Saturday, September 24, 2022

MulgrewCare Run Amuck: Union Leaders Lobby City Council on Admin Code that has protected healthcare delivery since the late 60's?

Yellow - union/city modifications to 12-126 admin code - giving city an out on coverage

The unions' first mistake was in agreeing to $600 million in savings every year - Marianne Pizzitola, President, NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees Inc

Saturday, September 24 -- I almost lost track since I tested positive for covid for first time this week -- I can still type.

When did our unions become the fiscal hound dogs like Adams? Imagine he comes to the UFT and says no money for class size reductions but if every UFT member pays 191 bucks  month we can make it happen. Let's pay for our own contract like Mulgrew is asking retirees to pay for what was free.

I got a call asking me to get more involved in the city council lobbying campaign being hit hard my our UFT misleaders who are telling the council people that the Unity Caucus stacked UFT retiree health committee supports changing the admin code which will free the unions and the city to offer me a choice of their privatized Med Adv plan or I can stick with my currently free plan for the cost of almost $400 a month for me and my wife. The city has been paying $191 a month for each of us to cover the 20% senior care uncovered by Medicare. Now I'd have to pick that up. I've been told that if the UFT gets its way, the city costs would drop to $7 a month per UFT member. That number should get us great coverage. But they can only get around the court case by convincing the council to change the admin code from 1967 which forces the city to pay much higher fees.

The reason was that the city wanted to only pay the 20% that Medicare didn't way and this addition to the code was viewed as a money saver in 1967. Even the massive fiscal crisis of the 70s didn't lead to calls to change the code.

Thanks a lot. And by the way, there are a bunch of Retiree Advocate (the caucus) members on that committee who oppose the changes but are given no voice at the town halls. The lobbyists on our side want to show the city council that the UFT top is a locked box where rank and file voices are stifled.

I got a quick primer on what exactly is going on with the changes. The admin code provision goes back to 1967 and covers retirees and working members for guaranteed city coverage of over $900 per member for health coverage. Due to Mulgrew 2014 raid of the stabilization fund to cover the raises for working teachers contract with back pay after 9 years without a contract, and a 2018 agreement to help the city cover healthcare costs, the unions owe the city a billion dollars and selling out the members on healthcare is the only way.

Actually, rather than have me interpret, watch this video from Marianne Pizzitola- a sentence by sentence explanation of the admin code -

Let me just interject that the two main competitors for the city contract are Emblem (which pulled out after the recent debacles over the court case) and CVS owned Aetna - by the way note this about the people we want to run our healthcare --

Yeah, these are the people I want our union to hand a $38 billion contract.

Eterno comments on ICEUFT blog:

The Municipal Labor Committee (an umbrella group of over 100 city government unions) is working with the city to try to get the City Council to change the Administrative Code (city law) on city employee healthcare benefits. 

The UFT Contract entitles UFTers to a choice of premium free healthcare plans (see Article 3G1). The change in the law would make it only a choice of health plans. This is part of a checklist on what the UFT is currently doing that is part of the Chapter Leader Update:

Lobbying the New York City Council to amend the administrative code to state explicitly that the city must negotiate with the Municipal Labor Committee on all employee health care plans and must allow that city unions may negotiate for employees to have health care plan choices.

Notice they don't say choice of free healthcare plans.  A judge threw out the city-MLC's attempt to move Medicare-eligible retirees into a Medicare Advantage Plan (privatized healthcare or what we termed Mulgrewcare) or pay premiums for what they have now. 

The city is trying to change the law so they can easily end choices for premium-free coverage and impose the inferior Mulgrewcare. They could then charge around $400 a month for couples to keep traditional Medicare-Seniorcare that today costs $0 in premiums. Unions like the Professional Staff Congress are opposing the change. The city and MLC will be able to end premium-free healthcare choices for active UFTers and non Medicare retirees if the change passes in the City Council.

Go to the Professional Staff Congress (CUNY union) page for more information and to get involved in the fight to oppose healthcare givebacks. 

Here is a supporting response from Tiffany Caban, one of the most progressive city council members, a Dem Socialist (boo to you corp dems and republicans): 
Good morning,

Thanks for taking the time to write. Our office is supportive of retiree's having a choice in their healthcare coverage. CM Cabán was among the signers of the Open Letter to cancel the proposed Medicare Advantage Plus plan (attached) and continues to support the current Medicare/Senior Care health insurance coverage for municipal retirees. We are keeping an eye out for any legislation on this topic that may appear in Council.

Steph Silkowski (she/her)
Chief of Staff
Council Member Tiffany Cabán
District 22, Queens

The above is in response to a letter from a UFT retiree on the Retiree Advocate listserve:

Dear Council Member Caban,

I am on your mailing list because I have supported you in the past.  I believe we share the same political philosophy.

I am 78 years old, and my wife is 77.  We are being threatened with a severe reduction in our healthcare by the plan to eviscerate the protection provided to New York City retirees and their spouses by § 12-126 of the city administrative code since 1967.  The proposed changes would eliminate the cost-free guarantee to retirees and would pave the way to completely privatizing our Medicare/Senior Care.  

The Medicare Advantage private insurance plan that would be forced upon us is significantly inferior to our current plan, which was cost-free until co-pays were recently added (in violation of §12-126) for breathing near any healthcare provider (slight exaggeration).  That plan, or whatever replaces it, since Anthem pulled out, has a restricted network of providers, imposes financial liability on retirees if their out-of-network doctors do not obtain “prior authorization”, and, most important, incentivizes the private insurance company to deny expensive medical procedures, as they are allowed to keep anything they don’t spend on care.  

Medicare Advantage companies typically deny medical procedures at a much higher rate than Medicare itself does, even though they are supposed to use the same rules.  It’s all in the interpretation of those rules as applied, and depends completely on who is doing the interpreting.  Last April, the HHS Inspector General came out with a scathing report exposing the significantly higher rate of denials of care by Medicare Advantage companies as compared to Medicare itself.

When an expensive procedure gets denied by the Medicare Advantage company, what happens?  Either the patient goes without the necessary procedure, suffering health consequences or even death, or the patient comes up with the money somehow, and saves her own life by paying for what Medicare would have covered in the first place.  THIS  IS  NOT  A  COST-FREE  PLAN.  The cost can be enormous.  It violates §12-126, which requires cost-free healthcare (not merely premium-free).  And there is no way to remedy this by tweaking the plan.  It is the Medicare Advantage business model to spend less on healthcare by denying expensive procedures.  

That’s why the Mayor and the complicit Municipal Labor Committee is now asking the City Council to destroy our guarantee of cost-free health care since 1967 by undoing §12-126.

 Please, we beg you, do everything in your power to stop this atrocity.


1 comment:

Robert Cowen said...

I urge anyone who thinks that Medicare Advantage is just fine for us NYC retirees and don't know why they are making such a fuss to watch: