GIC Seeks Options For RMT Enrollees

GIC Seeks Options For RMT Enrollees
President Frank Valeri and Counsel Bill Rehrey Testify at State House Hearing

Teachers’ Program Dates to 1972

Mass Retirees and teacher union officials are urging the GIC to seek ways to expand the health insurance offerings available to the 10,000 teachers participating in the Retired Municipal Teacher (RMT) program. As the only respondent to the GIC’s procurement process last fall, UniCare is set to become the sole health insurance provider for RMTs in FY19.

Best known for their Option Medicare Extension (OME) plan and the non-Medicare Basic Indemnity Plan, UniCare is a popular option for the majority of retirees due to the open-nature of the plan. However, the coverage can be more expensive than the PPO or HMO options available to none RMTs.

Last week, GIC Executive Director responded to requests by our Association, the MTA, AFT and municipal leaders by announcing that the GIC is working with UniCare in an attempt to expand insurance choices to include lower cost options for all RMTs.

The GIC also insures thousands of retired and active teachers outside of the RMT program, along with municipal retirees and workers. These enrollees are part of the municipal insurance program, where cities and towns can opt to enroll all local retires and employees in the GIC. Under this process cities and towns continue to set insurance premium contribution levels, while the GIC establishes health insurance plan offerings, plan design and out-of-pocket costs.

All RMT participants pay the same premium contribution, which is either 10% or 15% depending on the date of retirement. 

Created by statute in 1972 as a means to withhold insurance premium contributions from retired teachers’ pensions, the RMT program was once made-up of nearly 80 school districts. As we explain in the upcoming March edition of the Voice, the program is now down to some 45 districts.

State law allows cities and towns to withdraw from the RMT program by a majority vote of the local legislative body. If a community opts to withdraw, retired teachers are then enrolled in the local health insurance program along with other municipal retirees and active employees.

The RMT law also requires that the GIC treat RMT participants as a separate pool of enrollees, that is distinct from state retirees, employees or municipalities that fully participate in the GIC. Pool 2, as it is commonly known, contains roughly 10,000 retired teachers under the RMT program.

“Trying to fit a forty-five year old law into modern health insurance policy has proven to be complicated. We’re working with both the MTA & AFT, as well as the GIC, to find a short-term solution to offer RMTs with a broader range of options for FY19,” explains Association General Counsel Bill Rehrey. “If needed, we’ll also pursue a change in the law to ensure that the RMT program continues to work well.”

The GIC is expected to unveil FY19 rates and full plan options on Thursday, February 22nd. Mass Retirees will provide a full update to members at that time.