To help communities across the Commonwealth with soaring health care costs, in July 2011 Governor Deval Patrick signed legislation that expedited entry for municipalities into the GIC. The Municipal Health Reform legislation, Chapter 69 of the Acts of 2011, allows municipalities to make plan design changes locally or to transfer their employees and retirees into the GIC for coverage after a 30-day negotiation period with unions and a retiree representative.
To meet the challenge of integrating a new municipal statute, the GIC passed emergency regulations in the summer of 2011, with final regulations adopted at the end of October. These regulations laid out the procedural and operational steps for municipalities to join the GIC. Staff also worked closely with Administration and Finance on their regulations that outline details of the negotiation process. During the year, the GIC developed comprehensive questions and answers comparing and contrasting the two laws under which municipalities can enter the GIC. This web resource was promoted through the Department of Revenue/Division of Local Services City & Town publication that is sent to municipal officials.
As required by the law, the GIC requested bids for a consultant for actuarial services for municipal health insurance review panels. The GIC selected Segal Company, which has extensive experience in pension, OPEB, and health insurance analysis, for a two-and-a-half year contract, with two one-year options to renew.
The law allowed expedited municipality entry dates into the GIC of January 1, 2012, April 1, 2012, and July 1, 2012. This timeline posed operational, communications, and systems challenges for the GIC and the municipalities. To help expedite these truncated enrollment periods, the GIC developed and implemented a new web application that enabled municipalities to send their enrollee data to the GIC in a secure and consistent format. We held a series of procedural, benefit, and billing training meetings with the new municipalities to make sure there was a smooth transition. Regional and local health fairs were also held to help the municipal employees and retirees select and enroll in a health plan.
These efforts were a success and the following municipalities joined the GIC in the fall, representing more than 7,200 new employees and retirees:
City of Medford
City of Somerville
Town of Arlington
Town of Lynnfield
Town of Wakefield
Nine municipalities, representing over 10,300 employees and retirees enrolled for July 1, 2012 coverage:
- City of Lowell
- City of Salem
- Town of Bedford
- Town of Holden
- Town of Lexington
- Town of Marblehead
- Town of Monson
- Town of Sudbury
- Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational School District
This information provided by the Group Insurance Commission.