Blog Archives

Healthier Health Care: Local 49 makes the news

Dylan Ratigan

You may have noticed the AFL-CIO featured the remarkable story of Local 49’s health care success in a recent “innovators” article, “Bending the Health Care Cost Curve chart of costs.” If so, you’re not alone – that coverage of our methods for controlling health care costs drew the attention of MS-NBC’s Dylan Ratigan, and on April 9th Ratigan invited Health Fund Coordinator Martha LaFave and recently retired Trustee Jim Hansen to tell the story on national TV.

The truth is the “changes” are pretty common-sense to anybody who has to cover the costs. Martha and Jim were glad to have the opportunity to share the story of how focusing on evidence, prevention, and understanding who pays the bill has led to remarkable reductions in the cost of keeping 30,000 people healthy.

Here’s the video from Monday afternoon’s appearance:  Read the rest of this entry

2 Keys to Local 49’s Health Care System Success

AFL-CIO sees Local 49 Bending the Health Care Cost Curve

Operating Engineers Local 49 has managed something almost nobody else in the United States seems able to achieve. We’ve got the cost of health care coverage going down instead of up.

“We didn’t really have a choice,” said Jim Hansen, quoted in a recent AFL-CIO feature as identifying the central challenge to costs being that roughly 85% of the Local 49’s annual health care expenditures were drawn for only 17% of the 33,000 participating union members and their dependents — a ratio very similar to the nationwide average.

Local 49 and Health Systems Management Inc. developed a joint program to assist members, retirees, and their dependents covered under the Local 49 Self-Insured Health Insurance Plan when faced with serious medical concerns. But the plan starts with free preventative checkups, and that’s one of the two most important keys to keeping costs manageable. The objective is to offer an unmatched resource for patients and families, providing help and information on diagnosis and other treatment options.

Prevention and/or catching problems before fixing them gets more expensive is the common-sense first piece of the model: Read the rest of this entry

The Union Situation

What should be done about unions?

What have unions ever done for us?

  • Maternity leave
  • Sick leave
  • Weekends off
  • Overtime pay
  • Child Labor laws
  • Health insurance coverage
  • Workplace safety laws
  • Military leave
  • Paid holidays
The list goes on. If you want to read a longer list, not just the highlights, it’s been compiled by same people who brought that MoveOn video to our attention, the New Hampshire Labor News, for their recent article: “What Have American Unions Ever Done For Us?

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So-called “Right-to-Work” has dangerous side-effects

Hidden behind the name “Right-to-Work” are some serious problems.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s “Kaiser State Health Facts” compiled by the Urban Institute and Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured estimates based on the Census reveal alarming facts about health care coverage. Currently 9.6% of Minnesotans do not have health insurance, compared to 16.6% uninsured in states that have enacted various “Right-to-Work” statutes.

So-called “Right to Work” is, of course, meant to mislead voters, and perhaps even politicians. Everybody has a right to work. Nobody is ever forced to join a union, let alone to pay dues. Labor law already requires unions to represent non-members who seek redress for grievances, etc. The name sounds great; the reality is a little more disturbing.
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Health Care Success Story in MN, ND, & SD

MN2020: Union Finds Better Health Care Formula

We’re featured at Minnesota 2020 today, in a great article by Aaron Sinner: Union Finds Better Health Care Formula

In brief, Local 49 has solved one of the trickiest challenges of the U.S. health care crisis: we’re getting outstanding medical outcomes with effective cost control, and we’re getting ahead of the costs that continue to spiral out-of-control for almost every other group.

MN2020.orgThe story starts with a familiar situation. In 2004, the Operating Engineers, or 49ers as they’re known, were struggling to manage their rapidly rising health expenses.

“We were hemorrhaging,” said Jim Hansen, Local 49’s recently retired Health and Welfare Trustee. When the union negotiated compensation increases, the numbers suggested it needed to invest the entirety of the raise in health insurance…
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