Retired Municipal Teachers Insurance Program Saved

Retired Municipal Teachers Insurance Program Saved

Legislature & Governor Take Quick Action to Avoid Premium Spike

March 27, 2018: At the urging of the Group Insurance Commission and Mass Retirees, the State Legislature and Governor Baker worked together to quickly head off a pending nightmare for the 10,000 teachers participating in the state’s Retired Municipal Teacher (RMT) Program.

The quick passage of this new law will help to lower and stabilize health insurance contribution premiums, as well as provide RMTs with the same health plan choices as all other 425,000 GIC enrollees. Teachers retired from the 46 school systems participating in the RMT Program will shortly be notified of their GIC health plan options and rates for FY19.

GIC Open Enrollment begins Wednesday, April 4th and continues until Wednesday, May 2nd.

Less than two weeks ago Governor Baker filed H4313, a bill that will legally move the RMT program from Pool 2 into the GIC’s Pool 1. Under the RMT law crafted in the early 1970s, participants in the RMT program were required to be grouped in their own pool, separate from state retirees and employees, as well as other municipal participants in the GIC.

As previously reported by Mass Retirees, problems began to develop for the RMT Program this winter when only one health insurance vendor opted to bid on providing coverage for Pool 2. The reason being that Pool 2 was only comprised of the 10,000 RMTs and less than 70 Elderly Governmental Retirees (EGRs are municipal retirees or surviving spouses who retired prior to 1966). By law Pool 2 was required to be an insured product, meaning the insurance company had to assume the risk of insuring the RMTs & EGRs.

“In February, it became known that we had a significant problem involving the RMTs. Having only one vendor bid (UniCare), would have eliminated freedom of choice for those enrolled in Pool 2. UniCare is a fantastic health plan and our members are very happy with their products, but healthcare is never one size fits all. All retirees deserve to have options from which to choose,” explains Mass Retirees President Frank Valeri. “An even bigger problem was going to be the sharp rise in insurance premiums that would have resulted from RMTs being isolated in Pool 2. The very nature of insurance is that enrollees share and offset risk amongst the larger group or pool. By placing all GIC enrollees together in Pool 1, the risk is spread out across the entire enrollment, helping to lower premiums.”

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Following the Governor’s filing of H4313 on Friday, March 16th, Mass Retirees officials worked closely with legislative leaders to quickly advance the bill through the process on Beacon Hill. This included a prompt hearing before the Joint Committee on Public Service March 20th, where Legislative Director Shawn Duhamel testified as to Mass Retirees strong support for the proposal. The hearing was followed by a favorably release by the Committee later that same day.

The bill was then sent to the House Ways and Means Committee, where it was released favorably on Monday and enacted by both the House and Senate the same day. Governor Baker signed the bill into law late Monday afternoon, ensuring RMTs will be protected going into FY19.

Mass Retirees wants to thank the state officials, legislative leaders and staff who focused on the quick passage of H4313 and saved RMTs from drastically increased premiums and lack of choice. Had this bill not passed, some retirees would have seen an 80% increase in their monthly premiums,” said Duhamel. “The long-term impact of placing all GIC enrollees in the same insurance pool is a win for everyone, in that it will stabilize costs and simplify the process. We are very happy with the outcome and appreciate the efforts made by Public Service Committee Chairmen Jerry Parisella and Paul Feeney to get this process underway.”