In my continuing series on what my government leaders say about the escalating cost of municipal healthcare in Massachusetts, here's the response from Governor Patrick's office. Unfortunately, it seems like someone didn't read my message very clearly. Both Bedford Town Manager Rick Reed and State Rep. Charles Murphy sent me very complete and thoughtful replies, as posted recently here. However, Governor Patrick's office didn't read my note or handled it via some sort of automated reply. The reply had to do with concern about overall insurance premiums (which I do worry about) and not this specific issue which has had a lot of press coverage lately.
Anyway, so no one can accuse me of playing favorites, here's the disappointing reply from Governor Patrick. I did send a follow-up note to his office explaining what I was interested in. Perhaps they'll send another reply. Meanwhile, keep the pressure on your local officials to do something about this. I'd be interested in some comments from readers about what you are seeing in your towns. For example, a friend from Wellesley shared with me that Wellesley's problems on this issue seem to be even more acute than the average in the Globe article -- 18% of tax levy spent on municipal employee and retiree healthcare, and still rising fasat!
Reply from Governor Patrick's office:
March 5, 2010
On behalf of Governor Deval Patrick, thank you for your recent correspondence regarding your health insurance premiums.
Responding directly to concerns from citizens and small business leaders, Governor Patrick has directed the Commissioner of Insurance, on an emergency basis, to require health insurance companies to file any increases or changes to rates before they take effect and to disapprove the increases if they are unreasonable or excessive. Any increases significantly higher than the current level of medical cost inflation, which today is 3.2 percent, will be challenged.
Some health insurance carriers will begin filing for rate increases on March 2, 2010 for an effective date of April 1, 2010. While the Division of Insurance is reviewing submitted rates, policyholders must pay their premiums in a timely manner to ensure continued coverage. If a rate is disapproved, policyholders will be notified by their health carrier of the disapproval and information regarding refunds, if any, of premiums already paid. If you have any further questions regarding your individual rates please contact the Division of Insurance at 617-521-7794.
Please feel free to contact our office with any future questions or concerns. Your comments are always welcome in this administration.
The Constituent Services Office