As many of you know, last week the Group Insurance Commission (GIC) announced that the number of healthcare carriers available to active and retired GIC members would be reduced significantly. As of July 1, 2018, members and their families will no longer be able to get healthcare through Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Tufts Health Plan (except for Medicare retirees) and Fallon Health, a drastic change that will impact over 200,000 hard-working employees, retirees, and their dependents throughout the Commonwealth.
I’ve already begun to hear from 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. In addition, the decision will have a real impact on those insurers – all of whom are Massachusetts companies – and their employees who have been dropped as a result of this abrupt decision that took everyone by surprise. A big winner in this decision is Unicare, a for-profit insurance company based in Indiana. As you can imagine, I am 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.
In a state where health insurance is already expensive and, for some, difficult to access, we must make every effort to be transparent, careful and inclusive about the decisions we make. Upending over 54% of GIC members and their dependents without notice or concrete assurance that their healthcare, one of the most important aspects of their lives, will remain available and continuous is both unfair and troubling. Furthermore, what is truly driving up healthcare costs for the GIC are rising prescription drug costs. If this is true, then why are we choosing to once again burden the consumer rather than standing up against the pharmaceutical companies and addressing rising drug costs?
As state Senator, I will advocate for everyone throughout the 4th Middlesex and the Commonwealth who will be impacted by this change. In the days and weeks ahead, I plan to discuss this matter further with my colleagues and possibly file legislation to address this issue.