- The proposed legislation changes the current retiree health care benefit for state and municipal employees. Currently, state employees need to work for 10 years only and then would be eligible to receive, upon retirement, the maximum benefit in terms of how much they would have to pay for their health insurance. With this proposal, for those not grandfathered in, the legislation would require that employees would have to work 30 years to receive this maximum benefit. This is much more difficult for employees who typically start their public higher education careers much later in life than those in K-12.
- Note: exemptions do exist for all current retirees and current employees close to retirement. See the attachment.
- I have copied a portion of the attached chart (immediately below) to clarify how this would affect future employees and all current employees not grandfathered in.
The bill would put in place a step system that would provide a greater percentage of premium coverage for longer-serving employees.
Currently, an employee receives the Maximum Available Benefit (MAB) once he or she retires. The percentage of the premium split varies from community to community and can be changed by a majority vote of its governing body. The state percentage is set as part of the annual budget and can be changed through the legislative process.
This bill would create the following percentage of MAB over time:
Years of Service: Premium Contribution
50 percent of premium
1/3 of the difference between 50 percent and the MAB
2/3 of the difference between 50 percent and MAB
30 Plus: 100 percent of MAB
- Higher education faculty and professional staff typically begin their careers at colleges and universities later in life. Most of our K-12 professionals begin their careers at a much younger age – right after completion of their 4 year degree.
- The professional positions at most of our colleges require a Master’s level degree to start, if not beyond, for the work that faculty and professional staff will be doing; and most full-time job descriptions require experience beyond education credentials. As a result, these faculty when hired will have to work later in life to earn the healthcare benefit because they started these public education positions later.
- Full-time faculty and staff positions are much harder to come by at our colleges and universities (far fewer jobs available than in the K-12 system), so more education, more experience, and more expertise mean more years spent in other careers and positions prior to starting work at one of our colleges. And since these positions are competitive, those with more credentials and more prior experience are more likely to be hired.
- Positions in our allied health fields, in particular, are filled by professionals who have often spent many years in the field (understandably so) before beginning a teaching career at our colleges. These and other mid-career employees would have difficulty receiving close to the maximum benefit.
- The proposal, because it is more harsh on higher ed. faculty and professional staff, is also viewed as a concern for the hiring and retention of quality educators:
- Many from the private sector earn less when they come to our colleges to teach or work as professional staff in our academic support programs – though some will be on Medicare at 65, so the healthcare cost will not impact them as greatly if they wait until then to retire. But reducing this benefit could encourage current educators to return to the private sector.
- Private sector workers who take on positions at our colleges and become vested in the SERS pension system also will be penalized by the federal government statutes of the Social Security law known as GPO/WEP which will reduce their S. S. earnings once they retire and draw on their MA state pension or their ORP assets. As a result, this benefit reduction can be a second concern or drawback for current educators or those from the private sector considering full-time positions at our colleges.