community's ability to pay.

The report intentionally neglects to state the $250M in heath care savings that resulted from the passage of municipal Health Care Reform in 2011. Ironically, the report omits the City of Fall River from its findings and the Health Care Reform savings to the taxpayer in that city was over $8M in FY14 and a total of $12.104 million since FY13!!

Further, several of the communities profiled by the latest MTF report have not enacted the reforms already passed by the Legislature over the past five years. Tools are already available for municipalities to gain control over local healthcare costs, but there is one glaring matter that deserves immediate adjustment.

At this time, anyone who retires from a city job after 10 years gets health insurance for life. That's ridiculous. Your rates of health care coverage should be tied to your retirement percentage. For example, in order to receive the maximum pension, police and fire must have been employed for 32 years and be at least 55 years old. Anything less than either of those reduces your pension percentage significantly.

Let's Use Alderman Mortimer as an example. Instead of getting full coverage after 10 years on the Board, he would get 20% coverage if he was 50 years old (I don't know how old he is) and retired after 10 years. He would be responsible for the other 80%.

To get full coverage, you should be required to have worked your entire career for the city and be a minimum age. Reducing benefits for those already retired is not the way to go. The way to go is eliminating the current 10 year requirement for full benefits and implementing a system based on your retirement percentage.

Oct 3, 2014 - 4:00PM
Re: Health Reform

I completely agree. This is a brilliant idea. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that chart says you can't even get a retirement benefit until you've worked twenty years. Why should anyone get full health coverage after only being there ten?

Oct 3, 2014 - 4:25PM
Re: Health Reform

I also agree. Using the exact same numbers as on the retirement chart wouldn't work - retirees now pay 15% and the chart would have them paying at full retirement 20%, but a slightly altered version of the same general idea would be perfect with a top split of 15% retiree/85% city rather than the 20% retiree/80% city the chart would say. I also think you should get no benefit if you leave before 20 years. That ten years/get full benefit is outrageous. Have it apply to all new hires. For example, 20 years 20% benefit.............26 years 50%.............32 years 85%. Along with the huge savings the City already realizes from GIC, over 3 million a year since 2009, which will continue through 2021 thanks to a new agreement between the unions and the City, it's clear that current employees and retirees have done their part already, but that 10 years entitlement ought to be done away with immediately.