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  • Acts
  • 2007
  • Chapter 67 AN ACT TO REDUCE THE RELIANCE ON PROPERTY TAXES THROUGH MUNICIPAL HEALTH CARE.

Whereas, The deferred operation of this act would tend to defeat its purpose, which is to provide forthwith affordable health insurance coverage for cities and towns, therefore it is hereby declared to be an emergency law, necessary for the immediate preservation of the public convenience.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same as follows:

SECTION 1.
To provide for certain unanticipated obligations of the commonwealth, to provide for an alteration of purpose for current appropriations and to meet certain requirements of law, the sum set forth in this section is hereby appropriated from the General Fund unless specifically designated otherwise in this section for the several purposes and subject to the conditions specified in this section, and subject to the laws regulating the disbursement of public funds for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008. This sum shall be in addition to any amounts previously appropriated and made available for the purposes of this item.
1108-5201 For the costs incurred by the group insurance commission associated with providing municipal health insurance coverage pursuant to section 19 of chapter 32B of the General Laws; provided, that the commission may expend revenues in an amount not to exceed $1,000,000 from the revenue received from administrative fees associated with providing municipal health insurance coverage pursuant to section 19 of chapter 32B of the General Laws; and provided further, that notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, for the purpose of accommodating timing discrepancies between the receipt of revenues and related expenditures, the commission may incur expenses and the comptroller may certify for payment the amounts not to exceed the lower of this authorization or the most recent revenue estimate, as reported in the state accounting system.........................................$1,000,000

SECTION 2. Section 19A of chapter 32 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2006 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding the following paragraph:-

A retirement board in the case of a retiree may deduct the per cent contribution of health insurance premiums for all retired members receiving group life insurance, group accidental death and dismemberment insurance, group general or blanket hospital, surgical, medical, dental or other health insurance coverage under chapter 32B from the respective retiree pension check. In the event that the amount of a retiree’s pension check is insufficient to accommodate the entire deduction and upon notice from the retirement board, the employer for whom the retiree last worked and from whom he is retired shall bill the retiree for the employee share of the premiums.

SECTION 3. Paragraph (b) of section 2 of chapter 32A of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by adding the following sentence:- A person employed by a regional council of government established pursuant to section 20 of chapter 34B or a regional planning district or commission established pursuant to chapter 40B, a non-unionized education collaborative as defined by section 4E of chapter 40 or a commonwealth charter school as defined by section 89 of chapter 71 shall be an employee under chapter 32A and subject to the terms and conditions of said chapter 32A including, but not limited to, premium contribution ratios, in the event that the governing body of the regional council of government or the regional planning district or commission votes to accept that status and notifies the commission of the vote.

SECTION 3A. Said chapter 32A is hereby further amended by striking out section 3, as so appearing, and inserting in place thereof the following section:—
Section 3. There shall be established within the executive office of administration and finance, but not under its jurisdiction, a special unpaid commission, to be known as the group insurance commission, consisting of the commissioner of administration and finance, the commissioner of insurance, and 13 members to be appointed by the governor, 1 of whom shall be a retired state employee, 1 of whom shall be a health economist and at least 3 of whom shall be full-time state employees, 1 shall be a member of the Massachusetts Public Employees Council, #93, AFSCME, Massachusetts State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, 1 shall be a member of the Massachusetts State Employees Association, NAGE, and 1 shall be a member of Local 254, S.E.I.U., 1 of whom shall be a management representative appointed from a list of 3 representatives nominated by the Massachusetts Municipal Association and 1 of whom shall be a labor representative appointed from a list of 3 representatives nominated by the president of the teachers’ union with the greatest amount of active and retired members enrolled in commission health plans. In addition, upon the transfer of 45,000 subscribers from municipal governmental units to the group insurance commission pursuant to section 19 of chapter 32B, there shall be an additional management representative appointed by the governor from a list of 3 representatives nominated by the Massachusetts Municipal Association and an additional labor representative appointed by the governor from a list of 3 representatives of municipal public safety employees nominated by the president of the Massachusetts Chapter of the AFL-CIO. Whenever an organization nominates a list of representatives for appointment by the governor under this section, the organization may nominate additional candidates if the governor declines to appoint any of those originally nominated. Not more than 55 per cent of the appointive members of the commission shall be members of the same political party. No member appointed by the governor shall be an insurance agent, broker, employee or officer of an insurance company. Upon the expiration of the term of office of an appointive member, his successor shall be appointed in like manner for a term of 3 years. The commission shall be provided with suitable offices and may, subject to appropriation, incur expenses and appoint an executive director who shall be the executive and administrative head of the commission and who shall not be subject to chapter 31. The commission may authorize the executive director to appoint such employees as may be necessary to administer this chapter. There shall be paid by the commonwealth to each appointive member of the commission the necessary expenses actually incurred in the discharge of his official duties. The commission shall adopt such reasonable rules and regulations as may be necessary for the administration of this chapter and shall make an annual report to the governor and to the general court which shall include any modifications or amendments made to contracts executed under this chapter. The rules and regulations shall be in such form as to enable employees to understand the benefits available from the insur­ance program, including the cost thereof.

NO SECTION 3B.

SECTION 3C.
Said chapter 32A is hereby further amended by inserting after section 3A the following section:—
Section 3B. This chapter shall become effective for a commonwealth charter school by a majority vote of its board of trustees and, for an education collaborative, by a majority vote of its board of directors.

SECTION 3D. Section 2 of said chapter 32B, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out, in line 5, the word “and”.

SECTION 3E. Paragraph (a) of said section 2 of said chapter 32B, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the word “thereof”, in line 5, the following words:- and for the purposes of this chapter if a collective bargaining agreement is in place, as to a commonwealth charter school as defined by section 89 of chapter 71, the board of trustees and; as to an education collaborative, as defined by section 4E of chapter 40, the board of directions.

SECTION 4. Chapter 32B of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking out section 19, as so appearing, and inserting in place thereof the following section:-

Section 19. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the appropriate public authority of a political subdivision which has undertaken to provide health insurance coverage to its subscribers by acceptance of any other section of this chapter may instead elect to provide health insurance coverage to all its subscribers pursuant to this section by entering into contracts with health insurance carriers or by transferring its subscribers to the commission under subsection (e). For the purposes of this section, the term “subscribers” shall mean employees, retirees, surviving spouses and dependents of the political subdivision and may include employees, retirees, surviving spouses and dependents of a district who previously received health insurance benefits through the political subdivision accepting this section. This section shall take effect in a political subdivision upon its acceptance 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.

Acceptance of this section shall not take effect until a written agreement has been reached between the appropriate public authority and the public employee committee, but the written agreement may condition acceptance of this section upon the transferring of subscribers into the commission under subsection (e).
A written agreement to transfer subscribers to the commission under this section shall be the sole means by which the subscribers of a political subdivision may be transferred to commission coverage.

Notwithstanding subsection (c) of section 4B of chapter 4, the acceptance of this section may be revoked in the same manner it was accepted in accordance with all other subsections of section 4B of said chapter 4, subject to the requirements of any written agreements as provided in this section and chapter 150E. The revocation of this section shall not take effect until a written agreement providing for revocation is reached between the appropriate public authority and the employee committee established herein. Nothing in this section shall preclude an appropriate public authority from agreeing to establish a health and welfare trust fund under section 15.

Except as otherwise provided in subsection (e), a contract with a health insurance carrier shall be in conformity with an agreement reached by an appropriate public authority and a public employee committee. The election by the appropriate public authority may be renewed in conformity with any successor agreement reached with a public employee committee. The public employee committee shall include a representative of each collective bargaining unit with which the political subdivision negotiates under chapter 150E and a retiree representative. Either the public employee committee or the appropriate public authority may convene the initial meeting of the committee at any time upon 30 days notice. The retiree representative shall be designated by the Retired State, County and Municipal Employees Association. The retiree representative shall have a 10 per cent vote. The remaining 90 per cent vote shall be divided so that each collective bargaining unit represented on the public employee committee shall have a weighted vote equal to the proportion which the number of employees eligible for health insurance under this chapter employed in the bargaining unit he represents bears to the total number of employees eligible for health insurance in all bargaining units of the political subdivision. An agreement with the appropriate public authority shall be approved by 70 per cent of the weighted votes of the representatives on the public employee committee and shall be binding on all subscribers and their representatives. For the purposes of this section, a health insurance carrier shall include any insurance company organized pursuant to chapter 175, hospital service corporation organized pursuant to chapter 176A, medical service corporation organized pursuant to chapter 176B, health maintenance organization organized pursuant to chapter 176G, preferred provider organization organized pursuant to chapter 176I and, in the case of a political subdivision which is partially or fully self-insured with respect to health insurance coverage, any third party administrator selected by the political subdivision, which may include, but shall not be limited to, a health insurance carrier.
An agreement approved under this section shall be binding on all active and retired employees for whom health insurance coverage is being purchased, shall supersede any conflicting provision of a collective bargaining agreement and shall not be superseded in a statutory impasse proceeding under chapter 150E, but the agreement may include procedures for resolving an impasse in negotiations for a successor agreement. A dispute arising over the interpretation or application of the public employee committee agreement under this section may be submitted to binding arbitration under the labor arbitration provisions of the American Arbitration Association upon request of the public employee committee or the appropriate public authority, except as otherwise provided in subsection (f). A request shall be approved by 70 per cent of the weighted votes of the representatives on the public employee committee as set forth in this section or, where applicable, by a majority vote of the appropriate public authority. A political subdivision which elects to provide health insurance coverage to subscribers under this section shall be deemed in full compliance with this chapter regulating the procurement of health insurance. A political subdivision which elects to provide health insurance coverage under this section pursuant to an agreement approved by a public employee committee, may provide such coverage either as a single political subdivision or, under section 12, through joint purchase with other political subdivisions or, with multiple political subdivisions, through a risk-sharing pool, trust or health insurance carrier or third party administrator, or by making payments to a health and welfare trust fund to provide health insurance coverage under this section either as a single political subdivision or with multiple political subdivisions. The appropriate public authority may contract with a health insurance carrier for direct coverage of subscribers for whom the carrier’s geographic service area provides appropriate access and coverage for other subscribers in accordance with subsection (d).

(b) Nothing in this section shall require, preclude or permit a change in any aspect of health insurance coverage for subscribers authorized by this section except where an agreement to provide for such change is reached by an appropriate public authority and a public employee committee in an agreement entered into or modified after the effective date of this subsection except as otherwise provided in subsection (e). In the absence of a successor agreement approved under this section, the prior agreement of the public employee committee and the appropriate public authority regarding the provision of health insurance shall remain in effect.

(c) Nothing in this section shall relieve a political subdivision from providing health insurance coverage to an employee, retiree, surviving spouse or dependent to whom it has an obligation to provide coverage under any other provision of this chapter.

(d) The agreement reached between an appropriate public authority and the public employee committee shall provide for those subscribers who, by reason of residence or domicile, cannot be appropriately served within the service area of the health insurance carrier included in the agreement, subject to this subsection.
Coverage for subscribers under this subsection shall be pursuant to and in conformity with the agreement required by this section and shall conform to all requirements of this section. The agreement reached between an appropriate public authority and the public employee committee shall provide that a subscriber who for reasons of residency is not eligible for enrollment in any such plan offered by a political subdivision shall be covered under a plan offered under chapter 176I, if any such plan is provided for under the agreement, but a subscriber who lives 10 miles or more from the nearest primary care physician providing care under the plan shall have out-of-pocket payments and medical deductibles limited to the amount that he would have paid had he utilized the network of medical services of the plan offered under chapter 176I. If the agreement reached between the appropriate public authority and the public employee committee provides for only health maintenance organizations or other health insurance carriers that limit enrollment to a particular geographic area, then notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, health maintenance organizations or other health insurance carriers shall provide for the coverage of services provided or arranged for all subscribers who do not reside within the geographic service area by providing the same benefit schedule and premium contribution provided to subscribers residing within the carrier’s geographic service area including, but not limited to, covered services, out-of-pocket payments and medical deductibles for all medical services provided for or arranged under the agreement.

(e) Where an agreement, either executed or modified, reached by an appropriate public authority and the public employee so provides, the appropriate public authority shall notify the commission that it will transfer all subscribers for whom it provides health insurance coverage to the commission. The notice shall be provided to the commission by the appropriate public authority not later than October 1 of each year and the transfer of subscribers to the commission shall take effect on the following July 1. On the effective date of the transfer, the health insurance of all subscribers, including elderly governmental retirees previously governed by section 10B of chapter 32A and retired municipal teachers previously governed by section 12 of chapter 32A, shall be provided through the commission for all purposes and governed under this section. As of the effective date and for the duration of this transfer, subscribers transferred to the commission’s health insurance coverage shall receive group health insurance benefits determined exclusively by the commission and the coverage shall not be subject to collective bargaining, except for contribution ratios which shall be determined by the written agreement.

Subscribers transferred to the commission who are eligible or become eligible for Medicare coverage shall transfer to Medicare coverage, as prescribed by the commission. In the event of transfer to Medicare, the political subdivision shall pay any Medicare part B premium penalty assessed by the federal government on retirees, spouses and dependents as a result of enrollment in Medicare part B at the time of transfer into the Medicare health benefits supplement plan. For each subscriber’s premium and the political subdivision's share of that premium, the subscriber and the political subdivision shall furnish to the commission, in such form and content as the commission shall prescribe, all information the commission deems necessary to maintain subscribers’ and covered dependents’ health insurance coverage. The appropriate public authority of the political subdivision shall perform such administrative functions and process such information as the commission deems necessary to maintain those subscribers’ health insurance coverage including, but not limited to, family and personnel status changes, and shall report all changes monthly to the commission. In the event that a political subdivision transfers subscribers to the commission under this section, subscribers may be withdrawn from commission coverage at either 3 or 6-year intervals from the date of transfer of subscribers to the commission, as determined by the written agreement which shall specify the withdrawal interval and withdrawal procedures. The written agreement may specify the procedures for resolving an impasse in negotiations over whether to withdraw from commission coverage and for determining health insurance coverage and contribution ratios for subscribers for the year following withdrawal from the commission. In the event that binding arbitration is included in the written agreement, the agreement shall provide that the dispute shall be submitted to arbitration and, if no method is provided of arbitration is provided in the agreement, then the dispute shall be administered by the American Arbitration Association under the procedures set forth in its Labor Arbitration Rules.

The decision and notice to withdraw shall be made by October 1 of the year prior to the effective date of withdrawal. All withdrawals shall be effective on July 1 following the political subdivision’s notice to the commission. Except as otherwise provided in the written agreement, withdrawal from commission coverage shall revoke acceptance of this section and any written agreements related to the implementation of this section as of the effective date of withdrawal. In the event that the acceptance of this section is revoked, the appropriate public authority of the political subdivision shall abide by all commission requirements for effectuating such withdrawal, including the notice requirements in this subsection. In the event a political subdivision withdraws from commission coverage under this section, such withdrawal shall be binding on all subscribers, including those subscribers who, prior to the transfer to the commission, received coverage from the commission under sections 10B and 12 of chapter 32A and, after withdrawal from the commission, those subscribers who received coverage from the commission under said sections 10B and 12 of said chapter 32A shall not pay more than 25 per cent of the cost of their health insurance premiums.

In the event of revocation of acceptance of this section, the political subdivision and public employee unions shall return to governance of negotiations of health insurance under chapter 150E and this chapter on the effective date of withdrawal from commission coverage, to negotiate healthcare coverage for subscribers thereafter.

(f) To the extent authorized under chapter 32A, the commission shall provide group coverage of subscribers’ health claims incurred after transfer to the commission. The claim experience of those subscribers shall be maintained by the commission in a single pool and combined with the claim experience of all covered state employees and retirees and their covered dependents, including those subscribers who previously received coverage under sections 10B and 12 of chapter 32A.

Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, a political subdivision that self-insures its group health insurance plan under section 3A and has a deficit in its claims trust fund at the time of transferring its subscribers to the commission and the deficit is attributable to a failure to accrue claims which had been incurred but not paid may capitalize the deficit and amortize the amount over 10 fiscal years in 10 equal amounts, or on a schedule providing for a more rapid amortization. Except as provided otherwise herein, subscribers eligible for health insurance coverage under subsection (e) shall be subject to all of the terms, conditions, schedule of benefits and health insurance carriers as employees and dependents as defined by section 2 and commission regulations. The commission shall determine all matters relating to subscribers’ group health insurance rights, responsibilities, costs and payments, excluding contribution ratios, and obligations, including but not limited to, the manner and method of payment, schedule of benefits, eligibility requirements and choice of health insurance carriers and these matters shall be determined exclusively by the commission and shall not be subject to collective bargaining, the written agreement under subsection (a) or to arbitration under the agreement. The commission may issue rules and regulations consistent with this section and shall provide public notice of any proposed rules and regulations and notice of thereof at the request of interested parties, together with an opportunity to review those rules and regulations and an opportunity to comment on those proposed rules and regulations in writing and at a public hearing, but the commission shall not be subject to chapter 30A.

The commission shall negotiate and purchase health insurance coverage for subscribers transferred under subsection (e) and shall promulgate regulations, policies and procedures for coverage of the transferred subscribers. The schedule of benefits available to transferred subscribers shall be determined by the commission pursuant to chapter 32A. The commission shall offer those subscribers the same choice as to health insurance carriers and benefits as those provided to state employees and retirees. The political subdivision’s contribution to the cost of health insurance coverage for transferred subscribers shall be as determined under this section, and shall not be subject to the provisions on contributions in said chapter 32A. Any change to the premium contribution ratios shall become effective on July 1 of each year, with notice to the commission of such change not later than January 15 of the same year.

A political subdivision that transfers subscribers to the commission shall pay the commission for all costs of its subscribers' coverage, including administrative expenses, and the governmental unit's cost of subscribers' premium. The commission shall determine on a periodic basis the amount of premium which the political subdivision shall pay to the commission. If the political subdivision unit fails to pay all or a portion of these costs according to the timetable determined by the commission, the commission may inform the state treasurer who shall issue a warrant in the manner provided by section 20 of chapter 59 requiring the respective political subdivision to pay into the treasury of the commonwealth as prescribed by the commission the amount of the premium and administrative expenses attributable to the political subdivision. The state treasurer shall recoup any past due costs from the political subdivision’s cherry sheet under section 20A of chapter 58 and transfer that money to the commission. If a governmental unit fails to pay to the commission the costs of coverage for more than 90 days and the cherry sheet provides an inadequate source of payment, the commission may, at its discretion, cancel the coverage of subscribers of the political subdivision. If the cancellation of coverage is for nonpayment, the political subdivision shall provide all subscribers health insurance coverage under plans which are the actuarial equivalent of plans offered by the commission in the preceding year until there is an agreement with the public employee committee providing for replacement coverage.

The commission may charge the political subdivision an administrative fee, which shall not be more than 1 per cent of the cost of total premiums for the political subdivision, to be determined by the commission which shall be considered as part of the cost of coverage for purposes of determining the contributions of the political subdivision and its employees to the cost of health insurance coverage by the commission.

(g) Any agreement reached between the political subdivision and the public employee committee, including an agreement to transfer subscribers to the group insurance commission, shall provide that within the same health insurance coverage plan the percentage contributed by the political subdivision to the premium or cost of health insurance coverage shall be the same for all subscribers covered under this section. These payments shall differ only by the type of coverage elected under the plan, including individual, family, optional Medicare extension or other coverage selections; but the percentage contributed by the political subdivision may vary among the different health insurance coverage plans offered under the agreement reached between the political subdivision and the public employee committee. The agreement reached shall provide that the percentage contributed by the political subdivision to the premium or cost of at least 1 Medicare extension plan available to all eligible subscribers shall be not less than the minimum percentage contributed by the political subdivision to any other health insurance coverage plan offered under the agreement reached. Any political subdivision that accepts this section shall establish by agreement with the public employee committee a contribution by the political subdivision to the premium or cost of health insurance coverage that provides for at east 50 per cent but not more than 99 per cent. Notwithstanding this subsection, where there is an agreement to transfer subscribers to the commission, subscribers whose coverage was governed by section 10B or 12 of chapter 32A before the date that the written agreement is executed, shall not be required to contribute more than 25 per cent of their health insurance premiums, but the written agreement may provide for a premium contribution paid by these subscribers of less than 25 per cent.

(h) If there is a revocation of acceptance or a withdrawal from the commission under this section, all retirees, their spouses and dependents insured or eligible to be insured by the political subdivision, if enrolled in Medicare part A at no cost to the retiree, spouse or dependents, shall be required to be insured by a Medicare extension plan offered by the political subdivision under section 11C or section 16. A retiree shall provide the political subdivision, in such form as the political subdivision shall prescribe, such information as is necessary to transfer to a Medicare extension plan. If a retiree does not submit the information required, he shall no longer be eligible for his existing health insurance coverage. The political subdivision may from time to time request from a retiree, a retiree’s spouse and dependents, proof certified by the federal government of his eligibility or ineligibility for Medicare part A and part B coverage. The political subdivision shall pay the Medicare part B premium penalty assessed by the federal government on those retirees, spouses and dependents as a result of enrollment in Medicare part B at the time of transfer into the Medicare health benefits supplement plan.

(i) In the absence of a public collective bargaining unit, the chief executive officer of a municipality may authorize the transfer of subscribers to the commission.

SECTION 5. Where a public employee committee and governmental entity have in existence an agreement under section 19 of chapter 32A of the General Laws on July 31, 2006, that agreement shall remain in full force and effect and shall thereafter be governed by said chapter 32A. If the agreement provides for the transfer of subscribers to the group insurance commission, the public employee committee and the political subdivision shall amend the agreement, as necessary, to be consistent with state law.

SECTION 6. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the town of Saugus may transfer subscribers to the group insurance commission in accordance with section 19 of chapter 32B of the General Laws on or after the effective date of this act.

Approved July 25, 2007.