BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Deval Patrick has signed a much debated municipal health care overhaul giving cities and towns more flexibility to make changes to public employee health insurance outside of the collective bargaining process.

The governor and legislative leaders say the plan allows communities to keep rising health care cost down while giving public workers a fair say in the process.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports

The governor signed the bill Tuesday after filing amendments aimed at giving greater protection to retirees and older employees who use health care services more frequently.

Union leaders and local officials say they have worked with lawmakers to create fair but meaningful changes. The bill was perhaps the most contentious part of the $30.6 billion state budget approved Monday.

Officials estimate municipalities could save $100 million by implementing the changes.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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