Friday, June 18, 2021

City to Retirees: Private health care ─ Take it or leave it - Thursday, June 17 - 7:00 PM


*** Please forward widely ***

City to Retirees: Private health care
─ Take it or leave it

NYC government retirees to be forced to switch from public Medicare to a
private Medicare Advantage Plan

Thursday, June 17 - 7:00 PM EST

You can join this Zoom event by phone or computer.
Closed captions will be available.
Event will be recorded, with video link sent to all registrants.
Peter Arno, PhD, Director of Health Policy Research, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Naomi Zewde, PhD, Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management, Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, City University of New York (CUNY)
Betsy Rosenthal, MD, retired dermatologist and Board member, NY Metro Chapter, PNHP
Alec Pruchnicki, MD, geriatrician and Board member, NY Metro Chapter, PNHP
Bill Friedheim, Chair, Retiree Chapter, Professional Staff Congress-CUNY and Professor of History, Borough of Manhattan Community College/CUNY
Leonard Rodberg, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Urban Studies, Queens College/CUNY & Research Director, NY Metro Chapter, PNHP
New York City, in an effort to save money on its employee benefits, is negotiating with the City labor unions to move its retirees and their family members from public Medicare to a private Medicare Advantage plan. They did not consult, or even inform, the 250,000 retirees and their families before adopting this policy change, which will require them to accept a private Medicare Advantage Plan with its limited choice of doctors and hospitals, as well as its co-pays and requirements for prior insurer approval of many treatments. Medicare Advantage plans are a good deal for healthy seniors, but they can become expensive and restrictive with limited options when serious illness strikes.
Both the Mayor and the City Council have previously declared their support for the NY Health Act, which would create a publicly-funded health care system and save the City billions of dollars. This progressive legislation which, for the first time, has majority support in both NY State Senate and Assembly, would provide all New Yorkers, and those who work full-time in New York, with more comprehensive and affordable health care than any now enjoy. It would expand far beyond what Medicare now covers including hearing, vision, dental, and long-term care. By eliminating the expensive private insurance middleman, it would save New York State (including NYC) billions and contain future costs as well.
This forum will examine the City’s plan for its retirees and contrast it with what will be possible with the New York Health Act.
Stay safe and keep acting for life-saving change,
Oliver Fein, MD
Board Chair, Physicians for a National Health Program – New York Metro
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook or the hashtags #PassNYHealth #NYHealthAct #MedicareForAll!

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

UFT News Today- Retiree Election Vote Count at 52 Bway, Delegate Assembly votes on hybrid meetings -with restrictions

Liz Perez--Motivates--Was a lot of discussion and compromise. Want all members to be engaged and this addresses that. Members have a choice to come in person with ability to vote, speak, present and amend motions. Members from home will be able to speak, vote and ask questions. Want to make sure all members are engaged. 

Barr--People participating via telephone will not be able to make motions, Will have option to appear in person. 

Camille Eady--Rises in support. Members have been supportive. Flexibility unparalleled. Will give opportunity for those uncomfortable with appearing in person.

Mike Schirtzer

--Favor of option, thinks participation has been great, opposes motion, disenfranchises members. Want everyone at 52 but not all will fit. Some can't make it, hybrid should have all with full privileges.

Patty Crispino--Calls question.

Arthur reports from the UFT Executive Board June 14, 2021--Hybrid DA Proposal

"Perhaps DOENUTS has it right comparing the UFT to the Republicans."


At the UFT Executive Board this evening, the Board voted 94-6 to create a two-tiered hybrid system for Delegate Assemblies for the next school year. Those who can make it to 52 Broadway in Manhattan will get full rights to vote on motions, to ask questions, to make motions, to second motions, to move motions, to speak in a debate, to raise points of order, to raise parliamentary inquiries, to ask for points of information, to propose amendments, and more. On the other hand, those who are remote will get the right to listen to President Mulgrew filibuster, to speak in a debate, and then vote secretly. If you are a Delegate who is a parent who can't get to lower Manhattan by 4:15 P.M., or a Delegate who is incapacitated and or may have an emergency at school or home, Mulgrew, and the Unity Caucus are denying these Delegates some basic rights. 

It is 2021; the technology exists to put a system in place so that those attending remotely for whatever reason have the same basic rights as those attending a meeting in person.

Women make up the vast majority of the UFT membership and parents with child care responsibilities are probably a big share of Delegates but if they have to be remote for the Delegate Assembly, they get second-class status.

94-6 is a massive victory for democracy at an EB meeting where 100% ran on Unity slate. Mike led the charge.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021
I'm about to leave for 52 Broadway for the retiree chapter election vote count where Retiree Advocate is challenging Unity Caucus. 70 thousand are eligible to vote but expect at most 20-25,000, it even that. RA usually gets 20% - and since this edition is mostly about the DA, we theoretically should get a portion of the 300 Unity people elected to the DA - and I would be a delegate again. But winner take all by Unity disenfranchises the people who vote for us -- dues taxation without


If we get an uptick in votes it will be due to the attempt by the union to knock us out of Medicare and into a privatized program. Leadership will notice.
I'm going to be in the city for a few days, with a visit tomorrow to the Mus of Nat History so I won't be reporting directly but will inform James with results at the ICEUFT blog.

DA goes hybrid but with different rules for remote

A controversy erupted in the past few days over the proposal to have hybrid meetings next year at the DA (beginning in October) but limits on those who are remote. And of course it is always important to track Unity hacks who call the question to kill debate. Leroy Barr actually kept debate open because what does it cost to allow people to blow off steam when you know you have the room? The final vote was 94-6, which is actually pretty good at an EB meeting where at most we expect Mike Schirtzer to be the only independent voice that might challenge the union line -- I wonder if Unity will allow him to run with him again in next year's election? An irony would be for him to run with a united opposition slate and knock off the Unity high school EB people as we did in 2016.

The basic message: if you have something to say or a reso to offer, get your ass down to 52 Broadway. I have mixed feelings as someone who had gotten his ass down to 52 at almost every DA since 1994. But then again, I'm nuts, did not have kids nor did I come in from the Bronx or who knows where?

Mike Schirtzer, who was originally elected to the EB along with Arthur on the MORE slate in 2016 and after the MORE purges ran on Unity in 2019, opposed the motion while Arthur supported it. I agree with both of them.

[By the way, with UFT chapter elections ending this week, the 2021 general UFT election season opens -- I have loads of ideas on that in future posts.]

The technology exists to allow non attendees to play an active role. A key is that live DAs generally were attended by 5-600 people out of a potential 3500. And don't forget those 300 Unity retirees who vote as a block. Not all attend but enough to influence any vote. If RA had delegates they would team up with other voices of dissent. And RA people have decades - even a half century of UFT activism behind them.

That attendance is pretty weak. Allowing people to take an active part remotely would make the DA a more viable body. Mike raised the point that if you emphasize being there, at least hold meetings in a space that can accommodate more than 20% of potential attendees - before the union moved to 52 DAs were held in schools that could accomate a lot more and even in giant hotel ball rooms for contract votes.

But big attendance is a threat to the leadership which knows full well that it can get Unity people there, along with a small opposition and sees more participation as a danger. There were a few instances where they lost some important votes and had to maneuver the body.

In person still important for activists
The small number of activists in the UFT do get there and for them I believe in person, even if they had full rights remotely, is still important for organizing purposes.

My goal of course was to be there to hand out something since I could not participate once I retired in 2002 and was no longer a delegate. I saw the DA as a space to meet and greet people and try to influence their views. Where else do union people from schools gather monthly? Of course it is mostly Unity Caucus people but there were always enough independents - in fact Ed Notes morphed into ICEUFT Caucus as an outcome of my meeting people at the DA where I handed out the paper every meeting starting in 1998.

So I get the idea that being there is a key if you want to participate. This is especially true for the relatively tiny activist opposition to Unity. 

One of my biggest gripes with MORE over the years was the sporadic interest in using the DA as an effective organizing tool. My repeated attempts to formulate a newsletter that would attract readers with some real news and analysis vs caucus propaganda were rejected and I had to revert to Ed Notes or other vehicles. I knew people wanted to read stuff I was putting out over the decades because many who recognized me would come over to ask for a copy.

I am still floating an idea of forming an independent delegate group as an uncaucus thingy where participants from all caucuses plus independents would work together at the DA -- an idea I floated in MORE for years until I have up. I have had some interest from a few people -- the idea would be to put out a newsletter along the lines of ed notes -- I would volunteer to edit it.

 The more I think of how the UFT operates -- at best center-right Democratic Party, the more I see them as almost acting like Republicans. They oppose universal health care and support private health insurance and their massive profits.

DOENUTS is thinking the same way: UFT suppresses voting rights -- sound familiar?

Mitch McConnell, confident in his chinless repose, shocked the world tonight as he strode to the podium of UFT headquarters' Shanker Hall during their weekly Executive Board meeting.  After several uncomfortable moments of deafening silence from the 100 member UFT governing body,  McConnell proceeded to give a fiery speech which included a ringing endorsement of the UFT's new rules for remote Delegate Assembly next year.

"Should I register as a Republican now?", wondered another confused member after casting her vote. A colleague nearby just shrugged her shoulders in response and offered, "I guess, just wait for the email?". 

"This is incredible" said another upset member, "I have to watch them take away voting rights for people on TV and now my own union wants to make sure that duly elected delegates are second class representatives in their own Delegate Assembly. I can't believe these two people are working together"

Mitch McConnell Walks Into a Union Hall ... and approves

Eric Adams and class size - Update

Adams said at a Citizens Budget Commission forum in February. “You could have one great teacher that’s in one of our specialized high schools to teach three to 400 students who are struggling in math, with the skillful way that they’re able to teach.”

“I cannot believe that Maya’s opponent, Mr. Eric Adams, actually thinks that you can teach three or 400 students in a class virtually,’” Dromm said. “Has he ever been in a New York City public school classroom? That is impossible.”

--- Politico NY

Leonie take on Eric Adams’ proposals on class size, remote learning & year-round schooling; his attempt to take them back after controversy erupted & video of Maya Wiley and Danny Dromm responses to the controversy.

 I did a satire: Eric Adams' 400 Blows on class size - why stop at 400? let's make it a massive zoom party and sell off schools for condos


And the full Politico article below:

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Demands - No gatekeepers, All access to providers - from COMRO - Council of Municipal Retiree Organizations of New York City

 Access to all of our current providers at the existing Medicare rates

COMRO Council of Municipal Retiree Organizations of New York City

                                                c/o Professional Staff Congress/CUNY 

OFFICERS:                                           61 Broadway, 15th Floor

Stuart Eber, President                              New York, NY 10006

Armando Mandes First Vice-Chair

Edward Hysyk, Second Vice-Chair

Eileen Moran, Secretary


June 9, 2021

Commissioner Renee Campion           Chairperson Harry Nespoli                Martin Scheinman

Office of Labor Relations                   Municipal Labor Committee.              322 Main Street

22 Cortland Street                               125 Barclay Street, Room 540.           Port Washington, NY

New York, NY 10007                         New York, NY 10007                         11050

Re: Medicare Advantage Plan

Dear Commissioner Campion, Chairperson Nespoli and Arbitrator Scheinman:

The Council of Municipal Retiree Organizations (COMRO) requests that the Municipal Labor Committee and NYC directly and publicly address the concerns of 200,000 retirees and our 40,000 dependents over the pending proposal to move retiree health care coverage from Medicare/ Senior Care to Medicare Advantage Passive PPO. Retirees affected by these proposed changes have not been provided adequate and timely information nor has there been an opportunity to discuss the vendors’ proposals in the context of our current plans.

This is the only way the various union delegate assemblies can make informed decisions about our health care today and theirs in the future.

The City and the MLC must provide in writing to all retirees a chart that compares the existing plans to the proposed plans. The chart must include the following benefits that we already have.  These benefits are essential to the health and welfare of NYC retirees and their dependents:

1.Access to all of our current providers at the existing Medicare rates even if they are not part of the vendor’s network and at no extra cost to us.  (Despite assurances that any provider who accepts traditional Medicare will be reimbursed by the plan, the inverse is not true.  For a variety of reasons, some physicians are unwilling to deal with any Advantage plans due to the difficulties of billing and reimbursement as non- physician


Medicare claims are sent to Traditional CMS.  Out of Network physicians would have to submit their claims to the Medicare Advantage Plan)

2.Access to all hospitals and specialty hospitals across the country that currently accept Medicare. This is particularly relevant to patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering and Hospital for Special Surgery.

3. No gatekeepers permitted to evaluate our physician referrals to specialists, surgical procedures from our doctors, physician orders for CT, MRI, ancillary services and other treatment plans which are between the retiree and the physician.   Retirees must remain in control of their own health care and not have it dictated by an insurance company that requires prior authorization for services.  We do not have these barriers now, and we do not want them in the future. Gatekeepers can delay or deny our necessary health care, interfere with appropriate treatment options and can cause permanent damage and even death.


4.     How the City and the MLC will evaluate the provisions of the contract and quality of care during the term of the contract.


5.     Guarantees of maintaining the current costs to the retiree.

We look forward to your detailed responses.

Please contact me at (917) 673-4917 or for further discussion.


Stuart Eber

Stuart Eber, President

cc: Armando Mandes

      Harry Greenberg

      Edward Hysyk

      Eileen Moran





Videos Updated: Daniel Alicea, Amanda Vender, Shino Tanikawa, Danny Dromm at Jackson Heights NYC KidsPac Class Size/Maya Wiley Rally

Updated Tuesday June 15, 2021

Mayoral candidate Maya Wiley has been getting increasing support from progressives in NYC, and NYC KidsPac, a group that has focused on educational issues, has endorsed Wiley. In a recent poll she popped into second place ahead of Yang and behind Adams and Garcia.

Sunday, June 13th, a Wiley rally was held on a street corner in Jackson Heights to support her lowering class size initiatives. 

 She was the final speaker:

Daniel Alicea, a special ed middle school teacher in Far Rockaway, who has become a prominent voice in NYC educational and union politics, was the first speaker and made a powerful statement. 

[See NYC Parents blog: Adams' comments on class size, remote learning and year-round schooling; and Maya Wiley and Danny Dromm on the ensuing controversy.]

NYC Kids PAC endorsed Maya Wiley for Mayor a month ago -- in part, because of her strong advocacy for smaller classes and other progressive education policies.

Since then, Maya has also been endorsed by AOC, Diane Ravitch, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Representatives Jamaal Bowman, Nydia Velasquez, Hakeem Jeffreys and many other trusted leaders & organizations and has been quickly rising in the polls. 

 Here are the videos of Amanda Vender, Shino Tanikawa and Danny Dromm who followed Daniel. Wiley clip to come after processing.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Eric Adams' 400 Blows on class size - why stop at 400? let's make it a massive zoom party and sell off schools for condos

Recent reports on Adams' comments last year that new technology would allow teachers to cover 400 students. I have a better idea that will save a mint.

There are a million kids in the NYC system, give or take 50 thousand. So if a teacher can handle 400 why not make it a hundred thousand. Hire ten teachers at a million bucks apiece and shift to complete remote system. Use the money saved to get top level tech for the kids. Even pay for daycare centers for them. 

Each teacher gets a staff for support - model the call centers in India.

This preps us for the next pandemic and may even prevent a spread.  

Transportation systems will be relieved and traffic too  no more yellow school buses to block your street. 

Now what if we need some in person events? Just use stadiums - Imagine Yankee stadium as a classroom -- and you'd reduce class size from 100K to 50k.

And best of all -- sell off all school real estate for condos. Can I get a penthouse in Stuyvesant?

Today - Rally for Smaller Classes and Maya Wiley -


Dear Norm --

Please join us at a Rally for Maya Wiley and Smaller Classes!  

When: Sunday, June 13 at 10:40 AM

Where: Jackson Heights, Queens at 81 St. and 34 Ave.

Map here. Nearest subway: 82nd street (#7 line) or Roosevelt Av/Jackson Heights (#7/E/F/M/R).

As you know, NYC Kids PAC endorsed Maya Wiley for Mayor a month ago -- in part, because of her strong advocacy for smaller classes and other progressive education policies.

Since we endorsed her, Maya has also been endorsed by AOC, Diane Ravitch, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Representatives Jamaal Bowman, Nydia Velasquez, Hakeem Jeffreys and many other trusted leaders & organizations and has been quickly rising in the polls.

Please join us and bring signs if you can! You can also volunteer for her campaign here.

2. Today is the first day of early voting. You can find your polling site here. You can also download and/or print all our endorsements on one handy page to take to the polls.  

3. Our friends at Class Size Matters have prepared a handy guide with charts comparing all the leading mayoral candidate's positions on education, from charters to Mayoral control to class size. Please check it out. It includes a reference to what Eric Adams claimed at a mayoral forum last fall: that good teachers can teach 300-400 students remotely. If we’ve learned one thing from the pandemic, is that remote learning with large classes doesn’t work.

Hope to see you this morning in Jackson Heights!




Thursday, June 10, 2021

AOC Slams Manchin as Chris Hayes ducks, March on Manchin - Multi-racial fusion coalition - Rev. William Barber: Manchin ABANDONED West Virginia - Manchin tool of corporate interests

Corporate money has a very tight grip on both parties - AOC on Chris Hayes - who changes the subject to attack McConnell - Dems are off the table for criticism.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

AOC appeared on MSNBC, the bastion of corp Dems with Chris Hayes and slammed the corp Dems while Hayes looked on like a deer in the headlights -- he made no comment and changed the subject. She exposes Manchin on his bi-partisanship as bullshit -- he has voted for non-bipartisan bills in the past. He is using it as cover for his corporate sponsor. She points out Koch  and The Heritage Foundation from the right are cheering for him out loud. "They are doing a victory lap over Manchin's refusal to change on the filibuster."

Rev. Barber gets it. You can't build coalitions by focusing only on race but you can on the intersection of race and class. He replies to a question about how to build such a coalition in the heaviest pro-Trump state. He is building a coalition of all races based on common interests in one of the poorest states. The corp Dems silently cheer Manchin for obstruction in the interests of the corporations. That goes a far way to explain why Dems are dirt in a state that they used to dominate. Dems have abandoned them.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Why Dems Lose - Corporate Dem Crook Update - Gottheimer Rakes In Cash From Rent-a-Bank Practitioners He Supports

Here's a clue as to why Dem party, controlled by Corp Dems, is despised by so many and is getting nothing done, even with control of all 3 branches. Despite the attacks on the squad coming from the right - I have friends who claim Biden is under their control - LOL - progressives play a tiny roll, though with a big megaphone, which often doesn't get you any real power.

By the way -- I also need to remind you that the UFT/Unity Caucus power elite is totally on board with corp dems and if the progressives were ever to primary Gottheimer, the UFT would support him - but of course they don't endorse in Jersey.

David Dyan American Prospect is an often must read. We know the Republicans are scum but we need to remind ourselves often that so are many - if not most - Dems. Just look at the mayoral race.

Gottheimer Rakes In Cash From Rent-a-Bank Practitioners He Supports
Yesterday, I wrote about how House Democrat and co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) is trying to block a resolution that would eliminate a Trump-era rule allowing predatory lenders to partner with federally chartered banks to evade state interest-rate caps and charge whatever they want for consumer loans. I noted that Gottheimer is one of Wall Street’s go-to Democrats, and that he’s raised over $6 million from the finance, insurance, and real estate sectors over the course of his short congressional career.

 What I didn’t know then is how the small group of companies that specifically use this tactic of laundering loans through banks to charge higher interest rates have funneled support to Gottheimer. I did mention that Opportunity Financial, an online lender that charges 160 percent interest on its loans in 24 states thanks to a partnership with FinWise Bank, gave a total of $1,500 in two installments from its political action committee to Gottheimer in the 2019–2020 election cycle. The CEO of OppLoans, Jared Kaplan, personally gave Gottheimer $500.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Please help kids get smaller classes in last few days of the Legislative session!


Norm -- I wanted to share with you my latest Gotham Gazette piece co-authored with Wendy Lecker of the Education Law Center about why this year, to do right by our kids, the Legislature must restart the clock on NYC's obligation to lower class size by passing S.6296 and A. 7447.

We have only four more days before the Legislature closes for the year.  Please call the Legislative leaders today, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, and ask them to bring these bills to the floor for a vote.  

Call Speaker Heastie at 518-455-3791; here is what you can say when you speak to his staff or leave a message:

Hi, my name is x and my phone number is y. I am calling to urge Speaker Heastie to bring A. 7447 to the floor, the bill that would require NYC to update and implement a five-year class size reduction plan.   The state’s highest court said that smaller classes would be necessary to provide NYC student their constitutional right to a sound, basic education. Now that we are getting full state funding, NYC should be requiredto lower class size in our schools. I would appreciate a call back to let me know Speaker Heastie’s position on this important bill and whether he will allow the members to vote on it.

Call Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins at (518) 455-2585, and say:

Hi, my name is x and my phone no. is y. I am calling to urge Leader Stewart Cousins to bring S.6296 to the floor for a vote, the bill that would require NYC to update and implement a five-year class size reduction plan.   The state’s highest court said that smaller classes were necessary to provide NYC student with their constitutional right to a sound, basic education. Now that we are getting full state funding, NYC should be obligated to lower class size in our schools. I would appreciate a call back to let me know her position on this important bill and whether she will allow the members to vote on it.

Finally, if you have time, please put the info here on our google doc so we can track who has been called and what response if any you’ve gotten from their staff.

As always, thanks for your support, Leonie

Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters


Monday, June 7, 2021

MUST READ - The Intercept - New York City Unions Prepare to Shift Retirees Off Medicare

This article by Rachel Cohen from The Intercept is one of the best I've read on the bait and switch to Medicare Advantage as it exposes the flaws.What it doesn't address is WHY are unions doing this? And it you are far from retirement be worried - cost savings on your backs will be next. The goal of the Dems, Rep and unions seem to be to wipe out public insurance plans: the UFT is “generally at the beginning” of the trend.


Generally a well-balanced read, Ms. Cohen's.  One fact wrong:  managed care, in the form of HMOs (the first form of Medicare Advantage) began in the 1970s, not 2000, then was formalized in a 1997 Budget Act and revised thereafter.  They are now what's known as Part C, though that term is not much used. "Original Medicare" was set up in 1965 as Parts A and B.  MAs manage Parts A and B in private structures and are required by law to offer nothing less than Original Medicare. In many ways they offer more.
     Secondly, Ms Cohen is not factually wrong here, but makes it seem as if there's something wrong with having to get a referral for specialized care.  Primary physicians can handle a lot of ailments. People frequently self-diagnose an illness and traipse off to a specialist when the primary could have handled it. Not only that, once the referral is made to the specialist, they don't have to keep visiting the primary to get additional care from that specialist.   When the referral period is "up," they just have to call the primary for another referral. The primary's involvement becomes virtually nil. And what's more:  the primary is keeping records of your whole health picture, which is not a specialist's job. There's an advantage to having one doctor know the whole of a patient instead of just his sinus cavities....
UA (https://underassault.blogspot.com

Here are key excerpts with the full article below the break.

One study Meyers worked on found that Medicare Advantage beneficiaries were more likely to enter lower quality nursing homes than those on traditional Medicare. Other research by Meyers found that about 30 percent of Medicare Advantage plans have narrow primary care networks, and even more have narrow psychiatry as well as mental and behavioral health options. Limiting provider options is “one way plans can save money,” Meyers said.

“We’ve gotten some verbal assurances from the unions, like Mulgrew said Memorial Sloane Kettering would accept Medicare Advantage, but let’s see that in writing,” said Eber. “No one has given us a written explanation of how the city expects to save $600 million, yet the vendor is going to make a profit and retirees won’t pay the price.”

studies have shown that individuals in Medicare Advantage plans tend to utilize fewer health care services, including preventative care. “This suggests that some of the tools that Medicare Advantage plans are using to control costs are pretty blunt instruments,”

This past spring, in an annual federally mandated analysis on Medicare, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission wrote that “the current state of quality reporting in [Medicare Advantage] is such that the Commission can no longer provide an accurate description of the quality of care.”

“They’ll be saving money on the backs of retirees.”

A deputy commissioner from the Mayor’s Office of Labor Relations acknowledged that such pre-approval from insurance would likely be required for municipal retirees under a shift to Medicare Advantage. Cost savings often come from making it harder for patients to access services.

Diane Archer, president of Just Care, which offers health and financial information to seniors, said if New York City moves forward with the shift, “they’ll be saving money on the backs of retirees” who need expensive care. Corporations and unions nationwide have been able to avoid an outcry over similar cost-cutting moves “because the majority of people they’re moving are in good health and value what appears to be additional benefits; they generally don’t understand the financial and administrative barriers to care they will face when they need costly care.”

 “Unions can negotiate something better for their retirees than people can get on their own in the Medicare marketplace, but I don’t think it will be anywhere as good as what they have now,” said Archer. “Mulgrew explains that people will still have premium-free care, but he doesn’t explain that they could have out-of-pocket costs that will be prohibitive if they develop a complex condition.”

New York City labor groups aren’t the first unions to look to Medicare Advantage as a way to cut costs. Experts predict that there could be a marked increase across the country over the next few years as local budgets come under more strain.

Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works, noted that Medicare Advantage is being considered at a time when organized labor is under attack from multiple levels, including over pensions and retiree health care. Unlike traditional Medicare, Medicare Advantage invests heavily in sales representatives who market their products nationwide. “They always have an answer, but it’s just like if you’ve ever been pitched to buy a timeshare,” Lawson said. “Yeah, those people make a good pitch; it doesn’t change the fact that it’s just a hustle.

the UFT is “generally at the beginning” of the trend.

Health care researchers say it’s not necessarily true that New York City retirees will be worse off under Medicare Advantage, but the lack of good data makes it hard to be confident. “Surprisingly little is known about how much Medicare Advantage enrollees pay out of pocket for the services they receive overall, across plans, according to health condition, or in comparison to beneficiaries in traditional Medicare (with or without supplemental coverage),” wrote Kaiser Family Foundation researchers in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2018.

Jason Abaluck, an economist at Yale whose research found great variation among Medicare Advantage plans, told The Intercept the existing evidence “is not completely clear that [New York City retirees] will not have a more efficient plan and of the same quality” under Medicare Advantage.


New York City Unions Prepare to Shift Retirees Off Medicare

To cut costs, public sector unions are planning a switch to Medicare Advantage, a privatized program whose impact on care is not well understood.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Mayoral Campaign -- Garcia Rises, Stringer Gets Hit Again, Morales Drama, Part 4 - Top aide jumps to Wiley, AOC And Bowman endorse , Turmoil is ‘Déjà Vu’ for Some Ex-Staff, Was Morales knifed in the back?

The Mayoral race is looking like the Belmont. A long mile and a half to go. Am I going to get canceled for comparing the candidates to horses? With Wiley taking a great leap, I expected some quick hit on her. And sure enough:

Lee Fang

Maya Wiley, the NYC mayoral candidate who wants to cut $1 billion per year from police, pays for private security on her block in upscale Prospect Park South. A neighbor recounted her demands for more aggressive NYPD policing after her partner was mugged.

This will be front page of the NY Post. But actually, Lee Fang misrepresents what the article was saying --- but Wiley will also have to respond and it will be a tough ride as she tries to thread a police reform needle.


Garcia is a sudden convert to the cause of charter schools, which have become, over the last two decades, emblems of the neoliberal project.... Garcia had no history discussing any kind of education issues before this mayoral race. She’s made it clear, thanks either to her genuine belief in charters or her awareness that rich people who support charters will donate to local campaigns, that’s where she stands now.... The editorial board[NYT] , which prides itself on its liberalism, did not seem to know or care that Garcia’s views on housing are not very different than Bloomberg’s—or even Adams or Yang’s, for that matter. Voters who take their cues from the Times may not care either. .... Ross Barkan,

Garcia/Wiley rising, Yang/Stringer/Morales falling.

There are a few election lanes - the left/progressive with Wiley seizing control as Stringer/Morales fall, the right with Adams/Yang and the neo-liberal right-center with Garcia whom the NYT and Daily News endorsed. Reminder to Trumpies: The NYT is NOT LEFT. The business community apparently now sees Yang as a joke, incapable of managing this city. Capable management is at the top rung now which is helping Garcia and even keeping Stringer alive -- even from the business community which sees him as taking a progressive lane for this election and would move center if he wins. 

Ross points to Garcia on housing, which as we saw with Bloomberg who built built built often half empty housing while ignoring infrastructure to go with it, allowing public housing to go under in the hope that unliveable conditions will drive people to move to Florida, will make the city even more affordable and when there are no people, there is no commerce. Bloomberg is a major cause of homelessness and the city housing crisis.

Someone [Garcia] who believes landlords with millions of dollars in equity experience struggles similar to what tenants, many paying most of their income to rent, endure is not going to side with the working class. Garcia is a Park Slope home-owner, which likely makes her a millionaire on paper. The suffering of a city tenant isn’t something she can possibly know. And it’s not clear she wants to know it. It’s a myth that small, hard-working landlords control most of the housing stock in the five boroughs. They are not lavishly funding the Real Estate Board of New York.

Mulgrew ignores Garcia threat

It was interesting that the left and center occupied by Mulgrew have told people not to rank Yang or Adams but do not include Garcia who may echo Bloomberg more than anyone. Tell me again, which side is the UFT leadership really on when it ignores Garcia on the charter cap?

Ross Barkan:

For all the revolutions in politics today—the rise of the democratic socialists, the ascendance of AOC—the neoliberal approach, in municipal politics at least, has not left us. As predicted in the 1970s, CUNY never would be tuition-free again. The stock transfer tax, effectively ended in 1981, would not come back. The massive affordable housing projects of midcentury and earlier—Parkchester, Electchester, the Coops, Stuyvesant Town, Peter Cooper Village, the vast tracts of NYCHA housing—would be no more, replaced with market-rate development that would, from time to time, parcel out units to a few middle-class residents.
Barkan digs deeper than we've seen on Garcia - who in some ways is an empty vessel too - moving her politics to where the money is:
[Garcia's] platform has several progressive proposals.... But there is another Garcia, a truer Garcia—a manager, a technocrat, a neoliberal skeptical of the most fundamental safeguards against the violence of the free-market in a city that is chasing out its working class and poor. She doesn’t hide this, exactly—she’s a blunt person—but it comes out only with enough prodding. Garcia is a sudden convert to the cause of charter schools, which have become, over the last two decades, emblems of the neoliberal project. If government-run education is said to be failing, why not have the public pay for private schools and circumvent those nasty teachers’ unions? Charter schools did not exist in New York for almost the entirety of the 20th century. Now, we’ve been conditioned to believe that a school system can’t function without them. Yang and Adams are supporters of charters too, and the left-wing Dianne Morales actually founded one. Garcia had no history discussing any kind of education issues before this mayoral race. She’s made it clear, thanks either to her genuine belief in charters or her awareness that rich people who support charters will donate to local campaigns, that’s where she stands now.

Morales dramedy continues, as former employees are pro and con

The Morales dramedy continues to resonate as some top Morales people defected to Wiley so quickly, some are thinking conspiracy.  Dianne Morales’ NYC Mayoral Campaign Turmoil is ‘Déjà Vu’ for Some Ex-Staff - THE CITY

THE CITY spoke to more than a dozen of Morales’ former staffers about their experiences at Phipps under her. Most wished to remain anonymous so they could speak freely without professional consequences. The people broadly fell into two camps: those who had been working at Phipps before Morales took over and detailed how she fostered a work environment rife with anxiety and mistrust, and those who praised what they called her inspiring, visionary leadership. The latter camp was made up overwhelmingly of employees she hired. ‘[It was] like the cult of Dianne.’ Overall, all the former employees agreed: Morales was charismatic, extremely smart and fiercely loyal to her people....
The progressive Democrat’s current woes reflect past management issues, some ex-employees said, while others defended her as a strong leader. Morales charges she’s being undermined, but is “managing the disruption.”

Here are parts 1-3 where I pin some of the blame people connected to DSA. Ross Barkan led the "Morales is a faux leftist campaign." Part 3 digs deep --

There is no question that the implosion of the Morales campaign and the second charge against Scott Stringer, this one 30 years later - I know, I know, sometimes things need to marinate - have boosted Wiley to the top of the progressives. And yesterday with the endorsements of AOC and Bowman (both of whom had pulled their Stringer endorsements) Wiley now has an unencumbered progressive lane since even of people vote for Stringer or Morales I can see Wiley will be in the top 4 and will get the votes of progressives as they drop off, though according to Barkan, Garcia is fooling enough progressives to deny Wiley. (I was sort of shocked to see some lefty teacher friends choose Wiley and Garcia and some Wiley and Adams -- like the hard left NY State Nurses (NYSNA). A head scratcher.

I think Yang has crested and you see that the business community is not interested in him. The leader is still Adams and I'm going to bet that going into the final week it will be Adams, Garcia and Wiley maybe pulling even with Yang - a sort of right, center and left lineup. I might have actually ranked Garcia if she didn't take the strongest pro-charter stance of them all and joined parents who were demanding schools be open no matter what.

If Wiley starts rising quickly in the polls, I expect somewhere, some way a political hit on her -- some kid she knew in 6th grade will accuse her of grabbing his balls.

More historical perspective from Ross Barkan:

Since 1975, every mayor of New York City has been something of a neoliberal. These men may have varied by party or vision—a couple hewing left while others took a more ruthless approach—but all ultimately governed under the constraints foisted upon them by the era we still live in today. The difference between the left-leaning Democrats (David Dinkins and Bill de Blasio) and the oligarch-friendly Republicans (Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg) could only be so dramatic when a certain segment of the power elite was determining the course of events...The social democratic era, buoyed by New Deal largesse under Fiorello La Guardia and continuing through a number of liberal Republican and Democratic mayors, abruptly came to a halt when the city nearly went bankrupt. The crisis mattered because it would reorder the city’s politics indefinitely: instead of expanding the social safety net and creating new services for the working class and poor, the new aim of the modern city would be to make it as attractive as possible to capital. Economic growth would be the new religion, with tax breaks showered on wealthy men like Donald Trump....

Some sidelights

I was out with a bunch of old colleagues and one of them was ranting against teachers in general and claimed gold-bricking -- that they just didn't want to go into work and should have been made to and fired if they didn't. A former chapter leader, yet. Oy! There's troubling times ahead

Stringer probably did something. Men are sleaze, me included.
Did he pat the ass of an 18 year old waitress working for him when he was 32 and then sort of ask her out and plant unwanted kisses which she rejected - I think that is very possible. Look, I'm even older than boomers and guys used to be told that girls had to reject you at least once - or more - to appear pure. Today is my 50th anniversary and I'm thinking back to our first date almost 53 years ago when we made out on Campus road behind Brooklyn College. I asked her if she told me NO on the first move I made --- which was so inept, I'm surprised we lasted that evening.

Below is the full City article: