GIC subscribers get some good news
T he state’s Group Insurance Commission has voted to hold down premiums and other expenses for employees covered by the health
plans it offers over the coming fiscal year, and the
Legislature has approved a plan to protect a group of
1,000 retirees who were facing steep cost increases.
But these pieces of good news did not come
without a fight.
They followed concerted activism by public-sector unions, which successfully rallied their
members to oppose the GIC’s decision in January
to eliminate three carriers for active employees —
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Fallon Health and
Tufts Health Plan.
“Our active and retired members were not going
to allow Governor Baker and his appointees on the
GIC to treat working people with such disregard,”
said MTA President Barbara Madeloni. “MTA
members were out front in demonstrating union
strength and solidarity, and in the end this benefited
The GIC’s initial proposal to eliminate the three
carriers came as a surprise to many people, including
some of the commissioners, who complained that
they were given information on the proposal only
hours before it was to come up for a GIC vote.
The vote was 8 to 5, with all five commissioners
who represent labor opposing the plan and two
Active and retired employees responded by
flooding the governor’s office and the GIC with
phone calls and e-mails assailing the action and the
lack of transparency surrounding it.
On Jan. 30, unions held an emergency rally in
Boston that was attended by hundreds of members.
On Feb. 1, the GIC reversed the vote, retaining
the carriers for active employees.
In late February, the GIC set premium rates
and deductibles for the plans it will be offering to
roughly 400,000 active and retired public employees
beginning July 1. Most costs were held in check.
Some decreased, and the increases that were
approved will not surpass 2 percent on average.
But there was still concern for a group of
municipal retirees in what was known as “Pool
2,” who were to be locked into only one carrier:
UniCare. About 10 percent of this group faced large
The GIC filed a bill seeking relief for these
retirees, and the legislative fix passed in late March,
effectively merging the Pool 2 retirees in with the
rest of the GIC participants and opening access to
If labor representatives are successful, the effort
to ensure fairness will not end there.
Brockton educator Timothy Sullivan, who
represents the MTA on the GIC, has introduced
a motion to make the commission’s work more
transparent. The motion would require more public
hearings on proposed health insurance changes
and require that GIC administrators provide
commissioners with relevant information about
proposed changes at least 21 days before any
The commission was expected to act on
Sullivan’s motion shortly after MTA Today went to
In late February, the GIC set
premium rates and deductibles
for the plans it will be offering
to roughly 400,000 active and
retired public employees beginning
July 1. Most costs were held in
check. Some decreased, and the
increases that were approved will
not surpass 2 percent on average.
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