City Attempting to Control Health Insurance Costs

-By Phil Orlandella

Meredith Weenick of the City of Boston Health Insurance Agency was the guest speaker at NEWRA’s monthly meeting held in the Nazzaro Center last week.

Meredith spoke on controlling dramatically escalating health insurance costs for city employees and retirees which is one of the most urgent budgetary issues facing municipalities across the state.

Weenick noted that the City of Boston will spend nearly $300 million, or 13 percent of its budget, on health insurance in Fiscal Year 2011.

She told attendees that the mayor has filed a home rule petition with the City Council that would allow health insurance decisions to be made at the local level with all parties serving on a board.

This proposal would give organized labor a seat at the table without giving the unions veto power.

The mayor has also filed a statewide version of his local GIC Bill that would allow all municipalities to create their own Group Insurance Commission or choose to join the state’s plan.

The city has made a specific proposal to its unions to change co-pays and deductibles so that employees share a greater percentage of the city’s healthcare costs.

The city, because of all the struggles and challenges of sharply increase insurance costs, is prepared to participate in a referendum campaign to put the issues on the ballot.