MMA statement on the Legislature’s municipal health insurance reform act

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For immediate release
For more information, contact: Geoff Beckwith at (617) 426-7272

Last night, House and Senate leaders announced agreement on a compromise plan to address the skyrocketing costs of municipal employee health insurance. The measure will be voted on and enacted by the Legislature when the fiscal 2012 state budget is adopted by legislators on Friday, July 1.

On behalf of local officials in every corner of the state, the Massachusetts Municipal Association applauds the Legislature’s outstanding work in creating a meaningful, fair, and effective reform plan that balances the needs of cities and towns, taxpayers, municipal employees, retirees and municipal unions.

The legislation that the House and Senate budget conferees, the House Speaker and Senate President have all agreed on, saves taxpayers money, preserves essential local services, protects municipal union jobs, guarantees equity with state employee health benefits, and provides municipal unions with more bargaining power than state unions have. This is a balanced and fair reform that would allow cities and towns to save $100 million in avoided health insurance costs, while guaranteeing a strong and meaningful voice and role for municipal unions at each step in the process.

Local officials look forward to Gov. Deval Patrick’s full support in signing the measure into law in the coming days.

Communities are in fiscal distress, and the Legislature’s municipal health insurance reform act offers the relief that taxpayers deserve. Soaring health insurance costs are forcing cuts in essential municipal and school services and forcing the elimination of teachers, firefighters, police officers and other key employees from local budgets. Cities and towns will use this reform to provide relief for local taxpayers, protect essential services, and preserve thousands of municipal jobs.

It is important to recognize the leadership of House Speaker Robert DeLeo, House Ways and Means Chair Brian Dempsey, House Ways and Means Vice Chair Stephen Kulik, Senate President Therese Murray, Senate Ways and Means Chair Stephen Brewer, Senate Ways and Means Vice Chair Steven Baddour, budget conferees Rep. Vinny deMacedo and Sen. Michael Knapik, Public Service Committee Chairs Rep. John Scibak and Sen. Katherine Clark, and all of the members of the House of Representatives and Senate who have advocated for reform this session. We look forward to working with all legislators, the administration and stakeholders to ensure that this reform plan delivers the relief and savings that every community needs.