Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Unity Caucus Panic Over Mulgrew Massive Failure/Incompetence on Healthcare Retiree Changes as Jan. 1 Deadline Off; What Will Mayor Adams Do?

...remind all UFT retirees who still contribute to the UFT that they can still vote and I plan on doing so to show Mulgrew just how much I appreciated his back door move to throw us all under the bus and everyone should do the same.... Facebook 

This email from Michael Mulgrew and Thom Murphy looks extremely gaslight-y. Re: a quote from the email from Michael Mulgrew and Tom Murphy, below, "the UFT strongly voiced its opinion...that Medicare Advantage Plus...should NOT take effect" - Notice the lack of a direct quote, let alone a source or date - all clues to a lie. There is no direct quote supporting this claim, to my knowledge. My heart is heavy, thinking about those who are trying to drown sick seniors in a tide of toxic misinformation. What hidden reward could make that feel worthwhile?... UFT Retiree

Some think United for Change, the new coalition of oppo groups challenging Unity is causing consternation inside the fort, while others think the disintegration of competent leadership under Mulgrew is just as much a factor, the real cause of panic. In the past, most Unity people had faith in their ability to fight off oppo.

Many Unity still do not see UFC as a threat but do see the real threat as coming from within the halls of 52 Broadway-  recent debacles around healthcare, the Mayoral Scott Stringer debacle where 3 million was spent to prop up a clearly losing candidate, only to endorse Adams who the leadership had told people it was not OK to vote for in the first place, the increasing likelihood of failure of the class size initiative, the faux arguments why we don't need to put it in the contract with recent loses or close calls at the DA -- and the membership complaints of lack of response.

In this post, we focus on the Medicare/MedAdv controversy where to stay in Medicare we have to pay $191 a month - and double for spouses to get the same services we have been getting. The promised Jan. 1 date of change is now thrown up in the air -- the security level of UFT retirees, a mainstay of Unity control, has been tossed in the air. Mulgrew's actions in alienating so many retirees, plus the threat to future retirees (See South Bronx School - My Own Story Why I am Wary of Medicare Advantage) has left even many Unity stalwarts scratching their heads.

And let's not forget that Mulgrew fundamentally takes the anti-medicare for all position and supports a plan that fundamentally undermines the public option.

Here are some facts of the current case:

  • Until there is a Court decision, no retirees will be moved into the new Medicare Advantage plan. Retirees will remain in the plan they were in for 2021.
  • The EmblemHealth / Empire BlueCross BlueShield Senior Care plan will remain premium-free until the new Medicare Advantage plan is implemented.
  • Once the Court announces an implementation date, we will notify retirees of the period of time they will have to opt out of the Medicare Advantage plan.

 ----- NYC Office of Labor Relations
 
After 8 months of gaslighting retirees, Mulgrew informed retirees the plan to move them out of Medicare into profit/privatized Medicare (Dis)Advantage plan on Jan. 1 except for people like me who opted out at an extorted price of $191 a month for less than the same services we were getting for free (we will now have copays). Now I won't have to pay that fee until they find another way to implement the plan, though with Adams taking over Jan. 1, who knows?

The massive recent failure of strategy of the UFT/Unity Caucus leadership on school safety/covid testing (Where Was the UFT as NYC Schools Bought Weaker Air Purifiers as Underventilated Campuses Are More Prone To COVID Cases) and class size reductions, escalated with the admission by Mulgrew that the Jan. 1 move out of Medicare and into privatized Medicare Advantage. 

The Mulgrew/Murphy letter claimed the status quo remains until the court decides. But then we do have co-pays starting in January (which is why I am seeing every doctor I can this month). [T]he new GHI Senior Care doctor co-pay of $15, which is not associated with the new plan, will go into effect on Jan. 1 (it was postponed from July 1).

One retiree was outraged: 

the imposition of a new $15 co-pay for the Senior Care Medicare supplement appears to me to be NOT status quo, and therefore in violation of Judge Frank's order to preserve the status quo.

She went on:
Copays impose paperwork, recordkeeping, and time burdens on sick, elderly patients. In an era of Covid, doctors' office paperwork increases waiting room time and handing pens and papers back and forth, making exposure to Covid variant germs statistically more likely. A $15 copay, or even a 5 cent copay, has many hidden costs beyond its dollar amount, compared with no copay.
Other retiree comments

Right now, we pay no premium, but GHI/Emblem/Empire is not providing this coverage for free.  They are being paid by the city.  I don’t know exactly how much, but probably it’s around — wait for it — $191 per person.  That’s a benefit we earned because of all of our years of service to the city.  To be clear — the city is reneging on that promise and shifting that cost onto US.  It’s not a rate increase by the insurance companies — it’s a cost shift by the city to its retirees.  A broken promise.

And the same is true for those who take the supposedly premium-free MA+ deal.  There the cost shift is partly to Medicare, which allows these MA companies to cheat by charging more than Medicare would pay normally (undermining and privatizing Medicare), and partly to US by denying lots of very expensive procedures that Medicare would normally just pay for, leaving US to pay for them or get really sick or, ya know, die.

Here are links to stories on the medicare issue:

De Blasio blocked from rolling out controversial NYC retiree health plan this year, leaving issue up to Mayor-elect Adams --

 https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/new-york-elections-government/ny-nyc-de-blasio-legally-blocked-from-changing-city-retiree-health-plan-20211130-rqqqkrqfu5d2tkb7aiqyaar45m-story.html?

A Manhattan judge has blocked the de Blasio administration from pushing through a controversial new health care plan for retired municipal workers before the end of the year, meaning the thorny issue will land on Mayor-elect Eric Adams’ desk once he takes office.

Mayor de Blasio’s administration asked Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lyle Frank earlier in November to allow the city to set a Nov. 30 deadline for opting out of the Medicare Advantage Plus plan or be automatically enrolled in it, saying there otherwise wouldn’t be enough time for the new benefits to kick in by Jan. 1.

But in an order late Monday, Frank wrote that he could not understand why the new benefits needed to be implemented by that date.

“After reviewing the correspondence received in the last few days, I do not plan on amending my prior order at this time,” wrote Frank, who first blocked the administration from rolling out the new plan in October after a group of municipal retirees filed a lawsuit claiming it would significantly water down their health care coverage.

Frank said he will keep the issue on ice at least through Dec. 8, when the parties are supposed to convene for a hearing.

Based on the previous time line offered by the administration, Frank’s order means the new plan cannot take effect by Jan. 1 — the day Adams will be sworn in as de Blasio’s successor.

As a result, Adams will have the ability to pause or alter any potential de Blasio proposal that gets the green light from Frank before then.

The de Blasio administration has contended that the new Medicare plan would save city taxpayers $500 million a year because it can be bankrolled by federal dollars to a larger extent. The administration also maintains that health care coverage will remain as rigorous as under the city’s old Medicare plan, which retirees can also opt to keep, though that would cost them an extra $191 a month.

But the coalition of municipal retirees who brought the issue to court say that the new plan could result in them losing access to certain services and medical procedures.

The coalition also argues that enrollment guides sent out to the city’s roughly 250,000 municipal retirees are marred with factual errors and that the court must thereby slam the brakes on implementation until there’s a clearer picture of what the new plan will and will not do.

Front page for Oct. 16, 2021: Eric: Don't alter health plan for 250,000 retired city employees. (New York Daily News)

Steve Cohen, an attorney representing the plaintiff retirees, said the administration’s bid to rush the plan appears aimed at boosting de Blasio politically.

“De Blasio is seriously considering running for governor, and he wants to be able to say he got the city to save $500 million a year — I get it,” Cohen told the Daily News on Tuesday. “But he can’t do it on the backs of seniors, and he’s just rushing to get it done before he leaves office. It’s crazy. So many things are wrong about what they’re doing and trying to do.”

Laura Feyer, a City Hall spokeswoman, would not comment on Frank’s latest ruling, but reiterated that the administration believes its proposal “provides superior benefits for retirees while saving the system hundreds of millions of dollars.”

“We are working towards a resolution and will keep retirees notified of any changes,” Feyer said.

Adams hasn’t committed one way or another to what he will do as mayor about the Medicare matter, though he recently expressed sympathy with concerned retirees.

“We need to look at it and make sure it’s not a bait and switch,” Adams, himself a retired NYPD captain who’s covered by municipal health insurance, told reporters in October. “I’m a retiree, I get retiree benefits. Their plan is my plan. We want to make sure that it is a fair plan. Nothing is more frightening for a retiree than health care.”

Here is the Mulgrew gaslighting letter:


 Due to the ongoing litigation, the UFT strongly voiced its opinion that the New York City Medicare Advantage Plus Plan should not take effect until an orderly transition and continuity of services for retirees can be guaranteed. We have now been notified that the new plan likely will not take effect on Jan. 1, as originally planned. All Medicare-eligible municipal retirees will remain in their current health plans for the time being. No rate increases will go into effect for GHI Senior Care until the New York City Medicare Advantage Plus Plan takes effect, but the new GHI Senior Care doctor co-pay of $15, which is not associated with the new plan, will go into effect on Jan. 1 (it was postponed from July 1). All supplemental health care coverage will also remain unchanged.

The opt-out period continues. During this period, retirees may opt out of the new plan or opt back into it. We will let you know as soon as a deadline for making a final decision has been set. In addition, the union has pressed for — and obtained — assurance that retirees will further be able to opt in or out of the NYC Medicare Advantage Plus Plan during the first part of 2022 after the new plan is in operation.

The two sides will meet again before the judge on Dec. 8. We will alert you as soon as we have an update.

Sincerely,
Michael Mulgrew, UFT President
Tom Murphy, RTC Chapter Leader

And for more info:

If you're interested in the progress of the NYC Public Service Retirees For Benefit Preservation lawsuit against the city, may I suggest you join their email list? This is the website address if you would like to join:


In addition, if you'd like to keep abreast of documents and decisions filed in the case, it's public information and can be viewed at the following address: 

https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/nyscef/DocumentList?docketId=BMh4Q5TKcmSpfW6lzB3JYg%3D%3D&display=all&courtType=New+York+County+Supreme+Court&fbclid=IwAR15-HDob-PekvCvbOJgLQUqWhhX1iCPaQtvVN6-9AKUm65Tj-00ERmf8Vs

1 comment:

  1. Mulgrew said on Monday at the executive meeting that he still, "fully backs" the medicare advantage plan. The blood is all over his hands on this and everybody knows it.

    ReplyDelete

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