Monday, January 16, 2023

City Council Healthcare Hearing Update - Links to Video, Exposing UFT Leadership hypocrisy, And Much more

The City Council hearing on Monday went very well.  We filled the Council chamber with about 250 retirees, plus we had about 300 people outside chanting, "Let us in!"  Our government liaisons were able to get the retirees into 250 Broadway so they were warm and could hear the hearing.  As people left the chamber, retirees were permitted to come across the street to the chamber to testify.

We had retirees testifying until 9 pm!  We were heard.    We were also blessed to have Wendell Potter testify with us.  Wendell, is a nationally known whistleblower in the insurance industry.  Here is his newsletter about the hearing.  

The hearing lasted almost 12  hours long.    If you want to watch the full testimony of the day click here.  VIDEO.  ....NY
Monday, Jan. 16, 2022
I just checked out the VIDEO of the hearing - it's 12 hours of drama that would make a mint on Netfix. I got to go near the end at 9:54 -9:57 -  But also check out the woman before me - Laura I think her name is - called Mulgrew and crew out and out liars. Her husband has cancer and told her to say don't change the code - fight them. They're trying to privatize like you wouldn't believe and they are watching us - and that code is protecting us and if we let them do it here it opens everything up for them -- truly a wonderful speech. And UFT Ex Bd member Ibeth Mejia who came over from the UFT Exec Bd meeting with us speaks right after me - find other ways to save money. Mulgrew by zoom is around 4:30. Marianne panel follows them at 4:40 and goes on till 5:40 as she is questioned intensely and holds her own. Renowned critic of Medicare Adv Wendell Potter is also part of her panel. If you want a full picture, check out that segment. 

I got some pretty good responses to my 2 minutes, plus phone calls and emails from people I hadn't heard from in a while.

I've been trying to write this report of what happened last Monday at the NYC City Council Healthcare issue for a week but kept getting tangled up with the constant flow of information and the report grew and grew until it became totally unwieldy. So I'm starting over.
I reported the morning of Jan. 9 as I was watching the hearing from home and writing my testimony:  
I left off as I was about to leave to catch the ferry into the hearing and had just sent in my written testimony at around 12:30. I got there around 2:30 and had to go through various checkpoints - the first policeman told me the hearing was over and to go to 250 Broadway -- so I went there and was told they were about to bring down the people from the overflow room so I should go back. I went through 3 different police who all asked me what I was there for: I came to help save yours and my health insurance - and they all laughed and knew exactly what I was talking about and were supportive.
So I came in as Marianne was testifying and filled out a form to get on the speaker list. I was told I was at the end and around 5:15 I left to go to the UFT Ex Bd where I had a delicious meal of pork and potatoes --- oh, yeah, some other shit happened worth reporting. I have a few words to say about the Jan.11 UFT ex bd (the good, the bad, the ugly about Unity actions) but will do that in a separate post - you can catch up with James and Nick reports on Jan. 9 EB:

As the Ex Bd was ending around 7:15 I received texts from Jonathan and my friend Shelly in San Diego telling me my name had been called, so I went back to the council and pretty much got to speak almost immediately. A bunch of us from Retiree Advocate left together. Some had been there since 8 AM.

James has a weekend update from Marianne who also appeared on Daniel and Leonie's WBAI program Sunday night with an email update:
  • The latest email from the New York City Organization of Public Service Retirees:  They are advising us to be patient. The most important paragraph from the email: We have asked you all to NOT call City Council.  We are allowing them to absorb this week quietly, and we will advise you to our strategy next week.   Monday is a holiday, and we will be in meetings on Tuesday.  We will advise you of our next steps soon.   In the meantime, look back on all we accomplished together!   You wanted to be heard, and boy did they hear you!   Things are looking good...  just give us a few days..  Be hopeful!   WE ARE!  
Jonathan also has a few words: JD2718 A Healthcare Week - a pretty full healthcare week.
Stories kept breaking all week. We are prepping for a Jan, 19 rally if a vote comes up but that is still in flux.

A biggie on Jan. 12 was another loss for the city and Mulgrew with the judge ruling on co-payments:
Even funnier was Mulgrew's attempts to take credit for the ruling after he was instrumental in inserting co-payments and bragging about doing so. Does Mulgrew have a memory issue where he forgets what he says ten minutes before? James has the funny take with Marianne's video mocking Mulgrew:

Even funnier than funnier was Mulgrew's own retirees trashing MedicareAdv and pleading in their testimony arguing they desparately want the option of not being forced in MedAdv by the actions of their own union leadership - arguing both for and against the UFT position. They testify at 6:30 point.

 Arthur did a piece on the same issue destroying the leaderhip. 

 MORE News and links:

Left/Right Coalition at Council:

Don't discount the significance of right wing Republicans and Democratic Socialists coming together, a story that might stimulate national interest: 

You know your for-profit, privatized Medicare Advantage health insurance plan really sucks when right-wing Republicans and left-wing Democrats actually unite to defeat its imposition on municipal retirees. 
Medicare Advantage has been exposed as a vehicle to enrich for-profit insurance. You don't hear the truth on corporate MSM. You get the truth, unvarnished on Work-Bites

The 9AM press conference  

How bad are Medicare Advantage schemes?

Medicare (Dis)Advantage exposed exposes the Shame of Mulgrew claiming MedAdv is just Medicare Part C (Technically it is but he tries to give the impression there is really no difference).

Wendell Potter's testimony to New York City’s Committee on Civil Service and Labor against Mayor Eric Adams’ decision to move New York’s public worker retirees into an Aetna Medicare Advantage plan. or  Click here.

Insurers Are Fighting To Protect Their Medicare Fraud

Jan 13, 2023 Andrew Perez
Health insurers are ready to sue the government if Biden officials don’t let them keep years of overpayments from Medicare.

This year, for the first time, a majority of seniors eligible for Medicare will be on privatized Medicare Advantage plans. Now, the insurance companies raking in giant profits from these for-profit plans are mounting a pressure campaign and planning to sue the government to protect years of overpayments they’ve extracted from Medicare.

A cash cow for big insurers, the for-profit version of Medicare has not been a great deal for the American public. Medicare Advantage plans cost the government more per beneficiary than traditional Medicare, and often wrongfully deny care.

What’s more, federal audits have found Medicare Advantage plans systematically overbilling the public — mostly by billing as if patients are sicker than they really are, a scheme known as “upcoding.” Officials estimate the private plans collected $650 million in overpayments from 2011 to 2013.

Listen to reporter Andrew Perez discuss this article.

The Biden administration is expected to finalize a rule next month to try to recoup some of these overpayments — but Medicare Advantage insurers are threatening to sue if the rule moves forward as written, according to Stat News. If insurers sue, it could further delay the government’s efforts to claw back excess payments stretching back more than a decade, as well as future overpayments.

The health insurance industry argues that regulators should allow for some level of payment errors — and should only apply new rules to audits moving forward, instead of retroactively punishing past misconduct.

“It’s crazy,” said Diane Archer, founder of Just Care USA, an organization that opposes Medicare privatization. “They overcharged. Who’s ever heard of a situation where you’re overcharged and you don’t get your money back? It’s beyond comprehension. The Medicare trust fund should not be paying out funds inappropriately, and it’s driving up Medicare [insurance] premiums.”

“Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars, If Not More, At Stake”

President Joe Biden is doing nothing to slow the Medicare privatization push. Indeed, his administration has hiked payments to Medicare Advantage insurers while expanding a program called ACO REACH that allows companies to enroll seniors on traditional Medicare into private health care plans without their informed consent.



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