From the Media

Insurers, flexibility, and savings

By Steven Syre
Globe Columnist  
March 30, 2012

The most interesting social experiments start with one basic question: What does it take to make people change the way they do something important?

Health insurance companies doing business in Massachusetts are wrestling with that question right now. They are rolling out all kinds of new medical insurance products, trying to figure out what kinds of limits and restrictions people are willing to accept in order to save money on their premiums.

Group: Localities saved $80 million after curbing benefits

Boston Globe
March 20, 2012

A taxpayer group said Monday that Massachusetts cities and towns have saved $80 million on health care since the state enacted a controversial law last year that forced teachers, firefighters, and other municipal employees to give up some of their collective bargaining rights.

The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, a business-funded watchdog that advocated for the law, said in its report that the overhaul was likely to save more than the $100 million annually that had initially been projected by the group.

Municipal Health Care Savings Continue to Climb

MARCH 19, 2012: Massachusetts cities and towns have reached nearly $80 million in first-year savings from municipal health care reform and are on pace to exceed by far the initial estimate of $100 million, according to the most recent data compiled by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

Gov. Cuomo’s Pension Proposal


Across New York State, years of generous and sometimes overly generous benefits have made government pensions unaffordable. Thanks to contract sweeteners and giveaways by Albany politicians, New York City’s pension costs have risen more than fivefold, to $8 billion this year from $1.3 billion in 2002. Other communities are in similarly tough straits.

The elderly should share the burden

By Robert J. Samuelson
Washington Post

One hallmark of the Obama administration’s budget policy has been to exempt the elderly from major cuts, even though spending on the elderly — mainly through Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — represents 40 percent or more of the budget. The main reason is political: The elderly (it’s presumed) would vote against politicians who would cut their benefits. But to justify the policy, politicians and others often portray the elderly as financially vulnerable with scant savings.

Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation says unfunded retiree health care liability is growing for towns and cities

SPRINGFIELD – This city has $761.6 million in unfunded liabilities for municipal retiree health benefits, which works out to more than $12,000 in unfunded liabilities per single-family home.

Holyoke has $300 million in unfunded liabilities, working out to about $18,000 in unfunded liability per single-family home, or about 59 percent of Holyoke’s median household income, according to a study recently released by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

Huge retirement shortfall in cities reported

Group is alarmed by benefit funding

By Travis Andersen
Globe Staff  
January 13, 2012

A Beacon Hill watchdog group has released a report indicating that steep cuts to education and other public services are inevitable in 10 of the state’s most cash-strapped cities to fund the rising cost of health care for their municipal retirees, unless the Legislature makes changes.

The big squeeze

It has been more than three decades since Proposition 2½ became the law of the land here in the commonwealth, but there is no question that the last few years have been the hardest on municipalities. A combination of shrinking revenue on the federal, state, and local levels has met up with a near-record growth in the costs of health care and pension funds. The result is a bleak present and, in all likelihood, a dimmer foreseeable future.

Health agency names 5 ‘Pioneer’ accountable care organizations in Mass.

Boston Globe

December 20, 2011

Massachusetts is set once again to become a testing ground for a major federal effort to overhaul the health care industry.

Five of the 32 hospital systems and physician groups that will become “pioneers” in a program to change how doctors are paid for the care they provide Medicare patients are from eastern Massachusetts. Starting Jan. 1, the federal program will give them a budget to care for their more than 150,000 patients, rather than a payment for each test or treatment.

Fiscal woes at peak for towns

HOLLISTON - The problem

Thanks to a flagging economy, the last two years have been the most financially difficult for Bay State towns and cities in 30 years, according to a report by the business-backed Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation.

Statewide, municipal budgets grew by a combined 1.2 percent in fiscal 2010 and 2011, a new two-year low, the report said. Property taxes increased 3.8 percent statewide last fiscal year, the smallest one-year increase since Proposition 2½ began capping property tax increases in 1982.