Mayor Thomas M. Menino reached an agreement today with all of Boston's public employee unions to curb health insurance costs for the city by as much as $1.5 million a month.
The deal will save the city $70 million over four years, according to the mayor's office. It was described as a transition agreement with three key elements:
1. A 2.5% increase in the employee premium contribution, which will be phased in over a 2-year period. This increase will apply to all active employees as well as to retirees who are enrolled in a non-Medicare health plan.
2. Plan design changes which will include: increasing pharmaceutical, office visit and emergency room co-payments. The plan design changes also create a tiered office visit co-payment based upon whether the enrollee is utilizing the services of a primary care physician or a specialist.
3. A 1% increase in the retiree contribution to Medicare health plans that will go into effect at the end of the 4-year period.
But the deal still must be approved by union members and would require action by both the City Council, the state Legislature, and Governor Deval Patrick.
"As health care costs continue to rise and crowd out resources for other municipal services, this agreement will help provide the tools we need to keep teachers in classrooms, police on the streets and our neighborhoods vibrant,” Menino said in a statement. “I thank the union leaders for their collaboration as we work to create a more equitable employee health benefit plan that is more in line with what other residents receive.”
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.