This month, the Chamber joined a broad-based coalition called Mass Reform First to advocate for “plan design” – legislation that will enable municipalities to change health plan features such as co-pays and deductibles without having to go through the collective bargaining process. Currently, private employers are able to redesign employee benefit packages to help mitigate escalating health care costs, while municipalities are unable to take the same steps due to the collective bargaining process. As a result, those costs are wreaking havoc with municipal budgets – increasing pressure to raise property taxes and cut vital services such as education and public safety. The situation is exacerbated by significant cuts in local aid for the 4th consecutive year. Meaningful municipal health insurance reform is needed.
The Chamber recently submitted testimony in support of H.2457, An Act Relative to Municipal Health Insurance Reform. The bill gives local officials the power to design health insurance plans outside of collective bargaining and requires that all eligible local government retirees enroll in Medicare as their primary source of health insurance coverage. H.2457 provides much needed relief to cities and towns and will help preserve vital local services. The Chamber will continue to advocate for effective municipal health insurance reform.