Not Like The Other

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In general, good manners are to be respected. But our dear friends in the business community are overdoing it.

In the ongoing debate over municipal healthcare costs, there are now three competing proposals on the table, the Governor’s, the House, and the Senate.

The Governor’s effort is largely a bunt — signaling a desire to get communities into GIC or give them control over plan design but pushing the details off onto the regulatory process.

The House is much clearer — communities can adjust plan design up to the equivalent of the biggest plan for state workers or enter GIC, so long as 10% of first year savings is returned to workers.

The Senate takes a different approach — communities can negotiate their way to plan design changes or entering GIC but they have to undergo an approval process by a 3 person board (1 appointee from the unions, 1 appointee by the municipality, and 1 by the Sec’y of Administration and Finance). The committee can provide up to 33% of the savings to employees for a year (I think.).

From my seat, these plans are very different. The potential for mischief on the review panel is huge (ask the City of Boston about their firefighter contract arbitration process). 10% of one year’s savings is materially less than 33% of savings.

So, the impulse for consensus from the business community is troubling. We are told that each plan gets us to “the exact same place” by their representative.

In a telling twist, it’s left to the Boston Globe editorial page to clarify to our dear friends representing the business community that the House plan is clearly superior.

Those who recall the modest results of the last consensus driven municipal healthcare reform effort should also be skeptical of half measures. It’s long past time that we set aside our desire for good manners and chose to cut back on the hundreds of unneccesary millions spent by municipalities on healthcare rather than services.