Thursday, February 23, 2023

UFT/Unity/AFT/NYSUT Bait and Switch Pro-Privatization Healthcare Duplicity, Playing Swap the Lobbyists Game

Oh, what a tangled web they weave,  

when first they practice to deceive! 
Always watch what UFT/AFT/NYSUT Leaders do, not what they say.
Ugh! I Mean UGH!!!!!!
  • UFT political director (and former Cuomo aide) Cassie Prugh leaves for lobbying firm in December but UFT may retain her and her firm (rumor - @10k a month).
  • Assistant UFT political director Angel Vasquez remains in place despite primarying (and losing) major UFT supporter Robert Jackson. 
  • Mulgrew lists himself as a lobbyist along with Vasquez. Vasquez, as Prugh’s assistant, is tasked with lobbying on a city level. As he describes in his LinkedIn bio. Clearly he was responsible for the failed campaign to influence the City Council to amend 12-126. An attempt that hurts retirees and active workers as the code provides decades old safeguards protecting the healthcare of city workers. UFT Payments to lobbyists (Vasquez and Mulgrew?) are listed as 94K. Is this in addition to their UFT salaries?

I've been working on this story about UFT/NYSUT political directors that points to how our local, state, national union work in tandem with the corporate Democrats' aim to make sure healthcare remains under the control of private insurance. Remember how quickly Obama abandoned the public option in order to get the private insurance companies to support Obamacare because they are making a fortune? Fundamental neo-liberal concept that better profit making private than anything government. Reaganism from both parties. Only the Bernie left pushes back. 

Thanks to Daniel Alicea for doing the fundamental research. 

Daniel has provided some insights into explaining the reasoning behind the Mulgrew promotion of Medicare Advantage which is controlled by private profit making insurance over the publicly managed Medicare system. 
The key: the union is bonded at the hip to the corporate wing of the Dem party which is also pro-privatization which also promotes medicare advantage over Medicare. Biden even appointed a corp exec to run Medicare - the classic fox in the hen house. (see below for details). A gang of lobbyists do their thing very successfully.

Daniel's research into the history of our local, state, national teacher union positions on healthcare shows an evolution going from support for public option toward privately managed care with some careful managing of the language used.

In 2017, the unions flirted theatrically with Bernie Sander’s popular single payer Medicare For All plan supported by a supermajority of Americans. However, Daniel asserts that with the campaigns of Harris and Biden, the union machines like AFT and AFL-CIO fall in line with the privatized vision for private-public national healthcare system. 
There's a difference between single payer and medicare for all. Medicare for all Obama care style keeps the private insurers in the game. Single payer means the government pays all bills and also has the ability to control healthcare costs. 

Note this point whenever Mulgrew whines about healthcare costs going up:
And have you noticed how since then hospitals have consolidated?

The AFT’s shift on Medicare Advantage and privatization of Medicare 

into a few too big to fail groups?

And the disappearance or deterioration of public hospital options?   

Yes they call for universal coverage but in the model of an Obamacare system extension which is better than nothing but fundamentally is a windfall for private insurers. They are careful in not calling for a single payer system like we have with traditional Medicare. So when Mulgrew tries to move us from single payer Medicare to multi-payer Medicare Advantage, he is affirming the corp Dem (ie. Biden/Shumer/Pelosi, etc) position on healthcare vs the Bernie Sanders single payer wing.
Some Key takeaways:
  • UFT/AFT leaders "claim" they want universal healthcare while doing everything they can to undermine the possibilities on all levels.
  • Ditto for their partners in the Democratic Party run by a center/right connected to private health insurance lobbyists.
  • UFT hires lobby firm representing healthcare industry.
  • Biden chooses member of same firm to run Medicare. 
  • Both Dems and UFT try selling universal healthcare for all but must go through private insurance companies instead of single payer.
Ed Notes' recent report on the coming changes in the NY State United Teachers (NYSUT News: Going - Pres. Andy Pallotta, Coming - Melinda Person Who? Has Never Been a Teacher - Succession or Coup?) we mentioned that lobbyist Cassie Prugh had left the UFT in December to go work for a private firm, Manatt, Phelps, and Phillips, LLP, leaving her UFT position vacant. Or maybe not. (See below for Prugh's lobby listings.) Also note above and below the letter Mulgew sent to state ethics listing himself and Vasquez as lobbyists at 94K a year while at the same time we hear they may use Prugh, now employed by Manatt, etc. as a consultant. Money to burn. Our money.
Want an example of litigation won by Manatt in California where they defended the right of hospitals NOT to reveal fees? Remember, Prugh comes out of the Cuomo admin - check his record on hospitals (and nursing homes).

Manatt secured a landmark victory for its client Dignity Health, a California-based nonprofit hospital system, on October 13, when the California Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the hospital in Gray v. Dignity Health. The decision affirmed the dismissal of a putative systemwide class action lawsuit that claimed Dignity Health unlawfully failed to disclose emergency room fees. The decision also held that Dignity Health complies with all state and federal pricing disclosure laws, none of which imposes a duty to disclose emergency room fees. The Court of Appeal held that the disclosure duty the plaintiff wanted to impose was directly contrary to a host of federal and state laws that prohibit hospitals from discussing cost with patients in the emergency room prior to treating them, thus “disregard[ing] the long standing regulatory environment within which emergency departments operate, which emphasizes that no one in need of emergency care should be deterred from receiving it because of cost.” 

Do you think this victory for hospitals helped them keep prices high?
Now how about this one as we tie the Biden admin to Manatt:


Jeez - the lady running Medicare managed the same firm that Cassie Prugh is working for. A tangled web indeed. Recently we found that Medicare was going to let the private insurers get away with billions in defrauding Medicare.

Daniel's next career should be investigative reporter.

No legislative reports at Ex Bd meetings 
Ok, so we have the link between Prugh and Manatt and the UFT.  For years we enjoyed former UFT Leg rep Paul Egan's reports at Ex Bd meetings because we wanted the latest soccer scores from Manchester United. We no longer get regular reports since Prugh left. Ask who replaced her and you get vague answers, including the UFT will now hire her and her firm as consultants. Now add to this that Prugh's deputy has been Angel Vasquez who outraged people by forcing Robert Jackson, probably the most loyal UFT supporter, into a primary for State Senate. We should not be using our dues to pay Angel Vasquez to work for the UFT. He was the agent of the right wing Dem attempt to purge a progressive. 
Here are some of Daniel's tweets on the story:
is a VERY big lobbying firm. just secured them as their lobbying firm in Jan. Significant for a few reasons. 1. Manatt is one of the most influential lobbyists for Medicare Advantage & ACOs. 
2. fmr political director who just left, now UFT lobbyist in Albany. 
3. Fmr managing director for Manatt is appointed by Biden as director for CMS. She is on record in her belief that the path to national healthcare is through privatization.
Prugh and her assistant, have lobbied with FOR admin code 12-126. The provision that protects city worker healthcare. Vasquez still with and on payroll. He ran against in 2022. And is responsible for lobbying pols in NYC like
To clarify, Prugh and Vasquez lobbied for the ELIMINATION of admin code 12-126.
A single payer option is off the table on state & nat’l level for the big Dem machine. Despite lip service. See Biden & Harris vision for private-public plans. We see this vision in 2019 when testified before Congress. It’s as if she targets NYHA 
This privatization vision is reflected in our teacher unions when voted against including Medicare for All on DNC platform. And after decades of anti-privatization policy passes a resolution in 2020 during #lockdown that opens path to privatization.
This shift away from anti-privatization from teacher unions is made evident when and rejected separate resolutions seeking to reaffirm our past rejection of privatization of Medicare. This is the AFT reso that was REJECTED in committee and not brought to a vote.
 And some source material:

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