In a letter to the Globe editor yesterday, it seems that Glenn Koocher, ED of the MA Association of School Committees, thinks he disagrees with an op-ed (An avoidable teachers strike) published on Tuesday in the Globe by Allison Fraser and me. But he writes:
Cost sharing of health insurance, a most contentious item, is but part of the task. Taking it off the bargaining table camouflages the real health and educational problem. Containing health costs at the provider level and managing inappropriate use of healthcare resources are equally effective strategies for controlling insurance costs. Exploring short- and long-term disability coverage can also help manage sick leave costs.
So, it seems to me, he agrees that cost sharing is part of the task. He also thinks that cost containment and disability coverage options are important components of a comprehensive way to hold down costs. Yup. OK. Pioneer–through significant work by authors such as Nancy Kane (e.g., her work on the quality and cost of health care in Massachusetts hospitals)–has been working on that for years.
But let’s not forget why change is coming. The solution proposed by Fraser in her 2006 Better Government Competition runner-up entry leads to (1) sizable cost savings to localities (as noted in our Globe piece):
If Boston had purchased health insurance for its teachers through GIC in fiscal 2006, it would have saved more than $45 million. Lawrence, Worcester, and Springfield are among the cities in which savings would have topped $10 million.
Springfield has already implemented this reform and saved those millions. Mayor Menino may not do it yet, but he is surely eyeing it. I’ll bet another reform-oriented mayor will soon be pushing this.
So, welcome aboard, Glenn.