Senate health insurance bill

MTA is urging all members to call, e-mail and send postcards they soon will be receiving to their senators and representatives right away to stop a bill that threatens the health care of every municipal employee.

A new health care bill, Senate 2042, contains a provision (Section 7) that would allow cities and towns to unilaterally raise their employees' share of health insurance costs to as high as 50 percent.

S2042 also allows insurance providers to offer policies containing only four of the more than two-dozen mandated medical services currently required by law.

In addition, the bill allows HMOs to sell policies with strict limits on the annual dollar amounts for physician office visits, laboratory and other diagnostic services, and other outpatient services.

"These ill-conceived sections of the bill would strip municipal employees of their basic collective bargaining rights regarding health care coverage and raise the cost of their health care," said MTA President Catherine A. Boudreau. "The bill would essentially take health care costs off the table, leaving local associations with nothing to bargain over except what medical services are to be included."

S2042, entitled "An Act Providing for Health Access, Affordability and Accountability," has been assigned to the Health Care Financing Committee, which is scheduled to hold hearings on June 8.

Boudreau said, "MTA and our union allies will be there in force to let the committee know, in no uncertain terms, that Section 7 and the provisions that remove required medical services and reduce HMO benefits are unfair."

Boudreau urged MTA members to contact their senators and representatives and tell legislators to protect their rights -- not take them away.

PreK-12 and higher education members will be receiving separate mailers. Each will have postcards to send to representatives and senators. While S2042 has an immediate effect on preK-12 members, MTA's higher education members are being urged to help their colleagues fight these unfair provisions.

"PreK-12 today; higher ed tomorrow," said Boudreau.

It is very important that all members immediately send back their cards, she said.

"It is especially urgent that members who live in the districts of members of the Health Care Financing Committee contact their legislators," she added.

Committee members include:

Sen. Richard T. Moore (D-Uxbridge), chair
Sen. Steven A. Tolman (D-Brighton)
Sen. Susan C. Fargo (D-Lincoln)
Sen. Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester)
Sen. Karen Spilka (D-Ashland)
Sen. Scott P. Brown (R-Wrentham)
Rep. Patricia A. Walrath (D-Stow), chair
Rep. James J. Marzilli (D-Arlington)
Rep. Frank M. Hynes (D-Marshfield)
Rep. James H. Fagan (D-Taunton)
Rep. Harriett L. Stanley (D-West Newbury)
Rep. Christopher G. Fallon (D-Malden)
Rep. James B. Leary (D-Worcester)
Rep. Robert K. Coughlin (D-Dedham)
Rep. John W. Scibak (D-South Hadley)
Rep. Robert S. Hargraves (R-Groton)
Rep. Susan W. Gifford (R-Wareham)