State GIC to Hold Listening Tour

Focus on Pending FY20 Health Insurance Changes 

JANUARY 4, 2019: With potential changes to the state’s health insurance plans set to be announced on Thursday, January 17, the Group Insurance Commission (GIC) has scheduled a “Listening Tour” with planned meetings in Boston, Worcester and Springfield later this month. The three public meetings will take place before the 17-member GIC Commission votes on the proposed benefit changes on February 7 and sets rates for FY20 on February 28.

Last winter the GIC was heavily criticized for voting to move forward with a plan to consolidate health plans from six vendors to three – before holding public hearings. After hearing from concerned retirees, active employees and elected officials, the Commission promptly reversed course and reconsidered its early vote by deciding to maintain all six insurance carriers.

While plan design changes, out-of-pocket costs and premium rates have not yet been set for the coming fiscal year GIC observers do not anticipate dramatic changes for the coming year. That said, some changes in copayments and deductibles could take place.

“The days when we could count on insurance benefits and costs to remain the same year-after-year are long gone. Right now, in both the public and private sectors, we have to assume that benefits are always subject to change and that costs will likely continue to increase,” said Association Legislative Director Shawn Duhamel. “Mass Retirees advocates to maintain excellent quality insurance plans, at an affordable price.

“The GIC’s public meetings are an important forum for retirees and active employees to share their opinions from real people who are impacted by the GIC’s decisions.”

Mass Retirees officers will attend, as well as testify at the Boston meeting. We will also have local representatives attend and speak at both the Springfield and Worcester meeting. 

Association officials continue to encourage the GIC to hold additional meetings in each geographic area of the state, as well as hold the meetings in easily accessible locations. Last year, hundreds of attendees were turned away from the GIC’s Boston meeting due to over capacity.

The following is information on the three scheduled meetings that was provided by the GIC:

Dear Members:

Attached is a meeting flyer reflecting updates to the street addresses of the Worcester and Springfield meetings as well as parking information. We have also included a campus map of Worcester State University highlighting the location of the Student Center (Blue Lounge).

Our listening sessions will feature a summary of the recommended benefit design proposals for the FY20 benefit year, which are scheduled to be presented at the January 17 GIC meeting.

These listening sessions are open to the public, and our intention is to have a broad discussion about the benefit offerings for our 425,000+ members. This will not be an appropriate forum for specific questions relative to individual cases or claims. Our Public Information Unit (PIU) is the best starting point for any member with questions regarding their individual situation. Our PIU can be reached by calling (617) 727-2310.

 Finally, feedback may also be provided by emailing GIC.Info@mass.gov. We look forward to your participation. Best wishes for a Happy and Healthy 2019!

 

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