Public Service Weighing Association Proposals

JULY 26, 2013: September looks to be when the legislature will begin to actively consider H59, Governor Deval Patrick’s much anticipated Retiree Healthcare Reform proposal. As employees and retirees are well aware, the bill has been awaiting action before the Joint Committee on Public Service since filed by the governor in February.

Of great importance to active employees and deferred retirees are the provisions within the bill that affect healthcare eligibility and premium contributions for future retirees. Current retirees are not only grandfathered under their current benefit structure, but are also held harmless from future changes in insurance premium contribution percentages under the proposal.

Association and union officials continue to work in tandem on the bill to ensure that the retiree protections, supported by the governor and state Treasurer Steve Grossman, remain intact, as well as to hold harmless those active employees close to retirement age.

While no specific hearing date has been set, the Public Service Committee will likely hold a public hearing on H59 in late September. Once released by the Committee, the bill would then go before either the House or Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

“Both Ways and Means committees will fully vet and likely alter the proposal before it is voted on by the House and Senate. If the versions differ, the bill will then go to conference committee,” explained Association Legislative Liaison Shawn Duhamel. “Our office continues to hear from employees who are very concerned about their future healthcare benefits. This bill is not going to pass overnight, so there is no need for anyone to panic and rush to retire. That said, everyone should keep a very close eye on this issue come fall.”

In addition to H59, the Public Service Committee is also weighing action on a host of insurance related bills filed by our Association. The legislation was heard by the Committee at their July 23, 2013 hearing and will likely be considered along with H59 later this year.