“As a matter of public policy, beyond the scope of our office’s specific Charter responsibility for contract registration, I am seriously concerned about the privatization of Medicare plans, overbilling by insurance companies, and barriers to care under Medicare Advantage.... Recent investigations identified extensive allegations of fraud, abuse, overbilling, and denials of medically necessary care at 9 of the top 10 Medicare Advantage plans, including CVS Health, which owns Aetna. ... ‘Once corporations privatize every inch of the public provision of health care, we may never get Medicare back... Brad Lander
Wow! Brad Lander goes on my very small list of politicians I still vote for.... NYC Retirees
Friday, June 9, 2023
Good news. With the deadline to opt out (June 30) of MulgrewDisadvantateCare fast approaching, Brad Lander tosses a monkey wrench into the Mayor Adams/MRC/UFT deal to drag city retirees out of Medicare into the privately managed, profit making Aetna plan, due to take effect on Sept. 1. As you can see above, Lander went further than just talking about the specifics but went after the general attack on Medicare by the insurance lobby and its allies - our own union.
Fundamentally, the UFT/Unity backing of this change is anti-union and anti-worker. But with a union leadership that dovetails with the corporate wing of the Dem party, why expect anything else? We've noticed that some of the rhetoric coming from the mouth of Randi Weingarten and crew turn calls for Medicare for all into MedicareAdvantage for all --- meaning the standard neo-liberal attacks on government run programs as Medicare is.
Last week, the lawsuit was filed by retirees and yesterday a bill was supposed to be introduced by Charles Baron to the city council, with a large demo outside of retirees but that was postponed until next week - most likely June 22 - Thursday. It's important to have big crowds at these rallies -- politicians notice.
With Adams facing an election in two years, I imagine Lander has put himself into the running as retirees will vote heavily to oppose Adams and Lander just gave himself a leg up. Yes, politics do matter. Even it we don't win the medicare case, we can punish Adams in the next election - and Mulgrew too - both in 2025.
But there is some skepticism in that the Mayor can overrule Lander and will probably do so, so don't go crazy. However, Lander went much further than the narrow legal issues and raised crucial points we have been trying to raise at the UFT - that they were helping kill the only public option.
Nick has notes at NAC on the story:Mulgrew: the Comptroller is worried about MAP. Why aren’t you? -
Yes, Mayor Adams may reverse Lander’s decision. But we now have well positioned allies refusing to sign off on retiree healthcare cuts. And that bodes well for the future, even if it does mean our dear beloved Unity-led UFT leaders may need to find their ‘healthcare savings’ elsewhere, as their debt to the City passes its due date. And yes, with the spotlight on retirees, we should expect those cuts to land on in-service teachers, who have been promised the absurd: an ‘equal or better replacement to GHI at 10% cheaper of a cost.’
When will that replacement be announced? You better bet it won’t be until after Mulgrew tries to ram through a mediocre contract—and that process will start as early as next week. So, before we vote on a TA, let’s make sure we ask – what will only 90% of our current health plan look like, and how will we afford it on a pay-cut?
Make no mistake: we can’t win the battle against healthcare cuts solely on the good graces of well-positioned politicians. Ultimately, we need to situate ourselves to be able to stop anti-labor backroom deals. As Mulgrew is keen to remind us at DAs and executive board meetings, health care is a part of our overall compensation. Well, we vote on whether to accept what the City offers us in economic compensation. So, both now and when we’re retired, we deserve a vote on changes to medical coverage too. Since UFT leadership doesn’t see the problems everyone else sees with reducing our coverage and tossing retirees onto MAP, we need a formal and permanent mechanism to keep them from doing so.
I'm hitting all my docs before Sept. 1 - braving the smoke today to keep a cardiology appointment - I do preventive maintenance - like having my car checked regularly. I think today is a stress test which I think will show I have slowed down since the last one -- I'm thinking it's my weight which I can't seem to lose - probably due to the cheese cake at UFT Ex Bd meetings. Or maybe it's the stress of seeing my own union try to reduce my healthcare.
The email below was sent by a large medical group here in Delray Beach regarding their feelings about Aetna. It's an important read regarding their past dealings with Aetna.
Here is Lander's complete statement:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 8, 2023
Chloe Chik, (646) 761-2914
Comptroller Lander Declines to Register Medicare Advantage Contract Pending Litigation
New York, NY – The Comptroller’s Office declined to register the City’s contract with Aetna to transfer City retirees to a Medicare Advantage program for their health care coverage. A pending lawsuit, brought on behalf of retirees, questions the City’s authority to enter into such an agreement.
Comptroller Brad Lander issued the following statement:
“The Comptroller’s Bureau of Contract Administration carefully reviewed the City’s contract with Aetna and returned the contract to the Office of Labor Relations without registering it. Pending litigation calls into question the legality of this procurement and constrains us from fulfilling our Charter mandated responsibility to confirm that procurement rules were followed, sufficient funds are available, and the City has the necessary authority to enter into the contract.
“As a matter of public policy, beyond the scope of our office’s specific Charter responsibility for contract registration, I am seriously concerned about the privatization of Medicare plans, overbilling by insurance companies, and barriers to care under Medicare Advantage.
“I appreciate the work of the Municipal Labor Council and the Office of Labor Relations to negotiate improvements to the Aetna contract to address some of the concerns raised by retirees. However, the broader Medicare Advantage trends are worrisome. Recent investigations identified extensive allegations of fraud, abuse, overbilling, and denials of medically necessary care at 9 of the top 10 Medicare Advantage plans, including CVS Health, which owns Aetna.
“As health care activist Ady Barkan wrote last month, noting that half of Medicare enrollees nationwide have been transferred from traditional Medicare to private Medicare Advantage plans: ‘Once corporations privatize every inch of the public provision of health care, we may never get Medicare back.’”