Telling us what we already pretty much knew, here’s the Globe:
Health care spending for Massachusetts communities has nearly doubled since 2001, squeezing town budgets and forcing cutbacks in public safety and government services and leading to calls for property tax increases.
Employee healthcare costs in cities and towns shot up about 85 percent , from an average $2.5 million to $4.7 million, from 2001 to 2006 , according to a Globe analysis of budgets from 324 communities , using data from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.
Ouch, ouch, ouch. I’m getting less patient with the reasoning of some of those who don’t support forcing — yes, forcing — municipal unions into the state’s insurance program (GIC), which has had lower increases. Yeah, we’ve got significant union buy-in to the 70% proposal (like from the teachers); yeah, I know no one (including Gov. Patrick, or my senator, Pat Jehlen) wants to take on the police and firefighters’ unions, but … come on. This is ridiculous. How can the governor advocate for property tax relief and still put up with massive cost increases year after year? And on the other hand: How can the firefighters and cops blithely advocate chucking more and more money at their insurance companies, at the expense of, say, hiring more firefighters and cops?
It’s just a zero-sum game, folks: Push the unions into the GIC, or raise taxes/cut services, with no forseeable end in sight. Decide.
Update: … Oh yes, and this also shows how critical it is to address the central issue of health care costs in general. Costs can only be addressed if legislators decide not to wet their pants before the mighty PhRMA, hospital and biotech lobbies — again. I’m not going to put odds on that.