Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Band-Aid Won’t Fix Local Healthcare Costs

In case you missed it, the Public Service Committee held a public hearing yesterday to discuss the municipal health insurance reform bill.

During the hearing, the Lt. Gov. was quoted as saying “…health care spending was crowding out funds for key local services”, and this is one case where we would have to agree with Lt. Governor Murray. Health care is the largest cost driver at the local level, in some cases accounting for 15% of town’s budgets, and the status quo is unacceptable.

Thus, the reason that Republicans in the House filed legislation that would not only expedite the process of allowing cities and towns to join the Group Insurance Commission (GIC), but would give them the authority to determine health insurance costs for their employees by implementing Plan Design. If one of these measures is adopted, the Massachusetts Municipal Association estimates that most cities and towns will be able to lower their health insurance costs by as much as 6%.

What we can all agree on is that healthcare at the local level is out of control, and the option of saving cities and towns hundreds of millions of dollars is a discussion that needs to be had.