The debate over whether or not Newton should discontinue running its own health insurance program for municipal and school employees in favor of this seemingly varied menu of health insurance coverage plans offered through Massachusetts Group Insurance Commission, dates back at least eight years to when Setti Warren was first running for mayor.
And it has resurfaced now as one of the few instances where Scott Lennon and Ruthanne Fuller sharply disagree.
Back in 2009, both Warren and his opponent State Rep. Ruth Balser were both open to moving city and school workers to the GIC if it provided significant budget savings, with Warren stressing that negotiating with unions on the campaign trail “should not happen.”
Here’s what the candidates had to say on NewTV…
Eight years later, city and school workers are still on a city-run insurance plan. But with union contract talks on the next mayor’s to-do list, talk about escalating health care costs have once again reignited a discussion about joining these cities, towns and school districts by switching to the GIC.
However, this time only Fuller has taken the position Warren and Balser took eight years ago, telling me last week: “I will not take the GIC off the table. It is possible that it will provide more options for our employees and a lower cost. “
In contrast Lennon says, if elected, the GIC would be off the table, saying he thinks he can get the unions (all of whom have endorsed Lennon) to keep costs down by “working together.”
Here’s the key part of our discussion…
Who’s right? Should the state GIC be off the table from collective bargaining as Lennon argues? Or is Fuller right when she says it needs to be an option that’s on the table during negotiations?