Wednesday, May 22, 2024

WE WON! AGAIN! Came through as RTC Meeting Began, Mulgrew Refuses to Read my "Lies" - er - Leaflet Exposing Aetna

Michael Mulgrew can't handle the truth.

Today I head back to the city for the DA where I will give out the same leaflet I handed out yesterday based on the Wendell Potter article on Aetna/CVS plans to shun members they can't make enough money on

It got a good reception. 

But not from Mulgrew.

When I attempted to hand him some truths about the company he has been pushing as the greatest thing since pumpernickel he refused to take it saying "I don't want more of your lies." The bad news on Aetna exposes the misinformation coming out of Mulgrew. A guy got up at the meeting yesterday to point to how he found out something in Emblem that has saved him thousands of dollars. He didn't accuse them directly but before the meeting he told me he had tried to tell the UFT about what he found  - deaf ears. A woman pointed out that with MulgrewCare it would cost her $8000 more in drug costs. 

Mulgrew's reaction indicates his state of mind - as does the general Unity state of mind - desperate to hold onto power and threatened for the first time with 3 Consequential Elections. TRS is over - sort of. With so many violations of the law, there may be protests from both sides. The para and retiree chapter elections are on full bore.

Arthur update:

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

I reported on the upcoming Retired Teacher Chapter meeting yesterday:

The big news as the meeting began was a major win (and loss for Unity leaders) on healthcare.

Just before the meeting began we heard about the win in court. Someone got up before Murphy started the meeting to announce the court win -- to some applause but not much, given the Unity crowd. I called out - "info you won't get from the leadership at this meeting." Boy, did the Unity gang look like they had egg on their faces.

As usual, the meeting was loaded with fluff. There were about 230 people who signed up in person -- though it looked like less had shown up --- still a heavy Unity crowd. And about 1200 on line. Murphy loaded the meeting with speakers, as usual, to avoid having to face the music on healthcare. LeRoy spoke and they had some City Council members do filler. They also gave out free Biden/Harris tee-shirts and I took one for my wife.

I had my hand up for much of the meeting but Murphy made sure to avoid me. Oh the look on his face when he looks my way. At one point a woman in the back row called out, "Why won't you call on him. He comes to every meeting and raises his hand." When Mulgrew talked about the reforms to Tier 6 I wanted to yell out "point of information" to ask why the UFT endorsed Micah Lasher the architect of the Bloomberg campaign for Tier 6. But I was being civil.
Murphy accidentally called on me once and then realized his mistake. I got two words out and he said, "What's the question?" And they want civility. 

At the end he said he would take a few for the Good and Welfare part of the meeting, where you can say anything you want. But not in Murphyville. He declared you can only announce an event. So I had my hand up to announce an event: right after the meeting I would be outside to read my leaflet out loud. But Murphy adjourned the meeting. It was 2:15 and the meeting was supposed to last until 3. Oh so much civility. 

Here are reports on the court case, which we note that in the court the UFT lawyer consulted with the city lawyers, so no matter what they say watch what they do. They oppose the court action.

Late breaking: The city will try a final appeal but they have to have the court say it is OK, which I feel they will do. And Mulgrew and the Unity gang will be along to pray we lose so they can institute they plan to offer us a pay for choice plan.

Free is better.


Today, the Appellate Division, First Department, of the NYS Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the retirees’ victory in the class action case of Bentkowski et al. v. City of New York.
This is the so-called nuclear option case dating from July 6, 2023, in which Judge Lyle Frank ruled that NYC municipal retirees are entitled to Medicare and supplemental medigap coverage, fully paid for by the City of New York. The full statement of the ruling can be read here.

What's Next?
Marianne Pizzitola, founder of the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees, the group that initiated the lawsuit, posted a Facebook interview with Jake Gardener, the lead attorney on the case. Asked what the City's next steps might be, Gardener speculated:
  • The City could seek permission to appeal to the Court of Appeals, which is the highest court in the state. But because the decision of the First Department was unanimous, very detailed (10 pages long as opposed to the more usual 1 or 2 pages), and thoroughly considered (over 2 months to make a decision as opposed to the more usual 2 or 3 weeks), he thought permission would likely be denied.
  • The City could ask permission to reargue the case before the First Department. This is a move that is only rarely taken, and seems unlikely given the weight of the court’s decision today.
Still to Come
Two other cases are still pending.
  • NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees v. Renee Campion: Judge Lyle Frank ruled that the City’s attempt to force retirees to pay for their own medigap coverage was a violation of NYC Administrative Code 12-126. This case is currently in the Court of Appeals.
  • Margaretann Bianculli et al v. City of New York Office of Labor Relations et al.: The City tried to levy a copay against retirees for each medical encounter. This case is currently before both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals.
Now What?
On the Facebook video, Marianne, Gardener, and our other stalwart lawyer, Steve Cohen, emphasized that the real power behind all these cases is us. We the retirees have done our research, sent in affidavits, testified before City Council, turned up in court, turned out in the streets. We have donated out of our own pockets (and must continue to do so!). This fight is not just for ourselves alone, but for future City retirees – and for all those facing the financialized behemoth that is Health USA.

New York Appellate Division Affirms City Retirees’ Right to Promised Medicare Benefits

Today’s Ruling Bars City From Forcing Retirees off of Traditional Medicare

NEW YORK, May 21, 2024  — Today, the New York Appellate Division issued a unanimous decision holding that the City of New York cannot force its roughly 250,000 elderly and disabled retired municipal workers off of their longstanding Medicare insurance and onto an inferior type of insurance called “Medicare Advantage.”  Unlike Medicare—a public program that has protected City retirees for the past 57 years—the City’s proposed new Medicare Advantage plan was a private, for-profit endeavor that would have limited retirees’ access to medical providers, prevented retirees from receiving care prescribed by their doctors, and exposed retirees to increased healthcare costs.

The Court confirmed what retirees have been arguing for months: that they are entitled to the healthcare they were promised for over 50 years.  These retirees built their lives around this healthcare promise.  As the Court ruled today, denying retirees this healthcare would imperil their lives and violate the law.

The decision is available here.

Jake Gardener, a partner at Walden Macht & Haran LLP, counsel to the retirees, says, “We are grateful to the Court for recognizing the healthcare rights of retired City workers.  Because of the Court’s thoughtful, well-reasoned decision, hundreds of thousands of senior citizens and disabled first responders will be able to receive the medical care they desperately need.”

Marianne Pizzitola, President of the New York City Organization of Public Service Retirees, one of the lead plaintiffs, states, “Retired City workers dedicated, and in many cases risked, their lives for the City for relatively low pay.  In return, they were promised certain basic healthcare benefits when they retired.  The City’s attempt to break that 57-year promise is shameful and, as the Court ruled today, unlawful.”   

Steve Cohen, a partner at Pollock Cohen LLP, also counsel to the retirees, says, “The City owes these retirees a debt of gratitude for their service.  Instead, it has been trying to deny them the healthcare they were always promised.  Fortunately, retirees fought back and they won.”



Laura Genovese said...

Excellent recap Norm! I celebrated with gusto yesterday! Can you imagine not being happy over this win?! Michael Mulgrew and Tom Murphy have became a cancer to UFT. Can you imagine how sane our RTC Meetings would be if the Retiree Advocate caucus win this election?! This month we focus on Murphy! Keep asking all to vote Retiree Advocate and let's keep donating to our amazing Marianne Pizzitola and her incredible NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees!

Anonymous said...

I wondered who it was who dared to grab Mulgrew's attention at the beginning of the meeting- should have known it was Norm The Lion- Hearted!
They ran outta there @:2:15pm like their pants were on fire!!!
What a cabal of losers...

Martin Haber said...

They ran outta there like their pants were on fire!

Anonymous said...

Thanks soo much for your hard work in addition to your keeping us informed about such pertinent information. I'm going to start contributing to Marianne & so should all retirees.