2007 JULY - As communities focus more and more on paying for health insurance, local retirees have been organizing to better defend against attempts to reduce their benefits or shift costs onto them. This is not an entirely new phenomenon, since there are examples of municipal retiree groups, with a long and productive history, such as in Newton, Plymouth and Attleboro.

<*><*>What we are now witnessing is an upsurge of interest among local
retirees to join together when it comes to their health insurance. In
our May Voice, we reported on the Wellfleet Retiree Group.<*>Another example can be found in the town of Middleboro where retirees
are now organizing themselves. “There are about 335 retirees who are
enrolled in the town’s insurance plans, and almost 195 of them still
live here,” according to Association member Gene Turney, who is a
retired firefighter. “Others and myself believe that the time has come
for us to organize and become a much more effective voice when critical
decisions on our insurance are being made.”<* />
Turney and the other organizers decided upon the name “Middleborough
Retiree Insurance Group” with the acronym “MRIG”. An executive
committee, that includes a good cross section of retirees, was created
and invited their fellow retirees to a meeting to learn more about MRIG.<* /><*>
“We held the meeting to gauge the amount of interest out there and see
if it would be worthwhile to continue organizing,” reports Turney. “We
were pleased with the turnout – some 50 retirees with another 100 or so
responding by mail – and are moving forward. <* /><*>
“Association staff have proven to be an invaluable resource tool for
us. I wish to thank them for their continued help, particularly in
putting me in touch with the Wellfleet Retiree Group.”<* />
MRIG has published and distributed 2 news bulletins. In addition, it
has created its own email address
(MIDDLEBORO-RETIREES-INS-GROUP@comcast.net).<* /><*>
Middleboro participates in the municipal insurance pool known as the
Southeastern Massachusetts Health Group (SMHG). Beginning July 1,
Middleboro will be offering, through SMHG, Blue Care Elect Preferred
and HMO Blue, as well as Medex. Currently, retirees pay 25% of the
premium for Blue Care Elect Preferred and Medex and 10% of the HMO Blue.<* />
For retirees, who are enrolled in Blue Care Elect Preferred and HMO
Blue, the town has unitlaterally increased certain co-pays and
implemented new deductibles, this July 1. Even worse, town officials
have indicated that they may be looking for employees and retirees to
pay more of the monthly premium.<* /><*>
“What is happening, and may happen, with our insurance shows the need
to organize,” continues Turney. “We hope that our fellow retirees agree
and join MRIG.”