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Melrose mayor backs state insurance push

Posted by Matt Byrne  April 15, 2011 10:04 AM

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Mayor Robert J. Dolan was among 13 mayors to sign on support to a state House of Representatives budget proposal that would empower municipal leaders to determine unilaterally key provisions of employee health care plans, according to a statement by the group.

 “This provision offers municipal leaders a tool to mitigate rising health care costs. It comes as welcome news for cities and towns that have been asking for a way to relieve the strain on local budgets,” said Revere Mayor Thomas Ambrosino in the statement.

The support was announced by the decade-old Metro Mayors Coalition, a regional effort run by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council comprised of 13 mayors from cities around and including Boston.

Melrose city employees are already insured by the state's Group Insurance Commission, and have settled rates for the next three years, according to Dolan, during his recent announcement of a budget proposal.

The state proposal -- released Wednesday by the state House Ways & Means Committee -- outlines identical cuts to local aid and some state programs that Governor Deval Patrick's Jan. 26 budget suggested, in addition to other cuts.

But the House as a whole must first pass its version before the Senate can formulate its corresponding legislation. The versions would then be combined and put before Patrick, who has power to veto sections or line items.

While the governor has insisted that whatever changes are enacted labor must be at the table, the plan would allow officials whose communities join the Group Insurance Commission to plan more easily.

At present, procedures to enter are intricate and sometimes lengthy, requiring unions to come to a majority decision to join.

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