AG Healey Addresses Economic Security, Health Care and Energy Costs at Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce
BOSTON – In a keynote address at the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce today, Attorney General Maura Healey highlighted her office’s efforts to help stem rising health care and energy costs that hamper business growth, and reiterated her commitment to helping individuals and families become more economically secure.
“I believe that we need the Attorney General’s Office and the business community to work together to address the challenges that we face,” AG Healey said, speaking at the chamber’s “Women in Business and Government Affairs” series. “From opiate abuse to civil rights, college affordability to access to health care – you and all of our residents deserve professional lawyering of the highest quality. As the people’s law firm, we need to be the best. My direction to our team is that we are an office of problem solvers.”
AG Healey noted that her office worked in partnership with the business community on the state’s new Earned Sick Time law passed by voters in November. AG Healey called the law and regulations a “key component” of ensuring economic security for the nearly one million more workers in Massachusetts who previously did not have access to sick time. AG Healey also focused on wage disparities, calling for an update to the state’s pay equity law.
“Pay disparities result from a variety of factors, including life choices, family schedules, and private decisions that we cannot and should not try to solve in a bill,” AG Healey said. “However, I believe that the right legislation can help businesses take proactive steps to examine their own hiring and the ways they set compensation. The right amendments can update our 70-year-old law to make it work better for a modern workforce.”
Responding to concerns about rising health care costs, AG Healey also spoke about her office’s commitment to working to get costs under control.
The office’s most recent cost trends report, released in September, showed that price disparities continue, making quality health care harder for many families and businesses to access.
“I don’t need to explain to you the negatives consequences these cost trends have for families and businesses,” AG Healey said. “So we have some hard questions to ask ourselves.”
AG Healey also addressed increasing energy costs and the effect on businesses and consumers alike. The office recently saved ratepayers $30 million by successfully challenging the rate of return given to transmission companies by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The office is also focusing on diversification as more than half of the energy generated in New England comes from natural gas, leaving Massachusetts exposed to price volatility.
“As your official ratepayer advocate, I believe we need to figure out the right mix of all generation sources, including renewables and natural gas,” AG Healey said. A report, sponsored by the AG’s Office and the Barr Foundation, examining the region’s gas capacity and needs is expected to be released at the end of the month.
“We have a big agenda,” AG Healey said. “I am here to ask for your help and cooperation. I am deeply committed to our partnership. I have seen it work and I am excited by what’s coming next.”