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AIM's Government Affairs Offers Opportunity to Engage on Issues

Posted by Brad MacDougall on Apr 28, 2010 11:54:00 AM

Yesterday, John Regan, AIM's Executive Vice President of Government Affairs hosted IssueConnect a monthly live webinar which updates members on economic trends in Massachusetts and provides an opportunity to engage on all the public policy issues that affect your bottom line - taxes, health care costs, and proposals to mandate seven sick days and other benefits.  Should you have any questions or feedback, please contact John Regan, AIM’s Executive Vice President of Government Affairs jregan@aimnet.org or 617-262-1180.

Register here for the next IssueConnect webinar scheduled for Tuesday, May 25, 2010.  Join us to address the pressing issues of the employer community.

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Here are a few of the answers to questions posed by members during April's IssueConnect:

Does AIM support state legislation to allow municipal government to join the state healthcare plan known as the Group Insurance Commission (GIC) to relieve municipal budgets and reduce pressure on state aid?
AIM supports granting Massachusetts municipalities the ability to alter health care plan design, without having to bargain those changes with municipal unions.  Municipal health insurance costs have increased at double-digit rates annually since 2000 – more than five times the rate of inflation – growing from just 6 percent of municipal budgets in 2001 to a projected 20 percent by 2020, according to a Mass. Taxpayers Foundation analysis.

Two straightforward changes would provide large and immediate savings in health costs, dwarfing the savings from all other municipal relief proposals:

  • Give local officials the power to design their health insurance plans outside of collective bargaining.
  • Require by statute that all eligible local retirees enroll in Medicare as their primary source of health insurance coverage.

In both cases, these changes would merely provide municipal leaders with the same tools as the state to manage health insurance costs and bring the extraordinarily generous benefits of municipal employees – the last bastion of the $5 co-pay – in line with state employees.

Allowing municipalities to change their health benefits outside of collective bargaining – as has long been done by the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC) – would save cities and towns roughly $100 million in the first year alone and as much as $2 billion annually by 2020.

What do you see as potential growth areas for jobs?
The largest growth in the next few years is likely to be in some of the more cyclical industries.  We’ll see gains in business/technical/professional services, especially at the higher end (most of the gains so far have been temp employment), and leisure/recreation (e.g., restaurants).  These should pick up as the economy begins to expand in earnest.

Among the industries specifically hit, some parts of construction (not office buildings), and also manufacturing, are likely to regain lost jobs.  There’s unlikely to be much growth in government jobs, and there could be further significant losses.

Health services will continue to be strong, education probably less so.

How does the national and state healthcare reform efforts impact job creation?
Healthcare costs are one of the top issues continually raised by employers and business leaders trying survive and grow their companies.  AIM’s board of directors decided that participating in reform and cost containment efforts provides employers the best opportunity to help solve the long-term health cost problem – which currently strains employer’s ability to create jobs.  AIM believes that sustainable job creation in the Commonwealth requires significant commitment by public policy decision makers and all stakeholders to address to cost of healthcare.

In early April, Rick Lord AIM’s President and CEO spoke with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and her staff at length about the decision by Massachusetts businesses in 2006 to work with government, health-care providers, insurers and consumer groups to develop a framework of shared responsibility to expand health insurance coverage.  Recently, Sandy Reynolds, AIM’s Executive Vice President commented about the impacts of the federal law on Massachusetts.

AIM offered comments on the ongoing state healthcare cost containment proposals to tackle health-care costs for small businesses; we made clear that any solution must involve both insurers and providers. AIM believes that the time is now for offering some relief and we cannot let the fact that the solutions are hard to implement or disruptive of the status quo be an excuse for not forging ahead to resolve the health care cost conundrum.  AIM recently commented on an initial public policy plan outlined by the Senate President and we are committed to work with the Administration and the members of the General Court as healthcare cost containment measure move through the legislative process.

Our opportunity to address the high cost of healthcare in the Commonwealth has arrived. We invite you to join us in that effort.

Has AIM taken a position on the Sales Tax Ballot question?
Not at this time.

Topics: Massachusetts Legislature, Employers, Massachusetts economy, Massachusetts employers, Human Resources, Richard Lord, Common Wealth 2010, John Regan, Policy

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