State House News Service | By Andy Metzger | February 01, 2018
Upending a controversial move to cut three carriers from the health insurance menu available to public employees, the Group Insurance Commission voted as forecast on Thursday to reconsider its Jan. 18 vote.
The board two weeks ago voted 8-5 with two abstentions to eliminate Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Tufts Health Plan and Fallon Community Health as carriers, sparking an outcry from public employee unions and elected officials who expressed concern about GIC members losing access to their health care providers.
Culling the insurance carrier offerings would have saved more than $20 million while maintaining comparable coverage and allowing members to continue seeing their doctors with potentially lower out-of-pocket expenses, according to GIC officials.
“I don’t think it takes a political expert to conclude our process was flawed,” said Melvin Kleckner, who voted with the majority on Jan. 18, and on Thursday moved to reconsider that earlier vote.
At a meeting held in the Transportation Building, the GIC board voted 12-2 to undo its earlier decision. Valerie Sullivan, the board chairwoman, and Tamara Davis opposed the motion to reconsider.
“I hope going forward we can commit to a better process next year,” said Timothy Sullivan, who represents the Massachusetts Teachers Association on the GIC and said board members should have more time before making such weighty decisions. Sullivan opposed the earlier decision to cut the health plans.
The move to reconsider returns the GIC to a decision about how to move forward with plans for its members. The meeting continued after the vote Thursday with a discussion about the commission’s options.