Insurance Dilemma – Ambrosino’s thought process is on the money

February 17, 2009
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Nearly every city and town in the commonwealth is beset by year-to-year runaway health insurance premiums.

In many communities like Revere, providing health insurance for the city’s employees tacks on millions of extra dollars in expenses to that line item.

No community can afford the drastic costs of providing municipal employees at that rate of increase.

In private industry, when rates go up dramatically managers immediately call a health insurance broker and discuss particulars in order to maintain the very best coverage at the very best price.

“I wish I could do that,” Mayor Thomas Ambrosino told the Journal Tuesday morning.

“What [private industry does] is what Revere needs to be able to do with our health insurance, or we’re going to go broke trying to pay for it,” he said.

The mayor pointed out that 11 city unions would have to agree unanimously in order for changes to be made in health insurance the city provides to its employees.

That being the case, it is a near impossibility for the city to change anything about its health insurance because that type of unanimity is virtually impossible when 11 unions are involved.

What the mayor is trying to do at the state level is to get the state to give mayors and city and town managers the power to negotiate health insurance directly.

This type of unilateral power, according to the mayor, will allow him to bargain for more economical programs with providers and to change some aspects of the coverage, such as co-pays, without deviating from the basic 80-85 percent contribution the city supplies for its public employees.

Whether the mayor will succeed is anyone’s guess.

However, we believe he is on to a good thing.

The current situation cannot go on much longer before it collapses.

“Municipalities need relief,” said the mayor.

And he is right on the money.

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