As Open Enrollment Begins, GIC Begins Planning for 2019

As Open Enrollment Begins, GIC Begins Planning for 2019
GIC Open Enrollment Runs Until May 2nd

Governance, Transparency and Affordability Top Issues

April 5, 2018: Open enrollment is now underway for retirees enrolled in the state’s Group Insurance Commission. All changes take effect on July 1, 2018. The open enrollment period runs through May 2nd and coincides with GIC’s thirteen regional health fairs.

Click here for complete information on the GIC’s health plan offerings, as well as the full schedule of health fairs at the Enrollment Hub.

At today’s Commission meeting, which was held this morning at Boston’s State Transportation Building, the GIC spent time discussing and beginning to lay out a general framework for decision making processes heading into 2019. This follows the highly tumultuous and controversial procurement, plan design and rate setting process that occurred this past winter.

As Mass Retirees members recall, the GIC initially decided in a split-vote to dump Fallon, Harvard Pilgrim and Tufts from the plan offerings for FY 19 (Tufts was to remain on as a Medicare-only plan). After backlash from retirees and active employees, the GIC quickly reversed course and voted to maintain all current health plan providers.

In recent years Mass Retirees and the public employee unions have openly complained about the lack of transparency and public input into GIC decisions. GIC officials have vowed to reform the process prior to the start of the FY20 contract year (which begins on July 1, 2019). This includes the establishment of public hearings prior to final decisions being made by the 17-member Commission. Based on previous years’ timelines, hearings will likely occur in January.

The GIC is also examining its governing rules and structure. Today’s meeting unveiled the fact that the Commission has not, by in large, operated under an official set of written rules since the early 1990s, when former Governor William Weld “reformed” the GIC by abolishing longstanding practices such as Robert’s Rules of Order.

“Not only did Bill Weld remove the GIC Commissioners who opposed his point of view, but he also bent the governance of the Commission to suit his needs. Members may recall that Weld dumped the Mass Retirees’ representative to the GIC when she spoke against his moves to cost shift onto the backs of retirees,” recalls Association General Counsel Bill Rehrey. “We had one heck of a fight back then. Apparently, the damage done at that time lingers to this day.

“None of the current GIC Commissioners were on the Commission back then and cannot be blamed for what took place. However, after recent events it is clear that a better process needs to be formally adopted. We believe that a more open and transparent process will not only be better for our members, but also for the overall success of the GIC.”

Commissioner Tim Sullivan (Mass Teachers) has proposed new rules that would govern how decisions are made and information is shared. His proposal would require Commissioners be given details of plan changes 21 days in advance of a vote taking place, as well as requiring public hearings be held for input from enrollees.

While Sullivan’s motion received wide initial support from his fellow Commissioners, including retiree representative Jane Edmonds and his fellow labor representatives, further action was tabled until June. At that time the GIC plans to begin the process of establishing its new governing processes.

“We thank Tim Sullivan and the MTA for being out front on these issues. Tim, along with Jane Edmonds and Bobbi Kaplan (NAGE) have been very outspoken on the need for these reforms. Mass Retirees recently met with senior GIC staff to discuss our concerns as well,” says Legislative Director Shawn Duhamel. “Our Association will continue to work with the Commission and GIC staff to help them to improve the process and keep our members well informed.”

Click here for information on the GIC's FY19 health pland and enrollment.