September 2007

September Legislative Update

SEPT 2007 - As reported in the July edition of the Voice, the Joint Committee on Public Service held public hearings through the month of July that included several bills of high importance to Association members. Public hearings are viewed as the first crucial step in the legislative process.

Pension Funds At Work

SEPT 2007 - This July, the Commonwealth’s pension investment board, PRIM, funded $50 million to the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (HIT) as part of the Economically Targeted Investment (ETI) program. The HIT is headquartered in Washington DC. The firm has managed assets for US tax-exempt clients since 1984 and currently has 393 institutional investors, many of which are public pension funds.

Retiree Dental Plan

SEPT 2007 - At a recent Group Insurance Commission (GIC) meeting, Director Dolores Mitchell hailed the Retiree Dental Plan as a “real success story.” We couldn’t agree with her more.

Coalition Bargaining New Bedford

SEPT 2007 - Having grown accustomed to carrying their Blue Cross card with them for some 50 years, New Bedford retirees have been somewhat uneasy over the city’s decision to switch to Harvard Pilgrim on September 1. Harvard Pilgrim has been conducting workshops there to explain its plans to retirees and their families.

Coalition Bargaining Brookline

SEPT 2007 - After months of intense negotiations, Brookline retirees and union representatives have reached an agreement with town officials to adopt the coalition bargaining lawn (Section 19, Chapter 32B). “This couldn’t have been achieved without a lot of hard work by many individuals,” according to Jim “Chet” Riley, retired firefighter and elected retirement board member. “Among those who deserve special recognition is Phil Katz who was the lead spokesman for the unions and retirees while he was the teachers’ local president.

Worcester Insurance Battle Rages

SEPT 2007 - In a highly controversial move, the City of Worcester has voted to require all Medicare eligible retirees to enroll in Medicare Parts A & B, a move that will raise out-of-pocket expenses for some retirees by $745 a year.

Disability Reviews Prove Burdensome

SEPT 2007 - For the past eleven years, the nearly 15,000 retirees receiving disability pensions have been required by law to periodically prove to the state that they remain disabled and unable to perform the essential duties of the job from which they retired.

Good News From Dracut

SEPT 2007 - Over two years ago, Dracut joined the list of towns that adopted the coalition bargaining law (Section 19, Chapter 32B). As of now, the news from there is good for the town retirees and their health insurance.

State PreFunds Retiree Healthcare

SEPT 2007 - With little fanfare, the state has begun the monumental task of pre-funding future retiree healthcare costs. This action was taken in response to the mandate, imposed on it by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board or GASB, to include, in its financial reports, the unfunded liability associated with future retiree healthcare costs.

Tenny Elected President

SEPT 2007 - Over five hundred retirement board delegates and staff of the Commonwealth’s 106 retirement systems assembled at the Sheraton Hyannis this June for the annual conference of the Massachusetts Association of Contributory Retirement Systems (MACRS).