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Action needed on bill to protect preK-12 ESPs

MTA members are urged to contact their legislators to ask them to support legislation that would protect preK-12 education support professionals from losing their health insurance coverage during the summer. Legislators should be to urged to lobby House and Senate leaders for passage of either HB 518 or HB 4654.

Background

Unfortunately, each year one or more communities threaten to cut off health insurance coverage provided by school districts during July and August for those employed as ESPs. State law prohibits school districts from doing this to teachers, and both HB 518 and HB 4654 would extend that same protection to ESPs.

So far this year Harwich is the only district that has threatened to eliminate health benefits for ESPs, but others could follow. Passage of either of these bills is not only necessary for MTA members in Harwich, but also to ensure that no municipality or school district in the future can do this to paraprofessionals anywhere in Massachusetts.

When benefits are cut off in the summer, employees must pay much higher COBRA rates, which equal 102 percent of regular contributions. In addition, employees who are cut off have to take their chances on whether they can be re-insured in September if they have pre-existing medical conditions.

What Needs To Be Done

Contacting your own legislators by phone (617-722-2000), in person, by e-mail or by mail is important since the Legislature is in formal session for only four more months this year. A similar MTA bill was vetoed by Governor Romney at the end of the 2004 legislative session, and it is important to prevent that from happening again. Members' prompt action in asking legislators to lobby Senate and House leadership to pass either of these bills is crucial.