News and Updates

 January 17, 2015The Weymouth Retired Teacher Organization eagerly joins the Weymouth community in wishing Teacher Vincent DiSessa a joyous 90th birthday.  Many of us knew Vin as a very respected colleague, teaching mechanical drawing at Weymouth North and Weymouth High School. A step into Vin’s classroom showed the reasons for his success: a bright smile, a warm greeting and handshake, a professional, working, engaged student-oriented classroom. Vin enjoyed and inspired his students. Vin was no pushover. He demanded solid work from his kids, but always with warmth and support. His classroom was all business.
Vin treated his colleagues with those qualities that he treated his students. Vin was the consummate gentleman! Mild-mannered. Never a bad word for anyone! Always upbeat, a bright smile and a positive comment. He could make what might have been a frustrating day into a bright one with his optimistic demeanor. Colleagues left faculty lunch or the study hall (working with Vin) with a smile. His positive attitude rubbed off on his colleagues.
While most of Vin’s colleagues retired for other pursuits, Vin “retired,” but only to keep on teaching……he is nearing a 2nd “retirement” in terms of years working, but we suspect that Vin has not yet considered the rocking chair. Today’s students still speak glowingly about Mr. DiSessa…..they still appreciate his personal genuineness, his love for learning, and his warmth and concern for them as people! He may be the substitute, but he’s a pinch hitter batting with a Hall of Fame average.
Congratulations and thank you, Mr. DiSessa! May your 90 candles continue to grow and light the minds of Weymouth youth.
Happy Birthday!
Weymouth Retired Teacher Organization

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 October 9, 2014
The Town of Weymouth and the PEC (Public Employees Committee representing all active employees and retirees) did not come to a successor agreement on our health insurance by the October 1st deadline. Therefore, under section 19 of Chapter 32B of Massachusetts General Laws, the current PEC agreement has been extended providing our current GIC coverages. The percentages paid by Retirees and the Town of Weymouth remain at the present rate.

Weymouth Retired Teachers Organization
Executive Board

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September 2014

Hello Retirees,

We have been waiting to update you on our health insurance contract but do not have news to report at this time. Our contract with the GIC ends June 30, 2015, but the Town must inform the GIC of the Town’s intentions to remain with or withdraw from the GIC by October 1, 2014.

The PEC (Public Employees Committee) comprised of representatives of the Town’s unions including our retiree representative Jim Moore negotiates with the Town for our health insurance and is adamant in its support of retirees.

Other news:

H59 –A bill the WRTO was actively supporting that would have frozen the % of contribution of retirees and assured full spousal benefits was sent for further study, bottom line –it failed.

H69—A bill that protected the extension of percentage increases in retiree health insurance for 2 years did pass but does not apply to our agreement but only to communities covered by H69.

MTA Retired Representative Steve Day (who has been most helpful to Weymouth retired teachers) is looking for help in calling MTA members from a phone bank at the Braintree MTA office. You would be calling MTA members, asking them to vote and support MTA endorsed candidates and ballot questions. The session would be held in the early evening, last 2-3 hours, MTA would provide instruction, pizza, etc.
The mood is upbeat, you would be working with other Weymouth retirees….it is a rewarding and productive experience…….we have done this in past elections.

It is tempting to say that the elections don’t matter, your favorite candidate lost in the primary, etc. However, public education needs candidates who support public education and we, retirees need support. MTA endorsed candidates and identified ballot questions do make a difference!
If you are at all interested, please contact Ed Meehan, 781-337-3977 glacier999@comcast.net

We continue to monitor our health insurance negotiations and will keep you informed.

Weymouth Retired Teachers Organization

Executive Board.

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Weymouth Retired Teachers’ Update            

February 2014                     

Hello Weymouth Retired Teachers,

This is an update on House Bill 59, the governor’s sponsored health care reform for public employees.

Ed Meehan spoke to Ann Johnson Landry, Legislative aide to Sen. Brownsberger, Co-Chair of Governmetal Services Committee which is studying the bill.  (This is the aide that a group of Weymouth WEYMOUTH RETIRED TEACHER ORGANIZATION The Weymouth Retired Teacher Organization eagerly joins the Weymouth community in wishing Teacher Vincent DiSessa a joyous 90th birthday. Many of us knew Vin as a very respected colleague, teaching mechanical drawing at Weymouth North and Weymouth High School. A step into Vin’s classroom showed the reasons for his success: a bright smile, a warm greeting and handshake, a professional, working, engaged student-oriented classroom. Vin enjoyed and inspired his students. Vin was no pushover. He demanded solid work from his kids, but always with warmth and support. His classroom was all business. Vin treated his colleagues with those qualities that he treated his students. Vin was the consummate gentleman! Mild-mannered. Never a bad word for anyone! Always upbeat, a bright smile and a positive comment. He could make what might have been a frustrating day into a bright one with his optimistic demeanor. Colleagues left faculty lunch or the study hall (working with Vin) with a smile. His positive attitude rubbed off on his colleagues. While most of Vin’s colleagues retired for other pursuits, Vin “retired,” but only to keep on teaching……he is nearing a 2nd “retirement” in terms of years working, but we suspect that Vin has not yet considered the rocking chair. Today’s students still speak glowingly about Mr. DiSessa…..they still appreciate his personal genuineness, his love for learning, and his warmth and concern for them as people! He may be the substitute, but he’s a pinch hitter batting with a Hall of Fame average. Congratulations and thank you, Mr. DiSessa! May your 90 candles continue to grow and light the minds of Weymouth youth. Happy Birthday! Weymouth Retired Teacher Organization spoke with on their visit to Beacon Hill for the first hearing in October.)

She indicated to Ed that the Committee has taken no position on Bill 59 yet.  Informally, they are discussing making the Bill fair to all parties.  The Bill must be taken up for a vote by the Committee by March 20.  However, this vote does not have to be a simple yes, no.  It could be amended, referred to another Committee, etc.  She said that she was not aware whether leadership has taken a position on the Bill.

Refer to our mailing on the bill in October 2013. These are the highlights that stress the importance of this bill for us.

“The BILL is very POSITIVE for current retirees…

-It permanently freezes our present percentage of Premium paid (now 80%-87.5% in Weymouth), additionally

-it protects spousal health insurance coverage of deceased public employees over 60 towns in Mass. do not offer this protection.

The bill projects to reduce the unfunded liability of public employee health insurance in Massachusetts from the current approx. $40 Billion to approx. $20 Billion….this is a major reason for the Bill. Our concern is that the freeze of rate percentages for current retirees will be stripped from the Bill.  The filed Bill recognizes a responsibility to protect public employees (US) who have already retired by freezing our premium percentages. THIS CANNOT BE CHANGED !!  Retirees are on fixed incomes and planned their retirement based upon these rates…….FAIRNESS dictates that these percentages be honored.

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THIS BILL IS IMPORTANT !!  IF PASSED, IT CAN / WILL FREEZE OUR CURRENT HEALTH INSURANCE PERCENTAGE RATES ……”

We are monitoring this bill and may be asking our members to attend hearings, write letters/emails to legislators or call their legislators.  We will keep you posted.

WRTO Executive Board

Attention Weymouth Retirees,

As we pointed out in a recent e-mailing, House Bill 59 comes up for its 1st hearing Oct 31….this bill, as filed by the Governor reforms public sector retiree health insurance, but protects those already retired.  We again ask that you contact your local Rep/Senator….and/or the Chairs of the Public Service Committee (conducting the Oct.31 hearing) …please do not use these letters, verbatum, put it into your own words.  But this is another are a couple examples of letters you might  send asap.
Weymouth RetiredTeachers Executive Board

SAMPLE…..

                                                                                                 October 23, 2013

Dear  Representative Michlewitz,

I am writing to you regarding House 59 …..An Act to Provide Retiree Health Insurance Reform, which your Public Service Committee hears on Oct.31.  I know that you and your Committee will be dealing with a number of possibly conflicting threads, as you hear and possibly modify the Bill.

A major goal of the Bill is to reduce the unfunded state and local liability arising from retiree health insurance.  And I understand the concerns of short-term public sector employees soon to retire, as well.

However, my major concern deals with the approx. 1200 Town of Weymouth retirees, including myself.  We retired from our public service/employment believing that we had earned our retiree health insurance coverage…..and the Bill freezes the percentages we currently pay  and protects spousal coverage in the event of the death of the retiree. This is FAIR !  As you know, our  pensions are basically fixed, the Bill recognizes this….We appreciate and thank the Patrick Commission and the Administration for this protection in the Reform Bill.

We Hope and Trust that as you and  your Committee hear and perhaps modify the Bill that you will preserve the protections in the Bill for those public sector  already retired.  It is the FAIR thing to do.

Sincerely,

Ed Meehan

Executive Board Member,Weymouth Retired Teachers and Weymouth Retired Employees

New Benefit

We want to alert you to the possibility that you may be eligible for a new Unicare Insurance benefit.  If you carry any Unicare Medicare supplement or any Unicare Insurance plan and belong to a fitness club, you may be eligible for a $100/yr/family cash reimbursement. You should call GIC or go to unicarestateplan.com, click on Health Wellness page link and look for Fitness Club reimbursement for information on how to apply.

October 2013                                                                                                                        We are posting this brief update on 2 very important issues/events which impact Weymouth Retired Teachers and Weymouth Retired Employees.

1.  The Town of Weymouth  Human Resources Department has called for a meeting of the PEC ( Public Employment Committee) on Oct. 15, 2013.  This meeting is long over-due and  heralds the beginning of information gathering and negotiations between The Town of Weymouth and its unions and retirees on health insurance for active employees and town retirees. THIS IS OUR HEALTH INSURANCE!!  The present Agreement providing GIC insurance with the town paying 80-87.5% of premiums, expires June 30, 2015…and provides for a new contract to be negotiated by Summer, 2014.
The Retiree Rep on the PEC is retired firefighter, Jim Moore.  He has designated Retired Teacher, Stephanie Darling, as his assistant/alternate.
Town Treasurer, Bill McKinney, has publicly announced that he believes that the Town of Weymouth should not pay more than 50% of premiums….If enacted, this could mean increases in premium share by actives and retirees of up to $7,000 annually for the family plan.
Remember, however, that McKinney’s position is his OPINION.  We trust that the unions and our PEC Rep. have a slightly different OPINION !!!!!  and the contract must be negotiated…an impasse would require arbitration.  This means that the PEC will need our support… stay tuned for any action (letters. e-mails, meetings, etc.) that we call upon you to make in the future to the Mayor, Town council, etc
P.S. This initial Meeting has been held………will keep you posted on progress.

2.  There will be a Legislative Open Hearing held by the Joint Committee on Public Service on Oct. 31 at the Gardner Auditorium, State House, at 11 a.m. on House Bill #59 …Public  Employee Retiree Health Insurance Bill.
     The Bill (filed by the Governor) is very comprehensive and reflects the near unanimous, only the Mass Municipal Assn–(representing cities and towns) voted against the vote of the Patrick Commission, which provided the basis for the bill.  The BILL is very POSITIVE for current retirees…It permanently freezes our present percentage of Premium paid (now 80%-87.5% in Weymouth), additionally it protects spousal health insurance coverage of deceased public employees….over 60 towns in Mass. do not offer this protection.
Opposition to the bill centers around an increase in years served by active employees to receive retirement health insurance from the current 10 years to a graduated 20-30 year requirement for active employees…short-term active employees do not want this changed.   The bill  projects to reduce the unfunded liability of public employee health insurance in Massachusetts from the current approx. $40 Billion to approx. $20 Billion….this is a major reason for the Bil
There is an emerging belief that the Bill will have to be modified to protect those near retirement under the old rules…and  clearly a modification for  future hires.
HOWEVER, modifications reduce savings to the state and cities and towns……..Our concern is that the freeze of rate percentages for current retirees will be stripped from the Bill.  The filed  Bill recognizes a responsibility to protect public employees (US)  who have already retired by freezing our premium percentages….THIS CANNOT BE CHANGED !!  Retirees are on fixed incomes and planned their retirement based upon these rates…….FAIRNESS dictates that these percentages be honored.
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THIS BILL IS IMPORTANT !!  IF PASSED, IT CAN / WILL FREEZE OUR CURRENT HEALTH INSURANCE PERCENTAGE RATES ……Now is the chance for you to protect your insurance rates!!!!
     Politicians DO respond to pressure/information from their constituents!  It is important that many of us get to this State House Hearing on House Bill #59 on Thurs., Oct 31 at 11 am at Gardner Auditorium, State House.

Recognizing that this is not practical for many retirees….we are asking something that YOU can easily do…..AGAIN, THIS IS IMPORTANT…Don’t be bashful….You gave your career for the benefit of others……You are only asking for fairness in a retirement benefit (health insurance) for yourself and your spouse.

Please CONTACT (call or e-mail) your State Rep and Senator and ask THEM to attend the hearing on House Bill #59 and  ASK THEM for support for the BILL.    If you call, ask to speak to the Rep. or Senator….if unavailable, speak to a staff person….You will be greeted very politely…They get few/almost no calls or e-mails on bills.

Below find contacts for Weymouth Reps.  Sen. Hedlund represents virtually the entire South Shore.  Google: Mass legislature for contacts for your own local Rep. if you do not live in Weymouth—you want to contact YOUR local rep.

Senator Robert Hedlund(House Majority Leader)Robert.Hedlund@masenate.gov617-722-1646 Rep. James Murphy(Rep. for part of S. Wey)James.Murphy@mahouse.gov617-722-2460 Rep. Ronald MarianoRonald.Mariano@mahouse.gov617-722-2300

An alternate or additional e-mail to the Co-Chairs of the Joint Committee on Public Service urging them for their support on House Bill #59 would be most helpful !  The principal opponents of the Bill (active Higher Education employees with short (less than 10 years service)…are fighting a high profile guerilla war against  the Bill…promising 5,000 letters/e-mails to the Chairs in opposition to the Bill.  While it is not our job to judge the merits of their arguments, our fear is that protection of that group will endanger the protection in the BILL to already retireds offered by the “freeze” of health insurance premium percentages.  And the main purpose of the Bill is to reduce the unfunded health insurance liability.
In your letter to the Chairs you might cite the fairness issue to already retired public employees……our incomes are virtually frozen…it’s only fair to freeze your health insurance percentages…….Best not to argue against the short-term public employees1

Senate Chair                                                                                                  House Chair

William Brownsberger                                                                                   Aaron Michlewitz
email    William.Brownsberger@masenate.gov                                       Aaron.M.Michlewitz@mahouse.gov

CONTACT TIPS——————–
Be very respectful.
-State your name and that you are a constituent
-State your support for House Bill #59…a bill to save the state and municipalities money, but to protect  already retireds by freezing their health insurances percentages.  Ask for their view on the bill……How they feel about spousal coverage, and protecting the already retired?
-Ask that the Rep/Senator attend the Hearing of House #59….it will help inform them of the importance of the bill
-Indicate that this Bill is very important to you….Can you count on their support of the bill?

-If you need assistance in e-mailing/calling….call Ed Meehan 781-589-7549
Thank the REP. / SEN for their time and support….indicate that you will be contacting them again as House Bill #59 moves forward.

We ask that you make the contact above.  There are approx. 1200 Town of Weymouth retirees.  If just 100 of you made contact with your Rep and Senator, it would have an overwhelming impact on them.

Thank You!!
Weymouth Retired Teacher  and Weymouth Retired Employee  Executive Boards

JUNE 2013

June 20 — REAM Advocacy Day at the State House.  Please join us.  This meeting is important to all teacher retirees as we will be advocating for House Bill 59, this is a bill which could greatly impact our health coverage.  For more information and materials contact:rhamiltonhajo@aol.com

June 15th….  and beyond…. here is the job posting for Civil Service Examination proctors.  The state is looking for individuals who have experience providing instruction in a classroom environment, and all the assignments are on Saturday. The posting indicates that the pay is $120 for about 7  ½ hours,  and the assignments are geographically distributed across the state. Interested people can apply online, and, you can indicate the region you would prefer to be assigned.  Please click here for more details.

Newsletter for Weymouth Retired Teacher Organization  June, 2013

We  try to send an annual letter to Weymouth Retired Teachers to highlight issues (particularly regarding healthcare) which impact YOU.  These are the hot items.

  1. Municipal and State Retiree Health Bill—filed by Gov. Patrick in Feb.  This bill is IMPORTANT !!  It is expected to be brought before the Legislature for hearings in September.  The Bill (House # 59) freezes the percentages of health insurance costs paid by current and soon to be retired at current percentages— Weymouth pays 80-87.5%.  This Bill is huge! ….it protects Retired State and Municipal Employee (THAT”S US)—and it is FAIR. Depending upon its progress, We will be contacting You in the Fall to write/call/e-mail, visit your State Sen. and Rep. for their support of the Bill,  attend hearings on the Bill, etc.  Opposition to the Bill comes from the Mass. Municipal Association(cities and towns) despite reducing  unfunded public employee health insurance  costs by up to $20 Billion.  Public  employees with short service also oppose the Bill –the Bill raises the minimum years service to obtain retiree health benefits from the current 10 years to 20 years for partial  and 30 years for full retiree health insurance coverage. BUT it protects those already retired!! Expect union supported modifications in the bill for active employees.
  1. We Retirees are impacted by our current GIC Municipality Insurance Plan.  This plan expires for us June 30, 2015.  The current Agreement between the PEC (committee representing active unions and retirees in Weymouth) and the Town of Weymouth requires negotiations to begin between the PEC and the Town in early 2014, with a decision to be reached by Sept. 15, 2014……..just over 1 year from now.  This Agreement would determine the carrier (GIC or other…) and the percentages paid by the town and actives and retirees.  Our concern is that despite the diligence of our PEC Rep….retired firefighter Jim Moore, the PEC has  not been active.Hopefully, the PEC will start preparing  to negotiate quality health insurance that is affordable and FAIR for Weymouth employees and retirees.  Meanwhile the Weymouth CFO, Bill McKinney repeatedly rants that the Town is far too generous to its actives and retirees in regard to Health Insurance.  He calls for a reduction of the Town’s share to 50%…..this could cost a retired couple or active family up to approx. $7,000/yr in additional health insurance premiums.  Stay tuned!
  1. Good news!!  GIC Municipality Insurance Plans (that’s us) rates will increase by approx. 3%  July 1—far less than most health insurance!……and a continuation of stable rates over the past several years.  Additionally, GIC Director Delores Mitchell indicated that she foresees no co-pay increases!
  1. Formation of Weymouth Retired Employee Organization—  Over the past several months, retired teachers Stephanie Darling and  Ed Meehan have worked hard with Retired Firefighter and PEC Rep. Jim Moore in founding this organization both to inform all Town of Weymouth Retirees and seek their lobbying support on issues (primarily health insurance) of importance.  For Retired Teachers  this means that we keep our organization, WRTO, website, etc.  But we are also affiliated and a part of the Weymouth Retired Employee Organization…no additional forms to fill out or contribution requests.  Our influence is doubled!!  There are approx. 600 retired Weymouth teachers.  There are approx. 600 non-teacher Retired Town of Weymouth Employees.  We are all in this together.
  1. Beacon Hill Visit—-Several Weymouth Teacher Retirees:   Stephanie Darling , Jack DeCoste, Ed Meehan, Jo-An Hamilton, and Linda Breen, along with Retired Firefighters Jim Moore and Chuck Deacon spent several hours lobbying Reps and Senators for House #59…cited above.  WE spent a busy day visiting Sen. Bob Hedlund (South Shore), Rep. Jim Cantwell (Marshfield. Scituate), and Rep. Rhonda Nyman (Norwell,Rockland, and Hanover).  Additionally we spent time with staff of Senate President  Therese Murray (Plymouth), Rep. and House Majority Leader Ron Mariano (Quincy Point, S. Weymouth) and Rep. James Murphy (Weymouth).  We found all very attentive to our comments, and at varying stages of knowledge about the bill.  We heard no opposition to the bill….most  commented on the necessity to be FAIR to current Retirees and those soon to be retired, along with the need to reduce the insurance unfunded liability to the state and cities and towns.  WE were encouraged by our visit and look forward to more follow-up as Bill #59 is hopefully brought up in the fall.
  1. Website—-We direct your attention to our website     www.weymouthretiredteachers.org   We do try to put newsworthy items on this website.  Additionally we are placing Memoriams on the site                      as received.
  1. We need your e-mail address—-  Please send to  wtaretirees@comcast.net  or put it on the enclosed card along with any changes in address or phone #.  Please send along e-mail address, even if you know we have it !!  We sometimes make mistakes!
  1. Jackie Deane has volunteered to maintain our addresses and e-mail….she also has volunteered to e-mail all retirees  info regarding deaths of retired teachers.  If you should hear of the death of a retired Weymouth teacher, please send along wake and funeral information to Jackie asap towtaretirees@comcast.net  Retired Weymouth teachers can then be e-mailed this information immediately.  A special thank you to Ellie Hanlon who has handled our records and e-mail operation since the inception of WRTO.
  1. Contribution—As in past years we are asking for an annual  contribution of up to $10, if you are financially able………don’t worry if times are tight!  Contributions are used primarily for mailings, meeting expenses, etc….we are being frugal!
  1. Stay tuned for information on House Bill #59………This Bill is URGENT……The future of your Retiree Health Insurance will largely be determined by the Success or Failure by this Bill !!

Weymouth Retired Teacher Organization Executive Board: Jo-an Hamilton, Bill Dempsey, Stephanie Darling, Linda Breen, Larry Lambros, Jack DeCoste, Helen Finn,  Ed Meehan,    Carol Fletcher, Kathy Lavery, Mary Duseau, Alice Mulligan, Elaine DeCosta, and Jackie Deane

Several Colleagues will be joining us in the Retirement Phase… If you would like to attend one of the parties, contact the names included here. 

Gail Berquist    Wednesday June 12th @4:00pm, Abington Ale House.   Tickets are $40  R.S.V.P. by Thursday, May 30th to either Barbara.Mcgovern@weymouthschools.orgMaryann.Doherty@weymouthschools.org  or Joanne.Curran@weymouthschools.org

 Vita Golub  Friday June 14th 6:00- 10:00pm  Neighborhood Club, Quincy, MA.  Tickets with be $40 per person.  Please forward checks to Katie White WHS Kathryn.white@weymouthschools.orgVirginia.disanto@weymouthschools.org Margo.dornisch@weymouthschools.org

Kerry Perkins,  Noreen Winrow, and  Carolyn Kasabian  Friday, June 21st 6:00 P.M.  The Common Market Restaurant 97 Willard Street Quincy, MA 02169  Cost is $60.00.

Please make checks payable to Kathleen Dempsey and return to Peggy Geoldasis at Abigail Adams Campus (89 Middle Street, Weymouth, 02189)

 

April 20, 2013

Dear Weymouth Retired Teachers,

On April 3 members of the Executive Board began their activity in support of the Gov. Patrick filed, Retired Public Employee Health Insurance Reform Act…one which saves money by raising years of service for current Employees to receive retiree health insurance, but which grandfathers current Retirees at their present percentages of retiree /former employee insurance payment.  This is a GOOD bill for us!  It has broad-based support from the Legislature, Administration, retiree and labor groups.  The bill is opposed by Mass Municipal Assoc…representing city and town government…they would have current retirees pay more for their heaalth insurance!
We visited 6 South Shore legislators (Rep. Jim Cantwell-Marshfield),( Rep. Rhonda Nyman  -Norwell, Rockland, Hanover),( Rep James Murphy–met with staff-Weymouth), (Rep Ron Mariano-House Majority Leader–met with staff, he would have met with us later in the day-Quincy Pt. part of S. Weymouth, Holbrook and Quincy), (Sen. Robert Hedlund–Weymouth and South Shore, and Sen. Therese Murray (met with staff member-Plymouth and Cape).

Our visits were very fruitful!  We were asked to educate a couple Reps., were listened to carefully by all, learned more about the legislative process, and came away feeling that the bill has an excellent chance of passage, particularly if supporters of the bill rally support!

We  learned that legislators listen to their constituents!  All reminded us of the importance of having supporters of the bill—THAT’S US–write, phone, e-mail, etc. our support of this bill.

We will be asking and instructing YOU how you can make your voices of support for this bill heard, as the bill makes its way forward.  Your contacting legislators will be critical to its passage…..the stakes are high……To lose the “grandfathered retiree” protections in this bill could cost you as much as $5,000 -$7,000/ yr. at current health insurance rates.

Stay tuned !!!!!

Your Executive Board

The following is an article by the Mass Retirees Organization on H59

RETIREE HEALTHCARE REFORM BILL ON HOLD                                                      Legislative Focus On Taxes & Transportation

APRIL 4, 2013: While concern over potential sweeping changes in retiree healthcare benefits grows amongst active employees, legislative action on Governor Patrick’s H59 now appears to be on a slow track.

Early this year Patrick filed H59, which closely mirrors the report filed by the Special Commission on Retiree Healthcare, which would make significant changes to eligibility standards and healthcare contributions of future retirees. The bill contains a July 1, 2013 implementation date, which led many observes, including our Association, to believe the proposal was on the legislative fast track for passage late this spring or in early summer.

But following the Governor’s filing of a transportation and education plan that would see $1.9 billion a year in new taxes, the focus on Beacon Hill has shifted to more immediate pressing matters. This past week, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray filed a joint House/Senate plan that raises $500 million in new tax revenue to be earmarked strictly for transportation needs.

That legislation is now before the House, where it will be hotly debated next week before moving to the Senate. The House is then expected to take up the FY14 Budget later this month, after releasing its budget draft on April 10.

“As we’ve said over the past few weeks, the focus right now is on the statewide issues of taxes, transportation and education funding. These are complex issues that have a very wide impact on not only our residents, but the overall state economy,” said Association President Ralph White. “Until these issues and the FY14 Budget are settled, the focus is going to remain on this core agenda and rightly so. With the future of the Commonwealth at stake, it is important that the right decisions be made.

“We’re at the beginning of a two-year session, so there is plenty of time to focus on healthcare and other issues of particular importance to public retirees.”

H59 is now before the Joint Committee on Public Service, which is chaired by Senator William Brownsberger and Representative Aaron Michlewitz. The Committee has not yet set its 2013 Public Hearing schedule; however, observers now believe that H59 will likely be heard in the early fall.

Public Service Committee members, like all rank and file legislators, have been inundated with calls, letters and emails from panicked active employees, who fear their health insurance benefits might be in jeopardy under the provisions of H59.

To be clear, all current retirees and survivors are exempt from H59 and will continue to receive full health insurance benefits. Also, most active employees close to retirement age are exempted as well (Click Here For More Information On Exemptions). The bill does change eligibility requirements and creates prorated insurance contributions for those active employees who are not exempt and all new hires.

“There is a valid concern among some active employees, who started in public service later in life and will have less than twenty years of service when and if this bill becomes law. No one should have the rug pulled out from under them and be denied insurance benefits,” explains Legislative Liaison Shawn Duhamel. “I can tell you that we are hearing from Legislators who agree that the reforms must be fair. They are going to take their time with H59 and make sure this reform is done the right way.

“We do encourage active employees to keep a close eye on the bill and continue to use our website as a resource for news. But there is no reason for anyone to panic and hastily retire at this time.”

Posted: Apr 04, 2013Tags:

GIC ANNOUNCES FY14 INSURANCE RATES

Increase Below State & National Averages

MARCH 6, 2013: Once again the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC) has been able to hold the line on insurance premium rate increases, beating both the state and national averages for an average increase of 3.5% across its offering of health plans.

The Commission sets the annual insurance prices for the healthcare plans offered through the state-run GIC. Retirees from 36 municipalities and retired teachers from 62 school districts are now covered under the GIC. Rates for municipal or county retirees, who receive their health insurance coverage locally, are set by the city or town from which a member retires.

While the average increase, across all GIC offered plans is 3.5%, actual rates vary be insurance plan. Some retirees and survivors will see less of an increase over current rates. All rate changes take effect on July 1, 2013, but will be included in the June pension withholdings.

With over 58,000 enrollees, the UniCare State Indemnity Plan Optional Medicare Extension (OME) is the most popular insurance plan with Medicare enrolled retirees. For FY14, the OME plan will increase just 2.1%.

The UniCare State Indemnity Plan Basic is also a highly popular plan with those non-Medicare retirees and active employees who want the freedom of choice found in a more traditional insurance plan. Rates for Indemnity Plan Basic will increase 3.1%.

GIC and UniCare officials cite a moderate uptick in utilization and medical cost trend as the reason for the slight increase in rates for both plans. Medical cost trend refers to overall prices charged by medical providers for services provided patients.

For the 6,411 Retired Municipal Teachers (RMT) enrolled in the OME Plan, rates will increase 8.2%. By law, RMTs are enrolled in a separate insurance pool from state retirees, active employees and those municipalities that have recently enrolled in the GIC. RMT rates for the non-Medicare Indemnity Plan Basic will increase a whopping 11.6%.

“RMTs are at a disadvantage when it comes to the rates in that there are only a fixed number of retirees in Pool 2. With no active employees and younger workers in the pool to help stabilize rates, it tends to run slightly more expensive than Pool 1,” explains the Association’s Shawn Duhamel. “Since insurance rates are almost entirely based on utilization and medical cost trend, having a diverse group of retirees and active employees in Pool 1 has helped to stabilize the rates.”

Full rates and pricing for all plans offered by the GIC will be published in the May edition of the Voice.

Copays & Deductibles Hold Steady

Members will be pleased that there will be no changes in across the board copayments and deductibles for FY14. The GIC is on the record stating that current out-of-pocket-costs (OPC) are inline with other comparable plans and should not be increased at this time.

This means that members can expect to pay the same prescription drug and doctor visit copayments that they’ve had to make since 2010. There is also no increase in the $250 non-Medicare annual deductible ($500 couple or $750 per family).

However, members should pay close attention to copayment rates assigned to individual doctors, hospitals and other medical providers as tiered listings are subject to change.

Some retirees will also be pleased to learn that the GIC has approved a universal health club/gym reimbursement across all of its Medicare and non-Medicare plans. For the first time, those retirees, insured under the OME Plan or Indemnity Plan Basic, will be eligible for up to $100 per year per family in health club dues reimbursement.

In addition, the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) requires that women’s preventative healthcare be offered without out-of-pocket costs.

Again, members should look to the May 2013 edition of the Voice for a detailed report on the GIC’s FY14 Insurance offerings and costs.

 

 

January 18, 2013…………………….. Important Information for your review….

Two major events which will likely impact Retiree Health Insurance over the long term, have taken place over the past month.

  1. In early December the Patrick Commission on Municipal and State Retired  Employee Health Insurance released its report.  Supported by a 11-1 vote (Mass Municipal Association—representing cities and towns was the sole No vote)  the Commission recommended that there be substantial reductions in the health insurance coverage for future retirees—-particularly for shorter term (10-20 year service)employees.  MOST IMPORTANT, however, their recommendation would freeze current retirees at the percentages in effect in each municipality on Jan. 1, 2013.  If passed by the legislature, this would mean that OUR (Town of Weymouth retirees) rates would be frozen at 80-87.5% ….depending on your specific plan….rates, of course, will likely rise as insurance costs increases, but MOST IMPORTANT the percentages would be frozen.

2. On Jan. 16, Gov. Patrick filed legislation to implement the recommendations of                     the Commission.  He heralded the legislation as a means of reducing the long-term             costs of public retiree health insurance in Massachusetts, while at the same time                 recognizing the need to be fair to those already retired and soon to be retired.

Again…this bill protects percentages paid by retired public sector retirees in Massachusetts at the rate in effect Jan. 1, 2013.

NEXT  —- Gov. Patrick’s bill likely faces lengthy debate in the Legislature.  A positive factor is several members of the legislature served on the Commission and voted unanimously FOR the recommendations.  However, the Mass Municipal Assoc. Rep. voted against the bill and a Boston Globe editorial has already weighed in against freezing present retiree percentages….it is a classic “fairness” v. “cost” issue.

YOU will be kept informed about this issue.  And you will likely be asked to contact…..phone, e-mail, write, visit your State Rep and State Senator.  Most state legislators truly want to do the “right thing,” and they do listen to their constituents.

This issue will have a tremendous impact on the future of your retiree health insurance….it is important that we lobby for what is “FAIR.”

October 2012…..Attention Retirees….  The Retired Educators Association of Mass (REAM) is a state organization advocating for us with the goal of maintaining our benefits.  If you are already a member, the Fall newsletter should be out soon.

The Norfolk Chapter of REAM will hold it’s Fall meeting followed by lunch on  October 18, 2012 at the Common Market Restaurant in Quincy.  The speaker is Paul Phillips, former Quincy Teachers’ Association President.  He will talk about health insurance. The cost is $20.  You can contact Stephanie Darling by email stephie.elaine@gmail.com or cell phone. 781-405-5211. Hope to see you there!

 

August 10, 2012  NEWS      

Mass Health Care Law

The Massachusetts Legislature recently enacted legislation, signed by the Governor, which potentially has a huge impact on health care in this state in general and of more particular interest to us—– Retiree health care and health insurance costs.

While there are a number of  aspects to the law, the legislation initially limits health care costs to the increase in output of the state’s economy—now averaging 3.6% per year. This rate of increase in health care costs is roughly half the rate of increase in recent years.

Limits on health care costs should help to rein in insurance cost increases for retirees and parties paying for the insurance….in our case the Town of Weymouth.  Smaller increases in the cost of health insurance hopefully will temper the anti-retiree health insurance fervor coming from some sources.

July 27, 2012  Congratulations to Ron Suga (our MTA consultant for more than 30 years) as he joins us in the retirement phase of life!  On your behalf we will present Ron with a ‘Weymouth’ photo art tonight.

July 19, 2012  Medicare Price Hoax:

          An internet spam-hoax created a good deal of anxiety for many during the past week.  An official looking e-mail with a Blue Cross/Blue Shield emblem stated that Medicare monthly charges currently approx. $100/mth were slated to rise to $247./mth in 2014 as a provision of the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare).
           The scare is totally inaccurate, according to AARP and other fact check organizations.  According to several of these organizations, there may be a slow upward trend in Medicare charges over the next 10 years…absolutely nothing like the $247/mth hoax.  Beware of election year internet SPAM!!  Check the facts.

July 13, 2012

On July 9 Gov. Patrick signed into law legislation providing for a 3% COLA on the first $13,000 of retirement income.  This was a very modest increase.  Previous COLA’s had been based on the 1st $12,000 of retirement stipend.

Additionally, the legislation provides that GIC Municipality Health Insurance Retirees,  THAT’s US, may purchase Met Life Dental Insurance through GIC, just as State retirees have been allowed.  Before purchasing, one should examine and compare benefit levels with other options (Weymouth, MTA) as well as insurance costs.  You should receive information o this option soon.
July 10, 2012
Unfunded Liability…Ed Mehan responds

 The Wednesday, June 27 Ledger and the Weymouth News ran lengthy articles depicting the “huge unfunded liability” incurred by cities and towns as a result of retired public employee health insurance plans.

 The Ledger article was predictably sensationalistic and slanted.  The Weymouth News article was more even-handed.  David Riley, the author of both articles, privately acknowledged that the Ledger article had been heavily edited by the Ledger news editor.

 For Town of Weymouth Retirees the message is very clear. Mass Taxpayers Association and Mass Municipal Association, both heavily funded by business interests, are beginning their war on retired Public Employee  Health Insurance.  And yes, retiree health insurance is expensive for cities and towns, and retirees.  The Retiree part of the story is often omitted.  We felt it important to provide the following points that tell the rest of the story.

  • Public employees were often not paid at the same level as the private sector.  Low-cost Retiree Health Insurance was an understood perk to provide future security for lower current income, and to compensate for public employees not being eligible for Medicare insurance.
  •  Most municipal employees reaching age 65 are now eligible for and required to sign up and pay for Medicare as a result of  their own private sector employment or their spouse’s coverage.  This reduces the insurance obligation to cities and towns by approx. 2/3 for those receiving Medicare.  This is huge!
  • The accuracy of the estimates of unfunded liability is seriously questioned.  Health insurance costs have stabilized as a result of Weymouth and other communities electing to join GIC.  And retirees not receiving Medicare are paying significantly higher co-pays.  The Town of Weymouth made annual reductions of $2.8 Million as a result of the move to GIC.  A significant part of this reduction in cost was made as a result of the move of retired teachers into the Municipality plan of GIC.
  • Gov. Patrick has created a fairly well-balanced Commission to study public sector retiree health insurance costs.  Their report is due in November.  Hopefully this report will remove some of the hype from the issue, and focus on an accurate picture of Retiree Public Employee Health Insurance Costs.

It is important that retired public employees have a more complete picture of this issue! And hopefully the general public will get a more balanced view.  Watch for the November Commission Report.

Ron Suga’s Retirement Celebration…
As many of you know Ron Suga was our MTA consultant for many years. Weymouth teachers benefited from his guidance as he assisted the WTA association through contract negotiations and more importantly contract maintenance.  If you would like to attend his Retirement Celebration
      Friday, July 27th @ 5:45 at the Wollaston Golf Club 999 Randolph Ave, Milton
the cost is $60 and checks should be sent to
Jacqueline McDonough c/o MTA office- before July 20th
100 Grandview Rd.  Suite 320, Braintree Ma 02184 

MAY 31, 2012

IMPORTANT Notice From:   Paul Toner, MTA President and Tim Sullivan, MTA Vice President                    Re: Delay in Direct Deposit of Retirees’ May Benefit Payments

The Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System posted a notice on its website today to notify retirees that there is a problem with the direct-deposit process and that May direct deposits have not reached bank accounts.

MTRS Executive Director Joan Schloss e-mailed us about the problem, and MTA Executive Director-Treasurer Ann Clarke spoke to her.

Ms. Schloss told us that there was a problem with the direct-deposit file the treasurer’s office uses for teacher retirees.

The treasurer’s office is working on the problem, and the MTRS will be notified as soon as it is resolved. The MTRS will then provide an update on the MTRS homepage:  http://www.mass.gov/mtrs/ Ms. Schloss expressed her concern for retirees who have automatic bill-paying linked to their direct deposits and assured us that the MTRS will be monitoring this situation until it is resolved.

Medicare Sign-up  (posted 5-22-12)
We bring to the attention of Retirees that G.I.C.  requires all health insurance recipients to register for Medicare at age 65 at your local Social Security office. You MUST request Medicare coverage (even if you do not believe you are eligible).  You and G.I.C. will be notified of your eligibilty or denial.G.I.C. does sent a reminder of this requirement approximately 1 month prior to your (or your spouses) 65th birthday, but ultimately it is your responsibility!  Do NOT assume you are ineligible.  You may qualify for coverage if your spouse has Medicare.  In any event G.I.C must receive an approval or denial of coverage from Medicare.

As you are probably aware, Medicare coverage with a supplement through G.I.C, does provide health insurance with fewer deductibles at a somewhat lower cost for you (after adding the cost of Medicare + the supplement) than is received through  the G.I.C primary insurance plans.  And the Town of Weymouth saves a significant amount of premium if you are eligible for Medicare.

May 2012
Hello Weymouth Retired Teachers————
We are pleased to announce our own website to provide information to you as retired teachers. Please visit our website: WeymouthRetiredTeachers.org  To see all the schools featured on the website, click on a picture.We also have a new email address: weymouthretiredteachers@gmail.comIf you have any comments on the website, suggestions for additional information, or concerns you want addressed, please email us.Update on the Current Weymouth Retiree Health Insurance Status and Future Prospects:
        Our short-term Weymouth Retiree Health Insurance remains fairly positive.  Rate increases for the next fiscal year beginning July 1, 2012, have been estimated by GIC to average 1.43%.  We cannot do much better than that. No changes have been indicated for deductibles or co-pays.  We continue to have health insurance with the Town of Weymouth paying 80% to 87.5% of the premium, depending on your type of coverage.Weymouth has an existing PEC (Public Employee Committee) and contract with the GIC, therefore, we were not impacted by the legislation passed last summer which forced municipal employees/retirees to join GIC or comparable insurance programs.The long-term insurance outlook is not so clear.  The Weymouth-GIC health insurance contract ends June 30, 2015.  GIC requires notification by Sept. 30, 2014, regarding the town’s intention to stay in the program.  We anticipate that the PEC, which represents Weymouth actives and retirees, will be negotiating with the Town approximately 2 years from now.The major concern of the PEC revolves around high co-pays, particularly for insureds who have major health issues, repeated hospitalizations, etc. Medicare retirees are not impacted by this issue.  A method for dealing with this issue could be for the Town to implement a town-funded HSA  program to assist those impacted by cumulative, extremely-high co-pays.Our greatest long-term concern is the increasing public anxiety over the “unfunded public liability” of retiree health insurance.  In part, it is a legitimate concern.  Health care insurance for retirees, even the supplementary insurance for Medicare recipients, is costly. However, the business-supported Mass. Taxpayers Assn. and others magnify the extent of the problem.  A high percentage of municipal employees are Medicare eligible with resultant savings.  Additionally, public employees always believed, and were told, that they would receive retiree benefits in lieu of higher wages and salaries.
         The Governor has set up a Commission with broad representation, including MTA President Paul Toner to study and make recommendations regarding the issue.  We need to watch this development very closely.  The cost and extent of future retiree health insurance will be impacted by this Commission’s report and further legislation.
The future requires that public sector retirees such including Weymouth Retired Teachers stand ready to defend our retirees to retain our retiree health insurance..
Health Insurance tip:  If you know you are going to be hospitalized, contact your insurance company before the hospitalization.Please send any home address and email address changes  or additions to our email address
weymouthretiredteachers@gmail.com
or
WRTO c/o WTA
33 Union St., Suite23
Weymouth, MA 02190
& nbsp;As in past years, we ask you to make a $10 contribution to the Weymouth Retired Teacher Organization.  We are the organization which speaks and lobbies for the interests of retired teachers in the Town of Weymouth. Please send your checks toWRTO c/o WTA
33 Union St., Suite23
Weymouth, MA 02190

January ’12 Newspaper Article

        The following article, originally appearing in the Boston Globe, reprinted by the Mass Retired State, County and Municipal Employees and other organizations, explains some of the public mood, rhetoric, and real issues surrounding Retiree Health Insurance.

We, retired teachers, currently have comprehensive health insurance. We earned it!!  It is not cheap for either retiree or the town of Weymouth.  The article explains why we will need to remain vigilant and persuasive to retain our insurance coverage at affordable cost!
http://www.massretirees.com/article/issues/local-insurance/huge-retirement-shortfall-cities-reported#.TxhTH8nid1Y.mailto

The Commonwealth’s ‘Open Checkbook’ Initiative-

The 2011 state budget included an initiative to provide detailed information about state expenditures, including state employees’ salaries and retiree’s pensions.

  • Visible Info: Your Name, School district, Your retirement date, Your monthly pension and Your annual Pension
  • Private info NOT visible: Your address, Your social security number, Your bank information, Information about survivors, beneficiaries and dependents

November 18, 2011…..Will the new pension bill affect you?  Gov. Patrick signed into law a number of pension changes.  It mostly affects new hires, but it may also impact certain retired members and survivors.  Check the link for more info: www.massteacher.org/news/archive/2011/11-15.aspx

Key changes address:

  • COLA base has been increased from the first $12,000 to $13,000.
  • Maternity leave creditable service
  • Option C changes for same sex spouse
  • Post-Retirement earning change
  • For those with at least 25 years of service, effective 4/2/12, the minimum pension has been raised to $15,000 a year.

Fall 2011 Update

  • Stephanie Darling and Ed Meehan recently attended 2 meetings: the Fall Meeting of the MTA Retired and the Oct. 25 Meeting of the Weymouth PEC (the bargaining group for our health insurance).  We thought you would be interested in comments made at the meetings.
  • PEC Meeting—The focus of this meeting was the impact of the Federal Health Insurance Legislation, presented by Cindy DePina of the HR Dept. Frankly, the impacts on us seem minimal at this time.  High priced (Cadillac Programs) will be taxed in 2018.
  • Of more importance was the sparse attendance of union reps to the PEC….JimMoore, the Retiree Representative, was in attendance.  Another meeting of the PEC has been called for early December. Hopefully, union reps will recognize the importance of the PEC and attend this meeting.
  • The importance of the PEC was highlighted by a reminder from Cindy DePina that our contract for health insurance ends with GIC July 1, 2015. GIC MUST be notified by Oct. 1, 2014 of the desire of the Town of Weymouth, and its insureds to remain in the program.  This means that negotiations between the PEC and the Town of Weymouth to extend our current insurance program with GIC would have to resume by early 2014…………just over 2 years from now. If you know any leaders of Weymouth unions, you might cite the importance of having a functioning PEC and send a rep to the December meeting.
  • MTA Retired Meeting—The main focus of this meeting was the role of the PEC in bargaining with cities and town for health insurance.  Fortunately, we are ahead of the pack in this regard.  We have a negotiated contract.  We have a PEC.  But, as cited above, it is important that the PEC function as the representative arm of Weymouth employees and retirees in negotiating future health insurance contracts.
  • Jo-an Hamilton, a WRTO board member, and board member of   REAM (Retired Educators of Massachusetts) has forwarded some information she would like to share with Weymouth retirees.
  • At the Annual REAM meeting the focus was on Protecting the Purchasing Power of Pensions.
  • As you know the State Senate voted to raise the COLA base to $13,000.  This bill will be discussed in the House within the next week or two. Please call, write, or e-mail your representative and ask him to support the increase to  $16,000. This bill H701 now H3457 sets the base of future increases to the Consumer Price Index as determined by Social Security. Over time the COLA base would be a percentage of the maximum social security benefit.
  • Please do not sign a petition sponsored by STAND FOR CHILDREN. This organization has close to 10,000 signatures to get a question on the ballot to change seniority based raises to merit based. We must support the active teachers.
  • We are currently working on setting up a WRTO website to serve as a resource of information for retired teachers.  We will let you know when it is up and functioning.

WRTO Executive Committee