This letter appeared in the Sunday Globe, November 8th 2009
To the Editor:
Yesterday’s Globe editorial, “Patrick should cut local aid, ease up on human services” was on the right track regarding municipal health insurance, but didn’t go quite far enough.
The Patrick administration and the legislature should allow municipal officials the same powers that the state enjoys. That is, remove health insurance plan design from collective bargaining altogether and allow management the ability to update plans unilaterally. As a safeguard, the state could also mandate that plans offer equal or better coverage than those offered under the Group Insurance Commission
According to Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, health insurance represents the topmost money-saving opportunity for local communities. The Massachusetts Municipal Association reports that giving municipalities the right to unilaterally update plan designs could save tens of millions of dollars statewide.
Local officials need the ability to purchase health insurance in a sustainable fashion now, during this fiscal crisis, and into the future. The Patrick administration and the legislature are missing an opportunity to aid local communities without any additional strain on the state budget.