Saturday, July 8, 2023

Retiree Advocate Newsletter: Good News on UFT Retiree Healthcare: Judge Frank Grants TRO for Switch to MAP

I was going to post on some of these issues, so this is welcome relief from doing the work. Thanks RA. I will be back later today with more on the healthcare issue and the mystery of the missing contract outcome, probably buried in the catacombs.


                                                       July, 2023

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Nick Bacon, New Action Caucus, July 7

Today, Judge Lyle Frank
granted a TRO (temporary restraining Order) which will temporarily halt the City and the MLC from switching all retirees from GHI SeniorCare to a for-profit Aetna Medicare Advantage Plan. While the case is far from over, this is a very good omen. These excerpts in particular bode well:  

“First, the Court finds that the petitioners have shown by clear and convincing evidence that there is a likelihood of success on the merits. The Court agrees that it is likely that this Court will ultimately find that the respondents are estopped from switching retirees into a Medicare Advantage Plan and that New York City Administrative Code section 12-126 does not permit the action that the City plans to take….The petitioners have shown that numerous promises were made by the City to then New York City employees and future retirees that they would receive a Medicare supplemental plan when they retired, and that their first level of coverage once that retired would by Medicare.”

Make no mistake: the timing of this TRO decision alongside a new contract that is almost sure to be ratified within the next several days is meaningful. Mulgrew’s nightmare scenario of a ratified contract followed by the necessity of making major negative changes to in-service health care plans now seems more likely and more imminent than it did before. Mulgrew, after all, will still need to find savings to pay back the City for promised healthcare spending reductions. Now, however, he will have to pillage elsewhere than our retiree coverage. For those next steps, we must wait and see; against those next steps, we must be ready to fight.

For more from the New Action / UFT Blog, check out the website here.

More information

From the PSC
 The decision temporarily enjoins the City, until further order of the court, from requiring any City retirees and their dependents from being removed from their current health insurance plans and from being required to either enroll in an Aetna MA Plan or seek their own coverage.  The court said they plaintiffs met the standards for winning a preliminary injunction, as 1) they have a likelihood of succeeding on the merits of their first cause of action, which alleges the city made a  promise of future Medicare benefits that retirees relied on "to their detriment" (making a decision based on that promise that concretely affects them, such as not taking another job), 2) there would be "irreparable harm" if they have to wait to complete litigation before receiving a court decision, and 3) the "balance of equities" (is the harm greater from granting or not granting an injunction?) favor the plaintiffs.
It can be difficult to appeal from the issuance of an injunction, as normally appeals are heard only from final decisions. Nevertheless, it's fair to assume the City will appeal. Meanwhile, the judge will begin a process in which he requires the City to provide evidence that satisfies him that, for example, retirees won't be denied coverage/treatment they would have received under Medicare.

More from the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees.  Please note that the good news is only temporary in that:
There will be subsequent hearings in court to determine if the Temporary Restraining Order should become "permanent" or if it should be lifted, and if so, on what basis;

The City still has pending before the state Court of Appeals the appeal it filed on last year's case (which had said that the City does have the right to offer the Medicare Advantage Plan (the one it had offered before) but that the City has no right to auto enroll us or to make us pay for our already-existing Medigap plan).  We do not yet know what the status of that Court of Appeals case is - whether the Court will allow it to continue, or dismiss it or what.

The City still has an appeal pending on the 'co-pay' case.
We still need the City Council to pass Int. 1099-2023 so that we can permanently secure our rights to our existing health insurance benefits without having to go back and forth to court - a very unaffordable and time/labor-intensive process.

So the organization has asked that we continue to donate (details below) for the mounting legal expenses and try to get our friends and others impacted by the City retiree health insurance rules and policies to do the same.


1.  Make Your Check or Money Order payable to 
NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees 
     Mail to:
NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees 
c/o JSH Accounting Services, LLC        
PO Box 143538       
Fayetteville, GA 30214

For your convenience, you can set-up AutoPay with your banking institution so that you can determine an amount and date to have funds automatically transferred.

2.   PayPal (Click to link to their Secure Site, a PayPal Account is not required.  The organization is charged a fee) 

3.   ZELLE: (Go to Your "On-Line" Banking Website) Locate the ZELLE service & use our email:    
Check with your Bank to understand how ZELLE works. It's usually a service on their website.  When you locate and fill out the form and you are asked for the email or phone number, use the email address, above. Make sure it's correct! No phone number is required. The next time you use Zelle, the email should pop into that field.  You can check your bank account to make  sure the transaction went through. It's Quick & Easy

4.   VENMO: We Now Accept Donations via VENMO (The Organization is charged a fee.
VENMO is a Phone App or can be used on a PC or Tablet.
You can download and install the Phone App from the Android Play Store or Apple App Store. Please follow the instructions to Sign Up. Please read and understand how VENMO works before you donate! There may be fees involved using this method.

Our ID is: @NYCRetirees2
Here is a quick Venmo  Tutorial:

Why do we need a petition to request a member-wide referendum to vote on healthcare changes?  

According to the UFT Constitution, members can demand a member-wide referendum vote on any issue other than a constitutional amendment or actions on the status of an individual member.  First, ten percent of the membership must petition the UFT executive board for a referendum, and then the executive board must bring the matter to the entire body for a member-wide vote.  Given the serious nature of the healthcare changes that have been made without member input or democratic decision-making, we must take this matter into our own hands.

So sign this petition today. We deserve a say on healthcare.

Quick Facts
  • Mulgrew voted in the Municipal Labor Committee (MLC) to force retired City workers off of traditional Medicare and onto an Aetna-managed Medicare Advantage Plan (MAP). Despite knowing full well that there was significant opposition, Mulgrew denied membership the right to vote directly. 
  • Major changes to our healthcare were made as part of our citywide contracts in 2014, and again in 2018.  Mulgrew was instrumental in negotiating both. In the last healthcare agreement, in 2018, he agreed to $600 million dollars in healthcare savings for the City for every year, in perpetuity. These changes and agreements were negotiated behind closed doors without member input. UFT chapter leaders and delegates were not given Appendix A to read beforehand which delineated the healthcare concessions when they voted in support of our 2018 contract.  
  • UFT Leadership is currently working on a mysterious new health plan for in-service members that would replace GHI with something cheaper. As of now, membership will not have a say in this decision either, or given meaningful details about our potential options.
  • Even without switching us off of GHI, UFT leadership has greenlit various new, significant healthcare expenses for in-service members without a membership vote. 
For instance:
  • ER visits now cost us triple digit copays, which are waived only if a patient is admitted, even if they are deemed to need emergency care. 
  • Copays for most urgent care centers (including CityMD) have also risen to triple digits, from $15 to $100, since 2016.
  • Major providers, such as CityMD, Montefiore, and almost all radiology centers, are no longer ‘preferred,’ leading to higher copays.
  • Despite many healthcare expenses more than doubling, UFT leadership has not fought for fair increases in pay. Because we did not even attempt to stop DC37 from accepting a sub-inflation wage increase, UFT members will not only be seeing higher health costs – they’ll be taking a pay cut
Want More Answers?

From the PSC.  A very thorough list of questions and answers
Medicare Rights- Medicare Interactive
Choosing a Medigap Policy - 2023 Medicare

Consumer reports choosing a drug plan
UFT Retiree Health Care Update May 16
Advocacy and phone counselors from Medicare Rights

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