Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Rallies, Lawsuit Updates - Retirees go to court - NY Post, AETNA LAWSUIT Calls for halt to Medicare change - Wants piece of $38 Billion up for grabs

...on Friday, some 100 retirees had a die-in press conference at City Hall where they dressed as the Grim Reaper and mimicked choking to death in protest of the plan. Sarah Shapiro, a retired teacher with the Cross Union Retirees Organizing Committee, said they are being thrown “under the bus after decades of service to this city. We are in the midst of a pandemic. We have frail and sickly retirees who are in the middle of cancer treatments,” she said..... NY Post

Question of the day - or year - or decade: 

Why does the UFT leadership oppose Single payer, medicare for all plans and promote privatized MedAdv plans with its profits, high salaries and lower level of service?

Norm's commentary: 

There is a bunch of news around the joint union/city attempt to move 225k retirees out of Medicare and into a privatized version known as Medicare Advantage. A law suit by retirees and a law suit by the losing bidder, Aetna - both reported on below my commentary.

There is an option to opt out and remain in traditional Medicare, which an increasing number of people are taking but at a cost -- it will cost me and my wife around $4500 a year for the same thing we've been getting for free. An extortion plot hatched by our union leaders. The more you know about Medicare Advantage, the more you want to vomit.

Read these for a deeper dive --  

The Retiree Advocate/UFT caucus has been leading the battle since April with press conferences, rallies and marches.

Our vote total went up to 30% in the retiree chapter election in April when many retirees had not yet heard of the change. With a general UFT election coming this March-May and the retiree vote crucial for Unity Caucus control of the UFT, another 10 point slippage might put the election in play for the first time. (Already retirees are asking to be added to the oppositon slate.) Add this to the general unhappiness with the UFT by working members over school safety and their support for the minority of unvaxed teachers, this election can be interesting.

I reported on recent events, some organized by a cross union group that included Retiree Advocates --- We had a great Die-in on Friday near City Hall with hundreds of people --- people in hospital gowns were "examined" by doctors - some of them real docs - and rejected, upon which they "died" on a mat while the grim reaper stood over them. (There were also concurrent Taxi and Climate protests in the same area- a perfect day for protests.)

 [ see - “Die-In” is to publicize the inadequacies of the NYC Medicare Advantage switch-over by Mayor de Blasio and Unions]

We were out in force at the  Sept. 22 UFT chapter leader meeting, which ironically was limited to 200 people in Shanker Hall which seats 850 -- ironically because the UFT seems OK with sending its members into crowded schools with little social distancing. Monday night there was an Ex bd meeting in person where everyone had to show proof of vax. I'm wondering if the UFT has a must vax order for its own employees.

The Aetna lawsuit has a better chance of halting things before Jan. 1 than the members vote -- I didn't join as a plaintive but wish them luck. Aetna is pissed because they lost out and are claiming the people who won out are incompetent at managing these type of plans. I join Retiree Advocate in opposing all private insurance and wanting a medicare for all, single payer system. Yes, it's socialized medicine -- but Medicare has basically proved that it works. Below the break are details of the lawsuits:


The lawsuit filed by Aetna to overturn the selection of Emblem/BCBS as the provider of the new Medicare Advantage plan has been filed in the New York County Supreme Court. 

A hearing for the court to consider the motion filed by Aetna’s attorney has been scheduled for 09:30 on 9/28/2021. 

The presiding judge will be Lyle E Frank. Judge Frank was elected to the court in 2015 for a ten year term. He will be up for election in 2025. He ran for office as a Democrat. I could find very little information about him as a judge. 

He was a member of community board 6. Maybe there are some retirees out there who know him and can provide some background on him. 

The law firm handling the case for Aetna is Kostelanetz & Fink. The lead attorneys are Claude Millman and Jordan Weatherwax. The firm has represented Aetna for many years according to their website. It is one of most experienced law firms in the country at dealing with “ procurement law” cases. Mr Millman is a partner at the firm and has over 20 years experience in litigation against local and federal governments. He is the best.

No, we don't want Aetna to replace Emblem but any sand thrown in the gears is a good thing. So go Aetna -- but not too far past stopping this for now. 

And go retirees with your law suit, as per NY Post:

Retired NYC employees sue to block new ‘inferior’ Medicare coverage

September 27, 2021

A group of nearly 4,000 former public servants say the city is forcing them onto a new plan that costs more for fewer benefits. 

A group of nearly 4,000 former public servants, including firefighters, police officers, teachers, and EMTs, say the city is stiffing them on their health insurance — by forcing them onto a new plan that costs more for fewer benefits, new court papers allege.

Under the new Medicare supplement plan, called Alliance Medicare Advantage, the city’s retired heroes will be required to pay $15 co-pays for many routine services, including specialist visits, diagnostic tests and trips to urgent care, according to the Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit filed Sunday.

Currently, no co-pay is required.

In addition, not all doctors have to accept the plan and patients will need prior authorization for procedures that “may result in a serious delay of medical tests or procedures,” potentially endangering their health, the suit alleges.

The health plan, which goes into effect Jan. 1, was also struck quietly between the city and the Municipal Labor Committee — “a purely advisory group” that the retirees are “not represented by,” the filing claims.

The two sides “engaged in a charade of ‘negotiating'” to reach the deal that affected some 250,000 retired government employees without their consultation, the suit charges.

And once the plan was finalized — without a public hearing being held — it was only announced on the Office of Labor Relations’ website on July 14 where it wouldn’t be widely seen, the suit claims.

The city “does not have the right to impose materially diminished benefits upon people who are long-retired and have depended upon vested benefits that were negotiated under earlier [Collective Bargaining Agreements] that were in place when they retired,” it charges.

Marianne Pizzitola, President Fire Department NY EMS Retirees Association
Marianne Pizzitola said the city is pulling a safety net out from under former city employees.

The deal does technically allow the former public servants to opt-out of the new plan by October, but remaining on their current plan will cost them, the filing notes.

On top of also imposing the same co-pays as the new plan, the retired city workers will also have to cough up nearly $200 extra a month if they choose to stay with their current coverage, the court papers allege.

Supplemental insurance, called Medigap, covers the 20 percent that Medicare doesn’t. The subsidized coverage is costing the city over $500 million a year.

“Understandably, the City would like to reduce its healthcare costs. But it cannot do so by shifting those expenses onto the retirees,” the suit said.

Marianne Pizzitola, the president of the Organization of Public Service Retirees, Inc., the group suing the city, said it is pulling “the most critical of safety nets” out from under thousands of elderly and disabled former city employees — many of whom now live on fixed incomes.

A lawyer on the suit, Steve Cohen of law firm Pollock Cohen LLP, said “Importantly, the obligation to pay for that insurance is not only established by law … but is incorporated into most of the collective bargaining agreements that the City has entered into for decades.”

Nick Paolucci, a spokesman with the city Law Department said, “The city is committed to selecting providers that are in the best interest of the city and its retirees.

“We’ll review the case.”

A spokesperson with the Office of Labor Relations deferred comment to the Law Department.

Meanwhile, on Friday, some 100 retirees had a die-in press conference at City Hall where they dressed as the Grim Reaper and mimicked choking to death in protest of the plan.

Sarah Shapiro, a retired teacher with the Cross Union Retirees Organizing Committee, said they are being thrown “under the bus after decades of service to this city.”

“We are in the midst of a pandemic. We have frail and sickly retirees who are in the middle of cancer treatments,” she said.

Earlier this month, Aetna — the city’s largest private Medicare administrator — sued over the $34 billion Alliance plan calling it a “tainted” contract that was awarded to their unqualified rival bidder during a fixed bidding process.


  1. There is a rumor that the retired employee group has asked people to hold off filing opt-out forms for now. Many of us refuse to use Facebook so do not receive direct info from the Cross group. Can you verify any details?

  2. I heard from a friend in Florida who is in the lawsuit that lawyers asked them to delay filing opt out for two weeks pending some documents they are trying to get -- Here is what she said:
    "Summary Plan Description from the year one retired. It will outline the health section of the contract in it. The lawyers need it. The NYC Org Retiree page have been asking us to get it from our unions."


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