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BOSTON — State Rep. Robert S. Hargraves, R-Groton, is co-sponsoring reform legislation aimed at easing the burden of skyrocketing health care insurance costs on municipalities, taxpayers and employees. The bill was filed by Rep. Rachel Kaprielian, D-Watertown, and Sen. Richard Moore, D-Uxbridge, and is based on the work of the Municipal Health Insurance Working Group, an informal group of stakeholders who have been meeting under the leadership of John Hamill, chairman of Sovereign Bank New England, to forge compromise legislation to deal with escalating municipal health insurance costs.

Highlights of the proposal include:

* Creating a local option for cities and towns to purchase health insurance through the Group Insurance Commission (GIC), the agency that administers health insurance for state workers. Under the proposal, no community would be mandated to join the GIC.

* Utilizing “coalition bargaining” to bring stakeholders together to make health care decisions. Municipal leaders, public employee labor representatives and retiree representatives would all have a say in the process.

* “Contribution ratios,” the percentage of health insurance costs that are borne by employees or retirees, would be decided at the local level while the GIC negotiates with health care insurers and makes plan design decisions.

* Communities would be able to pay all costs associated with purchasing health insurance through the GIC, including a small administrative fee to the commission. Start-up costs to the commonwealth would be nominal as the proposal is structured to be self-financing.

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