JAN 2007 - Over 13 years ago, Framingham became the second municipality to adopt the coalition bargaining law (Section 19), with Lexington being the first. “We’re pleased to report that coalition bargaining is operating smoothly in Framingham, and will continue to do so,” according to Associations Insurance Coordinator Cheryl Stillman.
Until recently, Bob Foley, a retired firefighter, was the Association’s
designee on the bargaining committee which negotiated with town
officials over the health insurance plans for the retirees, employees
and their families.“We appreciate the years that Bob has dedicated to
the committee and reluctantly accede to his wishes to step aside at
this time.  Thank you again Bob.
“And, fortunately we won’t lose a beat with the Association member who
will be taking Bob’s place,”  continues Stillman. “I expect that many
of our Framingham members will recognize the name - Suzanne Wallace. As
a teacher and now a retiree, Suzanne has been at the forefront on the
issue of health insurance for Framingham’s retirees and employees.”
“I remember speaking with Suzanne back in ’93 when coalition bargaining
was being adopted in Framingham and she was president of the local
teachers’ union,” recalls Association General Counsel Bill Rehrey. 
“Even then, she was very much concerned about how retirees and
survivors would be affected by coalition bargaining, and there’s no
question she knows her stuff.”
Since the beginning of coalition bargaining in Framingham, Wallace has
served on the public employee committee (PEC) as the teacher union
representative. She is the PEC’s acting chair.
“I thank the Association for giving me the opportunity to continue
serving my fellow retirees and their families,” states Wallace.  “Be
assured that I would never accept such a responsibility without
committing myself fully to the task at hand.”
Three Year Contract
By way of background, Framingham is currently maintaining its health
insurance plans under a three-year contract that was agreed upon by the
PEC and town officials last year. Wallace credited Boston Benefits
Partners for their role as consultants during the negotiations leading
to the current contract.
Under the existing coalition bargaining agreement, retirees and
employees can choose from several Blue Cross products. Editor’s Note:
Framingham has not adopted Section 18 or Mandatory Medicare; therefore,
retirees or survivors, who are eligible for Medicare, can enroll in a
non-Medicare plan. They include: Blue Choice, Blue Care Elect, HMO Blue
and three Medicare supplement plans, Medex 3, Blue Care 65 and Master
Medical Carve Out.
An important feature of the coalition bargaining law is that all
enrollees, in a particular insurance plan (i.e., Blue Choice), pay the
same percentage toward the premium. In other words, a retiree, survivor
and employee all pay 20% of the premium for the Blue Choice plan
offered by Framingham.
While the contribution percentage is uniform for all in a particular
plan, the PEC and town officials can agree that the percentage can vary
among the insurance plans being offered, and that’s what they’ve done
in Framingham. The contribution percentage, paid by retirees, survivors
and employees, ranges from 10% for HMO Blue and Blue Care 65 to 20% for
Blue Choice and finally 25% for Blue Care Elect, Medex 3 and Master
Medical Carve Out.
For those retirees, who decide to enroll in Medicare, Framingham
reimburses a portion of their Medicare Part B premium. Currently, the
refund is approximately one-half of the Part B premium.
“Framingham, and other coalition bargaining towns, have shown that the
law can work for everyone,” points out Stillman. “We hope that
retirees, employees and officials in other communities take a good look
at the experience in these towns and consider adopting the coalition
bargaining law for their health insurance program.”