Senator Donoghue Pens Op-Ed in Support of Municipal Health-Care Reform

JULY 18, 2011

After a long and arduous process, the Massachusetts Legislature and Gov. Deval Patrick have come to an agreement and put in place municipal health-care reform. This reform was not an overnight process, and was the direct result of an open and honest debate.   Municipal health-care reform was on the table during the budget debate for the past two years. Unfortunately, legislators were not able to come to any sort of agreement on the direction the reform should take and nothing happened. This session the governor, House and Senate all worked tirelessly to develop the much-needed reform.   The goal of municipal health-care reform was cost savings for municipalities. We were aiming to provide cities and towns with a necessary tool to fight rising health-care costs while still allowing unions to have a voice in the process. The goal was never to destroy collective bargaining.   What we achieved was a smart reform that allows for local control to deal with communities' health-care costs. From conversations with the municipalities I represent, I believe $100 million in estimated statewide savings is entirely within reach. We have given our towns the opportunity to implement plan-design changes and save money. We are proud to have preserved local control in our reform.   It is no coincidence that municipalities, unions, as well as taxpayer groups, have all come out in support of the final version of this proposal. Cities and towns needed a tool to curb spiraling health-care costs and labor unions needed their voice to be heard during the process. No one got everything they asked for, but everyone got something that they needed.   Massachusetts has not been afraid to be a national leader of policy innovations. If we had been taking our cues from Wisconsin or Ohio, we would not have been the first state in the nation to provide universal health-care to our residents. Now, we must tackle the difficult task of containing health-care costs.   Municipal health-care reform is a testament to what is possible when everyone works together on Beacon Hill. Various proposals were debated and amended within the House, Senate, conference committee and governor's office. The final version was a result of genuine collaboration between the branches of government.   The battle over health-care costs is far from over and the next frontier is cost containment. In order to win this battle, it will require the high level of collaboration, cooperation, communication and hard work that went into municipal health-care reform. The private sector and the public sector have been severely impacted by skyrocketing health-care costs.   This is one of the most critical issues we face. Now is the time to roll up our sleeves, get to work and get results. The public expects this from us, and they deserve no less.   Read the full op-ed here.

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