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General Laws

Section 21. (a) Any political subdivision electing to change health insurance benefits under sections 22 or 23 shall do so in the following manner: in a county, except Worcester county, by a vote of the county commissioners; in a city having Plan D or a Plan E charter, by majority vote of the city council and approval by the manager; in any other city, by majority vote of the city council and approval by the mayor; in a town, by vote of the board of selectmen; in a regional school district, by vote of the regional district school committee; and in all other districts, by vote of the registered voters of the district at a district meeting or by vote of the district’s governing board. This section shall be binding on any political subdivision that implements changes to health insurance benefits pursuant to section 22 or 23.

(b) Prior to implementing any changes authorized under sections 22 or 23, the appropriate public authority shall evaluate its health insurance coverage and determine the savings that may be realized after the first 12 months of implementation of plan design changes or upon transfer of its subscribers to the commission. The appropriate public authority shall then notify its insurance advisory committee, or such committee’s regional or district equivalent, of the estimated savings and provide any reports or other documentation with respect to the determination of estimated savings as requested by the insurance advisory committee. After discussion with the insurance advisory committee as to the estimated savings, the appropriate public authority shall give notice to each of its collective bargaining units to which the authority provides health insurance benefits and a retiree representative, hereafter called the public employee committee, of its intention to enter into negotiations to implement changes to health insurance benefits provided by the appropriate public authority. The retiree representative shall be designated by the Retired State, County and Municipal Employees Association. A political subdivision which has previously established a public employee committee under section 19 may implement changes to its health insurance benefits pursuant to this section and sections 22 and 23.

Notice to the collective bargaining units and retirees shall be provided in the same manner as prescribed in section 19. The notice shall detail the proposed changes, the appropriate public authority’s analysis and estimate of its anticipated savings from such changes and a proposal to mitigate, moderate or cap the impact of these changes for subscribers, including retirees, low-income subscribers and subscribers with high out-of-pocket health care costs, who would otherwise be disproportionately affected.

(c) The appropriate public authority and the public employee committee shall have not more than 30 days from the point at which the public employee committee receives the notice as provided in subsection (b) to negotiate all aspects of the proposal. An agreement with the appropriate public authority shall be approved by a majority vote of the public employee committee; provided, however, that the retiree representative shall have a 10 per cent vote. If after 30 days the appropriate public authority and public employee committee are unable to enter into a written agreement to implement changes under section 22 or 23, the matter shall be submitted to a municipal health insurance review panel. The panel shall be comprised of 3 members, 1 of whom shall be appointed by the public employee committee, 1 of whom shall be appointed by the public authority and 1 of whom shall be selected through the secretary of administration and finance who shall forward to the appropriate public authority and the public employee committee a list of 3 impartial potential members, each of whom shall have professional experience in dispute mediation and municipal finance or municipal health benefits, from which the appropriate public authority and the public employee committee may jointly select the third member; provided, however, that if the appropriate public authority and the public employee committee cannot agree within 3 business days upon which person to select as the third member of the panel, the secretary of administration and finance shall select the final member of the panel. Any fee or compensation provided to a member for service on the panel shall be shared equally between the public employee committee and the appropriate public authority.

(d) The municipal health insurance review panel shall approve the appropriate public authority’s immediate implementation of the proposed changes under section 22; provided, however, that any increases to plan design features have been made in accordance with the provisions of section 22. The municipal health insurance review panel shall approve the appropriate public authority’s immediate implementation of the proposed changes under section 23; provided, that the panel confirms that the anticipated savings under those changes would be at least 5 per cent greater than the maximum possible savings under section 22. If the panel does not approve implementation of changes made pursuant to section 22 or section 23, the public authority may submit a new proposal to the public employee committee for consideration and confirmation under this section.

(e) Within 10 days of receiving any proposed changes under sections 22 or 23, the municipal health insurance review panel shall: (i) confirm the appropriate public authority’s estimated monetary savings due to the proposed changes under section 22 or 23 and ensure that the savings is substantiated by documentation provided by the appropriate public authority; provided, however, that if the panel determines the savings estimate to be unsubstantiated, the panel may require the public authority to submit a new estimate or provide additional information to substantiate the estimate; (ii) review the proposal submitted by the appropriate public authority to mitigate, moderate or cap the impact of these changes for subscribers, including retirees, low-income subscribers and subscribers with high out-of-pocket health care costs, who would otherwise be disproportionately affected; and (iii) concur with the appropriate public authority that the proposal is sufficient to mitigate, moderate or cap the impact of these changes for subscribers, including retirees, low-income subscribers and subscribers with high out-of-pocket health care costs, who would otherwise be disproportionately affected or revise the proposal pursuant to subsection (f).

(f) The municipal health insurance review panel may determine the proposal to be insufficient and may require additional savings to be shared with subscribers, particularly those who would be disproportionately affected by changes made pursuant to sections 22 or 23, including retirees, low-income subscribers and subscribers with high out-of-pocket costs. In evaluating the distribution of savings to retirees, the panel may consider any discrepancy between the percentage contributed by retirees, surviving spouses and their dependents to plans offered by the public authority as compared to other subscribers. In reaching a decision on the proposal under this subsection, the municipal health insurance review panel may consider an alternative proposal, with supporting documentation, from the public employee committee to mitigate, moderate or cap the impact of these changes for subscribers. The panel may require the appropriate public authority to distribute additional savings to subscribers in the form of health reimbursement arrangements, wellness programs, health care trust funds for emergency medical care or inpatient hospital care, out-of-pocket caps, Medicare Part B reimbursements or reimbursements for other qualified medical expenses; provided, however that in no case shall the municipal health insurance review panel designate more than 25 per cent of the estimated savings to subscribers. The municipal health insurance review panel shall not require a municipality to implement a proposal to mitigate, moderate or cap the impact of changes authorized under section 22 or 23 which has a total multi-year cost that exceeds 25 per cent of the estimated savings. All obligations on behalf of the appropriate public authority related to the proposal shall expire after the initial amount of estimated savings designated by the panel to be distributed to employees and retirees has been expended. The panel shall not impose any change to contribution ratios.

(g) The decision of the municipal health insurance review panel shall be binding upon all parties.

(h) The secretary of administration and finance shall promulgate regulations establishing administrative procedures for the negotiations with the public employee committee and the municipal health insurance review panel, and issue guidelines to be utilized by the appropriate public authority and the municipal health insurance review panel in evaluating which subscribers are disproportionately affected, subscriber income and subscriber out-of-pocket costs associated with health insurance benefits.

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