Gov. signs bill to avoid health insurance spike for retired teachers

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Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill yesterday that will enable nearly 1,000 retired school teachers to avoid a health insurance premium increase next year that was estimated at between 30 and 80 percent.
 
The retired teachers are members of the Group Insurance Commission’s Retired Municipal Teachers and Elderly Governmental Employees risk pool, known as Pool 2. (Municipalities and school districts may opt into Pool 2 for health insurance for retired teachers, though none has done so since 1996.)
 
By statute, Pool 2, with roughly 10,000 members, was separate from Pool 1, which includes both active state and municipal employees and retirees and has about 440,000 members. As a result of the small size of Pool 2, however, only one carrier, UniCare, bid on the risk pool. This meant that 955 of its members would have had to change plans, at an exorbitant increase.
 
With the GIC’s support, the governor filed a bill on March 16 to merge the two pools in order to avoid the price spike for retired teachers – and for municipalities that pay a portion of their premiums.
 
The MMA testified in support of the legislation at a hearing before the Joint Committee on Public Service on March 20.
 
The Legislature had to act quickly on the bill in order to have the changes in place for the beginning of open enrollment on April 4.