What’s happing in 2022

Weekly uodate: January 7, 2022: Happy New Year! I hope you are well and had a nice holiday season. After spending some time with family between Christmas and New Year’s, we’re right back to work and ready for what will likely be a very busy year.
Before I outline some of the issues that we are focused on for 2022, let me first remind you that our next Tele-Town Hall meeting takes place next Friday, January 14, 2022 at 1:00 PM EST. The topic of focus will be the proposed improvements to the COLA, as well as walking through the process involved in implementing these improvements at the local level. Both the November and January editions of The Voice heavily focused on these issues. Next week’s Town Hall will provide the opportunity to take your questions and dive a little deeper into the topic.
The calendar of events, as well as details on how Mass Retirees members can participate in our Town Hall Meetings is contained on page 3 of each edition of The Voice. The toll-free number to connect to the meeting is also printed on your 2022 Membership Card. That number is 833-491-0336. Call it at the time of the event to be automatically connected. In addition, we will continue to place the auto-connect phone calls to members. Simply answer the phone at the time of the meeting and you will automatically join the meeting.

Watch today's video report here!

We believe that the stage is now set at both the state and local level of government for improvements to be made to the COLA. While our public retirement systems are finalizing last year’s investment returns, I am confident in stating that 2021 will prove to be a historic year. Following a solid decade of pension fund investment returns that far exceeded expectations, our retirement systems should be able to share that success with retirees through improvements to the COLA.
Several bills involving the COLA are now pending at the State House, along with other legislative proposals sponsored by our Association. At the same time work is now underway on the Fiscal Year 2023 State Budget, with Governor Baker set to file his budget proposal by Wednesday, January 26. The House will likely take up their version of the budget in April, with the Senate traditionally acting in May. Formal legislative activity wraps up at the end of July.
At the national level we continue to work hand-in-hand with our national coalition partners on an all-out effort to pass federal legislation to bring current retirees relief from the Social Security WEP and GPO laws. The current Congress remains in session until January 2023, with the federal mid-term General Election taking place in November. As we report in the January Voice, four separate WEP/GPO bills are now before the US House of Representatives. Please look to your newsletter for the latest information on this topic, as well as a complete breakdown of the difference between the four proposals.
In the area of retiree health insurance, we are closely monitoring developments in two related areas. First are the health plans and insurance premiums taking effect for FY23 (July 1, 2022). Those decisions will be made by the state’s GIC and local insurance providers over the next three months. While we do not anticipate any major changes in retiree health insurance coverage or significant cost increases for FY23, one can never take things for granted when it comes to healthcare.
The 2nd area of major interest when it comes to your health insurance coverage is the procurement process which the GIC is about to formally launch this spring. As we have reported, all the GIC’s health insurance and pharmaceutical benefit plan contracts expire in 2023. This means that the current plan offerings, plan design, and costs are all subject to change – in other words, a really big deal that warrants our close attention.
In February, we will hold a Town Hall Meeting focused on Retiree Health Care.
In future Weekly Updates I will focus on some of the other important issues that we’re working on (Veterans benefits, retiree Life Insurance, Option B/C, survivor benefits, etc). If you have suggestions for future topics, please feel free to let me know. I’m always looking for new ideas.
Before wrapping up this week’s message, I’d like to mention the ongoing pandemic and this new surge of cases that is happening across the world due to the highly contagious Omicron variant. First, I hope that you and your loved ones are well. It is safe to say that we all hoped that COVID-19 would largely be a thing of the past by now. While that is not the case, we are not powerless in how we react to this challenge.
We must continue to take the logical steps needed to keep ourselves, our families and those around us safe – while also adapting to the reality that this virus may not be easily conquered.
What I do know for certain is that our Association will continue to operate and serve our members as we have done since 1968. We are here for you. Do not hesitate to reach out if you need help or have a question.
I’m excited for 2022 and hope that we are all in a better place within the coming year.

With great appreciation,
Shawn Duhamel
Chief Executive Officer
Mass Retirees Association