We are nearing the finish line for Municipal Health Care reform that will save taxpayers $100 million a year. But we need your help now.

Currently a Conference Committee is molding the two budgets--the House version and the Senate version--into one final budget, which will go to Governor Patrick in July, who will veto parts he chooses and eventually sign it.

We need calls and emails to these Conference Committee members to urge them to craft a policy with real savings.

There are significant differences between the House and Senate budgets in terms of potential for savings (see our chart - scroll to bottom).

Most significantly, the Senate Budget includes a series of amendments that will seriously hurt our chances at reform.

One provision mandates that towns equalize the contribution ratios of active employees and retirees (Amendment 65, Section 22e). This could put a huge burden back on municipalities as retirees' health care costs grow (read a recent opinion piece in the Globe). The MMA says this measure "could be prohibitively expensive," and is lobbying lawmakers not to include it. And this isn't the only measure that could hinder reform; the Senate budget included several last-minute changes and complications. Read the MMA's extensive letter to the conference committee against these measures here, or their action alert here.

Here is who to call/email, and below is what to say (calls to those in RED are higher priority)

Senate President Therese Murray: 617-722-1500, therese.murray@masenate.gov
Brian Dempsey (D-Haverhill): 617-722-2990, Brian.Dempsey@massmail.state.ma.us
Steven Kulik (D- Worthington): 617-722-2380, stephen.kulik@mahouse.gov
Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth):  617-722-2100, vinny@demacedo.org
Stephen Brewer (D-Barre): 617-722-1540, stephen.brewer@masenate.gov
Steven Baddour (D-Methuen): 617-722-1604, steven.baddour@masenate.gov
Michael Knapik (R-Westfield): 617-722-1415, michael.knapik@masenate.gov

  • Give cities and towns the same plan design authority the state has to determine health care plans for their employees without a negotiating window, and without a review board.
  • Make reform mandatory. Local option means many cities & towns won't get reform & their taxpayers will continue to overpay.
  • Don't pass the provision to equalize premium contribution ratios between retirees and active employees. It will only drive up spending for municipalities that desperately need relief.
  • Reject extra measures that will delay and complicate reform. The stakes are too high.
  • Voters are paying attention, and will hold their legislators accountable on this issue.
 
 
We're closer than we've ever been to real reform for the municipal health care system that's draining resources from our cities and towns.

But it's not going to happen without you.

Tomorrow the state Senate will debate their budget for fiscal year 2012. Municipal health care reform is estimated to save taxpayers $100 million annually.

We need you to call or email your State Senator tomorrow (Wed May 25).  Give your State Senator the following message:


  • Give cities and towns the same plan design authority the state has to determine health care plans for their employees without a negotiating window.
  • Make reform mandatory. A local option for adoption of plan design will be a huge blockade to reform, and Massachusetts cannot afford any more of this waste.
  • Voters are paying attention, and will hold their State Senators accountable on this issue.
 
 
Last week the House of Representatives voted 111-42 to pass a version of the DeLeo/Dempsey plan, but with a few concessions:
  • There is a 30-day negotiation period for making changes to the plan. This means municipal authorities present their version of the plan, then negotiate with the municipal employee unions for 30 days.
  • If at the end of the negotiating period, the parties have agreed on the details, then 10% of the estimated savings will go to the employee union members for a health care program they decide on. If the parties have not agreed, then 20% of the annual savings goes into an account to offset the cost of "high utilizers."
  • Local approval is required. This means that the board of aldermen or council members of each municipality must vote to institute the plan in that municipality. Depending on the municipality, this could prove to be a sticking point.
Step 1. See how your representative voted here. Then contact your representative to thank them for supporting reform, or to express your disappointment if they didn't.

Step 2. The Senate House & Ways Committee will come out with its version of the 2012 Budget within a month or so, and it will have its own version of Municipal Health Care Reform. Voters Count will issue an Action Alert at that time.

Read more about it here.
 
 
This is it folks - the very reason Voters Count came into existence is for the opportunity we have right here, right now. State representatives are going to spend this coming week debating 2 issues: 1) municipal health care reform, and 2) the Pacheco Law. These are both money-wasting boondoggles (over $150 million a year combined) and we have a chance to end them!!

But to be successful, your state representatives need to hear from you. If they only hear from labor representatives, all hope is lost. Regular voters far outnumber the special interests that are doing heavy lobbying to kill any reform, so let's get those calls and emails going and show them we are watching!

1. Find out how to contact your STATE REP by clicking here.
2. Tell him or her, either via email or phone, the following:
-- I am contacting you about 2 issues, municipal health care reform and the Pacheco Law.
-- I urge you to support Amendment 6 which would repeal the Pacheco Law.
-- I also strongly urge you to support House Speaker DeLeo's municipal health care proposal. The governor's plan is too vague and Rep. Walsh's plan is not reform at all.
-- I will be watching very closely how you vote on these issues, as they are very important to me.
-- Thank you.

Try to find out if they are supportive or not, and let us know at voterscount@gmail.com. And forward this message to a friend and get them to call & email too!

BACKGROUND
The Pacheco Law is the most restrictive anti-privatization law in the country and is estimated to waste over $55 million a year. Click here for more details on it.

Municipal health care reform would make it easier for cities and towns to offer more affordable (but still generous) health care coverage to their employees. It is estimated to save over $100 million a year. For more background and a simple compare-and-contrast chart of the various options on the table at this time, click here.

Thank you for making your voice heard! It is the only way to make a difference.
 
 
Five Representatives have proposed an amendment as part of the 2012 House Ways and Means Budget to repeal the Pacheco Law. Reps. Jones (R-North Reading), Peterson (R-Grafton), Hill (R-Ipswich), Poirier (R-North Attleboro) and deMacedo (R-Plymouth) have signed onto Amendment 6, calling for a repeal.

Call and email your representatives now and urge them to support the amendment!