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UPDATED: City Council Rejects Mayor’s Health Insurance Change

A majority of the City Council voted down an idea by Mayor Scott Galvin to adopt the local option of the state’s Municipal Health Care Reform law that “would allow Woburn to make changes to co-pays, deductibles and tiering.”

Mayor Scott Galvin. Photo credit: Patch file photo.
Mayor Scott Galvin. Photo credit: Patch file photo.

UPDATED at 5:38 p.m. Friday: Mayor Scott Galvin's PowerPoint presentation has been added. Flip through the presentation to reach out more about why the mayor supported Woburn adopting a local health insurance option. 

Note: Galvin's presentation is a PowerPoint, which doesn't work perfectly with the website. Readers should enlarge the presentation so you're able to see more of the slides. 

Original post at 3:38 p.m. Thursday:

Despite Mayor Scott Galvin’s estimates that Woburn could save more than $1.5 million annually by adopting a local health insurance option, a majority of the Woburn City Council rejected the idea – and voted to not even send it to committee.

Galvin said the local option would allow Woburn to make changes to co-pays, deductibles and tiering. That would not change employee contributions, which “would still be the subject to traditional bargaining,” said Galvin in a letter to the City Council.

“This the same way that plan design changes are implemented for every employee that works for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” he said in a letter to the council.

Galvin presented the idea to the City Council on Tuesday, but the council rejected sending the idea to committee by a 5-4 vote.

"This sounds simple, but it actually impacts the sickest and most in need of services," said Ward 1 Alderman Rosa DiTucci, reported the Daily Times Chronicle. "These are the people who are being impacted the most."

DiTucci, Ward 2 Alderman Richard Gately, Ward 3 Alderman Mark Gaffney, Ward 6 Alderman Michael Raymond and Ward 7 Alderman Raymond Drapeau all supported Gately’s motion to squash the idea and not send it to committee.

Councilors who voted in favor of sending it to committee said the councilors should at least discuss the idea.

After the council’s rejection, Galvin sent a statement to the Daily Times Chronicle that said the current health insurance system in Woburn and in other communities is “unsustainable” and city officials have “to do what is best for all the residents and taxpayers of this city.”

“For a majority of the City Council to refuse to face this reality—or even discuss it—is irresponsible and simply kicks the difficult but necessary measures to address this growing problem down the road for others. 

"The five self-interested Aldermen (Richard Gately, Rosa DiTucci, Mike Raymond, Ray Drapeau and Mark Gaffney)—all of whom receive the same city of Woburn health insurance benefits that they refused to discuss reforming—have clearly neglected their fiduciary duty to the 39,000 Woburn residents and taxpayers they were elected to serve. In addition to being self-serving in nature, their votes display a lack of political courage and shameless pandering that I have not seen in my 20 years of public service,” said Galvin.

Shannon Sevier February 07, 2014 at 06:48 AM
Dan the state employees are not on this health care program. They adopted some parts of the program but not the plan as a whole. Like I said in my earlier post this program was put together by the state to help the cities and towns that are broke. We are according to the Mayor not broke. I am not saying the system doesnt need a revamp because it does. I am saying it was sneaky they way he went about doing it.
dan February 07, 2014 at 07:06 AM
If I can remember, the program was put together by the state to help cities and towns bring the cost of health care down although it may have started with cities that were in the red. Many communities who are not broke have adopted it. Furthermore, why was the Mayor sneaky, by bring the issue before the council? Isn’t that the procedure? For example, when the state pass a law to allowed veterans to add their military time onto their years of city service, the issue had to be brought to the city council. Isn’t this the same? If the city can save 1.5 million dollars a year that is not chump change.
Sue L February 07, 2014 at 07:09 AM
Did the mayor bring this to the collective bargaining unit first, or did he circumvent it by bringing it to the council?
Shannon Sevier February 07, 2014 at 07:21 AM
Brought it to the council first Sue there is the sneaky part. He was trying to take away the Unions collective bargaining.Do I think that someone making over 80,000 a year should pay the same for city sponsored insurance as someone who only makes 12,000 a yr no! That's where you can pick up funds a system that you pay based on what you make.
dan February 07, 2014 at 07:29 AM
Shannon Sevier, as I said above, I don't think this is a collective bargaining issue. Furthermore, with your logic on the payment, a sub shop should charge a person making $80,000 a year $10.00 for a sub, while a person who makes $12,000 a year pays $1.00 for the sub.
Mike Sciee February 07, 2014 at 07:33 AM
Hypocrites - Yes this is what the five members of the Woburn City Council are for not discussing the Mayors proposal. I believe you are all Democrats, yes? So I would think you would be in favor for adopting the same healthcare proposals that our Governor and President pushed for??? So I'm not sure why Mr. Drapeau is on our City's insurance when he works for the Town of Lexington, what a joke. And Mr. Raymond, I thought you worked for the Dept. of Transportation?? As far as I am concerned, you are doing what's best for you and not what is best for taxpayers. You are a bunch of losers!!
Shannon Sevier February 07, 2014 at 07:48 AM
Dan that was a bit condescending So you think its ok for a person making 120,000 a yr (actual city salary) to only be paying 260 a month for family ( not single) health insurance while the person making full time 12,000 a yr (again actual city salary) pays the same? I dont think thats right. So maybe my logic is off. And Mike they are not hypocrites they did there job thats it. This whole proposal was done wrong and it was batted down. Its none of anyone business where these council members get their insurances.
Mike Sciee February 07, 2014 at 07:54 AM
Shannon, I'm not even sure why they get insurance for being on the City Council or to that the School Committee. These are part-time positions at best. Not sure, but I am guessing that all five members are democrat and noted for our Governor and President who want more reformed healthcare laws. Did you?
Sue L February 07, 2014 at 07:55 AM
Thanks Shannon for the clarification. Hate to put anything on here without doing my due diligence- wouldn't want to ruffle anyone's feathers!! Sounds a bit sneaky to me.... I am a member of a bargaining unit NOT the City, and this would never fly. I thought that open lines of communication exisied in our city. Why not take it to the Unit- since they will be the ones incurring the extra costs and maybe a compromise could be reached. Just saying, open lines of communication foster better working relationships, not the "it's my way or the highway" mentality!
stephen smith Jr February 07, 2014 at 07:56 AM
Way to go! I am glad they made a stand against Galvin. I hope there are more stands so jt limits tbe damage and mismanagement of his office....
Shannon Sevier February 07, 2014 at 08:06 AM
No Mike I didn't vote for either. I was on a commission for 7 yrs I never went on the insurance but I will tell you it was far from part time. I spent every free minute getting prepared for meetings. We spent our weekends out at sites trying to make heads or tails out of the projects all on our time. All.for a small monthly stipend. So your telling me that a City Council person responsible for the City as a whole isnt taking more time to prepare for meetings or answering phone calls from upset woburnites or responding to emails again all for very little money. Look what other citys pay thier Aldermen and be happy we get the service we get for the small amount they are given.
dan February 07, 2014 at 08:18 AM
Shannon Sevier -- No employee in the city who is working full time makes $12,000 a year because of the prevailing wage laws in the state. Unless you are talking about a city council person or someone on a commission, which are part time positions, and with that, why are the tax payers paying a part timer health insurance cost of about $30-35,000 a year? There are plenty of citizens who believe in good government that will take commission or government positions for no stipend or health insurance.
Santo February 07, 2014 at 08:32 AM
I see valid points from both sides on this issue...What I don't see the point of however, is the Mayor personally attacking the Aldermen that voted against his proposal. Good way to be petty and good way to create a stand-off'ish dynamic with the Council.
Sue L February 07, 2014 at 08:34 AM
Will the insurance changes/increases effect the Mayor? Or just the peons beneath him? Just curious...
Shannon Sevier February 07, 2014 at 08:39 AM
Dan ask the citys lunch ladies what they bring in a year and get back to me. I was not talking about the council or commissions stipends and no Sue it doesnt effect the Mayor .
Janet Levesque February 07, 2014 at 08:42 AM
The mayor's wife works for Mass General Hospital and they have a fabulous plan. The point is simple - five democratically elected members of our city government did their jobs. None of these people is rich or getting rich working for the city. And for all they do the mean-spirited people on this board say the don't deserve healthcare? The mayor's job is supposed to be part-time too. Does that mean he shouldn't get health care either? Why is his job more important than the others? Not according to our rules it isn't. It's a two part government running our city or its supposed to be and this mayor keeps trying to take more and more control. Shame on him for trying to turn the people of the city against the workers who provide services for us. They get up and go to work every day like us and most of them make way less than workers in the regular workplace. I wish everyone on this board would just stop because it is feeding right into what the mayor wants. Don't talk about it and it will go away. This debate is what he wants and his people are all over it - back again after a nice rest from the election dirtiness.
Bill February 07, 2014 at 08:45 AM
Since 2008 total health insurance cost for City has gone up 24% ( from Fy2008 and Fly 2013) budgets on City website. Employee's' total cost has gone up 126% (from same budgets marked "less employee contribution). This is due to the Unions agreeing to increase their contribution & each of the last 2 contracts. This is always going to be an option, but why decrease employee benefits when your City is enjoying unprecedented economic success..
Sue L February 07, 2014 at 08:50 AM
Very Interesting.... well clearly there are issues here which extend far beyond health coverage. Someone's true colors are beginning to show..... Glad I don't work for the city!!
Shannon Sevier February 07, 2014 at 08:53 AM
Your right Janet Levesque. I am not posting anymore. .Feeding the Mayors need for aggravation is not on my list for today Have a good day Patch posters!
Naughty Monkey February 07, 2014 at 09:04 AM
Janet - perfectly stated. Where is the outrage when the Mayor is spending money on useless fields and subjecting our city to lawsuits? Did the 88 new hires health benefits cross his mind when he was resurrecting positions that weren't filled for years? He seemed to neglect his "fiduciary duty" to the taxpayers with all his antics. If it weren't for those Alderman that are not pandering to the Mayor, the City of Woburn would be in a whole lot of trouble. Up next, the Mayor's raise. I wonder when that will be brought up again.
Pat February 07, 2014 at 09:05 AM
Dan I don't work for the city, no close family works for the city. I do have a distant cousin on a board.
RE February 07, 2014 at 09:36 AM
Dear Scott, Thank you for trying to put a burden on my already out of control health costs for my misfortune of my terminal illness. Thank you for being the "elected" boss (Scrooge) that looks out for all the healthy prospering tax payers and saving them pennies on the backs of the sick. Thank you to all the people who support him. I thank you, my kids thank you and all the city employees thank you Scott for when the need of your health plan "reform" calls upon us in the time of need, we thank you for making us pay more money in times of sickness. Truly, thank you to the five alderpersons who democratically had the integrity to stand against an angry Napoleon wannabe democrat. Rick English
Ellie February 07, 2014 at 10:26 AM
Rick. Very well stated. You speak what so many think. But won't say. Bless you.
Ellie February 07, 2014 at 06:18 PM
I just read Ray drapeau. Article I times tonite and I say good for you Ray. For speaking out. No one man should tell a city how to live thier lives. Or try to make them have insurance coverage that is not what is best for them. Tks to the five alderman Who stood up and made a stand for the employees. Way to go
Roth Gill February 07, 2014 at 08:03 PM
So the Mayor wants to change the plan to "save the tax payers money"? Makes a little sense, except that in the end it may end up costing city insured policy holders more money for care they may need. Suppose for example the city changes it's policy to a tier policy, costs for the CITY may be lower, but costs for the INDIVIDUAL may be higher. Medications that were previously covered at a lower cost may and most likely go higher with a tier system. Primary Care Physicians and specialists may not fit into the tier and people may have to find new doctors as well as paying higher co-pays for appointments. To say that the aldermen who voted against this are "self-serving" is completely backwards. Their vote against this change shows strength, conviction, and courage. To label them in the Times and say "their votes display a lack of political courage and shameless pandering that I have not seen in my 20 years of public service." is deplorable.
Ellie February 07, 2014 at 08:27 PM
Very well said. Mr. Gill
GMan Extreme February 07, 2014 at 09:14 PM
Agreed. Good. Job. Roth. Well. Written.
garc2010 February 08, 2014 at 01:03 PM
Shannon good point ....private sector employees don't understand the part-time nature of some city jobs. To Dan's point, in the private sector typically only fulltime employees get benefits, fulltime equals 40hours per week or 2,080 hours per year. So even at MA minimum wage of $8.00 per hour, fulltme employees would make over $16,000 per year.... Gov't sector employee benefit packages were more consistent with private sector following WWII but moving into the 1980's private sector pensions began to disappear infavor of self funded 401K programs plus social security due to increasing life expectancies and sustainability problems seen by private business...What is happening here is since the year 2000 health care prices have skyrocketed due to the increasing number of elderly and the number of uninsured..... This is a big problem that we all need to understand and take action on because the "BabyBoomers" are all moving towards that long retirement period where their medical costs will soar..... Not saying I have all the answers by any means but I know government moves slowly and I guess the realities that came to the private sector are overdue for the City, State & Federal Government employees, there's no avoiding it .... It is always better to face a problem and fix it rather than stick your head in the sand and wait for it to go away.............As for Mayor Galvin's statements,.....no one can accuse him of talking behind their backs!........this an excellent topic, keep talking Woburn !
Rose Thorn February 08, 2014 at 04:39 PM
I see that Arlington, Lexington, and Stoneham, have joined the government insurance commission. First hand information from one family, is they wish they still had the old plan. Some of the deductibles can be killers, and many benefits limited. Just look at Ma Health Connector, you get what you pay, for plain and simple. I noticed that GIC mentions a clause to eliminate health coverage to elected officials if the municipality cares to, for anyone who's hours are less than 19.75 hours a week. Regardless of the vote, I still think they did the right thing. Collective bargaining is where it should start and end.
dan February 09, 2014 at 07:52 AM
When Woburn Employees, elected officials and commission member do not like a change, they scream about violating collective bargaining. Have they spoke up about the numerous family members who care for children or sick, love, ones at home and who were forced to pay union dues, these same people were silent. http://www.publicsectorinc.org/2014/02/5879/

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