Looking forward to 2020


Hi everyone. I’m Shawn Duhamel from
the Mass Retirees Association. Thanks for tuning in once again! Today is December
20th. We’re five days out from Christmas. This is going to be the last update of the
year. We’ll come back to you again on Friday, January 2nd. And before I get into
the meat of things today, I just want to say thank you to all of you for tuning
in. We have been doing these videos since all the way back in March. We started out
on Facebook. We expanded to YouTube and emailing these out to our membership
every week. We never expected that they would become as popular as they
have, so thank you for that. We’re certainly going to keep doing this
heading into 2020 and beyond. We’re also looking for new ways that we can
communicate with you and get information to you and just make this more
interactive, more exciting for all of us. So thank you once again and thank you
for our members for your loyalty, for sticking with us and remaining as a
member. That’s what keeps the lights on here for the last 51 years. So it’s a
labor of love for all of us here in the office. I just want to say Merry
Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year to all of you! And we’re ending 2019 on a
high note. we feel very optimistic about things and it’s not just me. I’m an
optimistic person. By Nature my glass is almost always half-full every day. It’s
just the way I’m wired, which is a good thing. Regardless of that, we’re
ending 2019 on a high note. The insurance marketplace in Massachusetts and around
the country despite the challenges that we have remain stable. Just yesterday, Bill Rehrey and myself were present at the Group Insurance Commission monthly
meeting. They announced the process and the planning and the schedule of what’s
going to come for the next few months. We’re not anticipating any massive
changes or really any big changes at the GIC for the coming year. That doesn’t
mean that we can just sit back and assume that everything’s gonna remain
the same because that’s never going to be the case and you can never let down
your guard when you’re advocating on these issues just too important. But, that
being said, we don’t anticipate any big changes. Now the range of increase in the total cost of the plans and this is going to
vary depending on which insurance plan you happen to choose from and thankfully
there are several different plans several different insurance carriers
that the GIC offers so this isn’t a one-size-fits-all it’s gonna be what
works best for you and your family but heading into FY 21 which starts on July
1st of next year the average cost across the plans at this point in time and
there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done but it’s gonna range from
somewhere between four to seven percent on average and seven percent we think
right now will be at the absolute top level and no one anticipates is going to
get the seven percent. That’s really the worst case scenario I guess is what I’m
trying to say. It’s probably going to be more in the four or five percent range
now in the private sector in Massachusetts the range is anywhere from
five to seven percent so we think and this is typically the case the Group
Insurance Commission as well as Blue Cross Blue Shield at local level I’ve
done a very very good job of beating the private marketplace and not only in
terms of price but offering fantastic quality plans and we want to make sure
that that remains to be seen it remains the case now the big challenge of course
at the state level and and in an increasing number of cities and towns is
the fact that our members the retirees are paying more and more and more money
out of your own pockets higher co-payments having deductibles for the
first time these are troubling things because it really affects the ability of
our members who don’t forget and you know this better than I do because
you’re living it every day you’re living on fixed incomes and that means that the
longer you’ve been retired the harder it is to keep up now speaking of that issue
and we’ve said this again and again we are working very closely with the GIC
specifically on the issue of the non Medicare eligible retirees who are over
the age of 65 to make sure that affordability issues and concerns for
this group of retirees that number in the tens of thousands that those
concerns are addressed and the GIC at their
two meetings yesterday being one of them has specifically talked about the non
Medicare retirees and the work that’s going on behind the scenes to find a way
to get control over those costs and hopefully lower those out-of-pocket
costs for our members now Frank Valeri and Bill and myself are going to be
sitting down with GIC officials early in January for an update on where things
are at and we’ll be reporting to you immediately the other big news that came
out of the GIC and again we’ve been reporting on this as well is that the
Commission wants to find a way to increase that basic life insurance
benefit from the current $5,000 up to ten thousand now earlier this week Frank
and I met with Aaron Mike Ovitz chairman mica wits is the chairman of the House
Ways and Means Committee here in Massachusetts he’s a state
representative from the north end here in Boston and Aaron is one of these
people that the best way to describe him is that he gets it he understands you
know every day when he’s walking down Hanover Street in the north end he’s
running into retirees who you know are talking to him about these things and
it’s just the way that he is the way he was brought up that he gets it and we
had a very productive meeting and that doesn’t mean that he can be all things
to all people and there are no rubber checks we get it or blank checks we
don’t want a rubber check we don’t want a blank
when you want a blank check we don’t want a rubber check but there are no
blank checks and we understand that but we’re gonna be working closely with the
legislative leadership and Aaron Michael it’s on the house side and Mike Rodricks
on the Senate side to find a way to address these issues whether it be
health and life insurance the veterans bonus option B and C recalculation
working on our our new cola strategy going forward for the cola enhancement
we’ll be reporting on that more in January that’s something that continues
to evolve behind the scenes and we’re getting close to being able to put pen
to paper and let all of our members know what a new Cola benefit is going to look
like so there’s a lot to be optimistic about and hopefully by all of us working
together we can find a way to improve benefits
rather than just defend what we already have that’s really the goal we want to
be able to make things better for P well and not just hold on for dear life
to what we already have now at the national level I’m also really
optimistic and my optimism is optimism is shared by people like Tim Lee down in
Texas and our friends in Ohio and our friends in California that we believe we
are getting closer very close indeed to the time when we’re going to be able to
pass a reform of the windfall elimination provision which is
devastating from a financial standpoint to nearly two million public retirees
around the country including 73,000 Massachusetts residents there’s a lot of
people that’s a lot of voters and we are going to continue working very closely
with congressman Neal and our congressional delegation going into 2020
and throughout this coming year to pass HR HR 45 40 don’t forget the
congressional session runs all the way through 2020 and into the first week of
January when the new Congress will come in so we have time and we want to get
this done sooner rather than later we already have plans to be in Washington
DC later in January and we’re very optimistic that progress is going to
continue momentum is going to continue to build and we’re heading down the
right path but it’s because of the work that our members have done on this issue
you’ve made the calls you have made sent the emails and the snail mail to your
local congressman asking for them to support HR 45:40 and more importantly
asking them to make this issue a priority to get this done to do
something to get this done on your behalf so we are optimistic and we have
a lot to look forward to heading into 2020. But again, thank you so much for
your support! On behalf of our entire staff here and all of our executive
board members, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas,
Happy Holidays and a very happy and healthy New Year to come. Thank you so
much!

Leave a Reply