BOSTON – On Jan. 25, Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) swiftly filed legislation in response to the recent decision by the Group Insurance Commission (GIC) to significantly reduce the number of healthcare carriers available to active and retired GIC members. The bill, An Act to ensure greater transparency at the GIC (SD.2500), received immediate praise from Senator Friedman’s colleagues and now boasts 34 Senate co-sponsors.
SD.2500 would require the GIC to refrain from executing an agreement or contract for insurance coverage or a health plan until 90 days after notice has been provided to the Legislature. This 90-day window would ensure the public has an adequate opportunity to provide input, as well as enable the Legislature to seek detailed information from the GIC regarding why and how specific decisions are made and the specific ramifications decisions may have on individual health plans.
“I’ve heard from countless concerned families in my district who fear that they will be forced on to a new plan that may or may not allow them to keep their current doctors or continue the course of treatment that they are currently on,” Friedman explained. “I’m outraged by the lack of transparency by the GIC in making this decision and the complete lack of notice in providing specific details of the changes to those that will be highly affected by this change.”
Following significant public outcry across the state, the GIC retreated yesterday and announced that, at its scheduled February 1st meeting, it plans to make a motion to reconsider its Jan. 18 vote to narrow healthcare carriers. If the motion passes, a second vote will be taken to accept the full list of original healthcare carriers, including the three carriers that have been dropped: Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Tufts Health Plan, and Fallon Health.
“I’m pleased to hear this news and strongly urge the GIC to vote for reconsideration,” Friedman responded. “The fact that the GIC is so quickly reversing its position is a testament to the awesome effort of thousands of affected individuals across the Commonwealth who spoke up and made their voices heard.”
Regardless of the GIC’s decision to reconsider, Friedman and her Senate colleagues plan to continue to encourage the GIC to make more transparent and inclusive decisions about healthcare coverage. The Senate plans to hold an oversight hearing next week to review the GIC’s decision. Friedman will join her colleagues as Senate Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Service in presiding over the hearing, which will be held on Wednesday, January 31 at 11:00am in Gardner Auditorium at the State House.