Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini.
Both the city administration and its unions are cheering a reversal by a state agency that now allows workers to choose from three additional health insurance plans.
In a story first reported by WHAV two weeks ago, city workers and retirees, forced last November to buy health insurance from the state, protested a decision by the Group Insurance Commission to lock them out of one of their preferred plans. Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini told city councilors Tuesday night commissioners at first refused to listen to complaints.
“They didn’t recognize any of us from Haverhill which really upset us.”
After the city agreed to switch to state plans, commissioners changed the rules, preventing employees and retires from choosing the Tufts Navigator Plan and the Fallon Select Plan. Another option, Harvard Pilgrim Independence Plan, had been frozen a year ago, the mayor said. Anthony Parolisi, second vice president of the Haverhill Education Association, told WHAV his members were upset they could not choose Blue Cross, but found consolation another plan would be suitable.
“We reassured our members that the big benefit in the GIC was choice—that they’d be fine whether they took the Tufts Navigator or not because they would have a choice.”
The union protested the elimination of the plans in a filing, while Fiorentini called the agency, it’s lawyer and board members. The mayor said he also notified Gov. Charles Baker, who previously headed Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. He announced the result Tuesday.
“So, today at the GIC, our voice was heard and they agreed to unfreeze those two plans for Haverhill employees and retirees.”
Fiorentini explained commissioners approved a one-time exemption for Haverhill employees to join any of the three frozen plans. After open enrollment ends, however, he said the city will be frozen out of the plans.