GN: The following is cross-posted from the City Manager’s Blog. I have also attached a copy of his letter to the committee on Public Service.
City Manager Provides Testimony on Health Insurance Reform
March 8, 2011 by Office of the City Manager
Today at the State House, City Manager Lynch joined managers and mayors from around the state, including Boston, Somerville, Salem, Revere, Melrose, Revere and Brookline, to provide testimony to lawmakers in support of improved tools to address the out of control cost of health insurance for municipalities. In testimony (see below for complete text) to the chairs of the Joint Committee on Public Service, Manager Lynch describes the scope of the problem where health insurance costs for the City of Lowell have increased by $25 million in 10 years and where the cost of providing health insurance once represented 6% of total municipal spending but now exceeds 16%. This level of increase represents an unsustainable trend and will most certainly impede the ability to provide services at the same level if allowed to continue unchecked.
Over the last four years, the administration has taken a proactive approach to addressing the cost of health insurance by working with the unions and instituting such measures as the availability of an HMO for all employees including teachers, providing education around coverage options to reduce the number of employees on the costly Master Medical indemnity plan and requiring all eligible retirees to accept their Medicare benefits. These measures have provided savings and preserved jobs and yet the health insurance problem continues to loom large, particularly in a time where local aid continues to shrink. In addition to legislation, Manager Lynch has also convened the city’s unions to participate in coalition bargaining to address the health care issue.
Manager Lynch urged the Committee on Public Service to report favorably on HR 2964 entitled An Act to Provide Health Insurance Parity for Municipalities and Local Taxpayers. Testimony also addresses the home rule petition filed at the request of the Lowell City Council, HR 1627 entitled An Act Relative to Insurance Policies for Employees of the City of Lowell that will provide the plan design authority similiar to the state government.