Friday, March 11, 2022

deBlasio and Mulgrew Cannot Shaft NYC Retirees

 There have been some interesting developments concerning Mulgrew’s lies and trickery. The courts have handed him and de Blasio a big “F you”, courtesy of a lawsuit from retired teachers. The last video that I posted had an interesting comment that struck a chord. The presenter said, ‘The only way anyone could say that Medicare advantage is better than Medicare is if they were getting paid for it.’ It makes one consider the full ramification of that comment in regards to Mulgrew - a UFT President that has worked directly against his constituencies. It’s time for all teachers to vote Mulgrew out once and for all. What follows is a wonderful article from ‘The Chief’. I recommend that you all subscribe, as you are not getting any pertinent information from the ‘New York City Teacher’ - a rag of a propaganda Unity paper.

“Higher payments for opt-out illegal


A Manhattan Supreme Court Justice has ruled that the NYC Medicare Advantage Plus plan scheduled to take effect April 1was illegal as constituted because it placed a greater financial burden on retirees who elected to stay in the current Senior Care program by making them pay  $191 monthly for doing so.

Justice Lyle Frank stated in his four-page decision issued March 3 that the city was required under its Administrative Code to "pay the entire cost of health insurance coverage for city employees, city retirees and their dependents, not to exceed one hundred percent of the full cost  of H.I.P.-H.M.O. on a category basis," referring to the basic city health-coverage standard.

'The Sword is Gone'

An attorney for the 4,000-member Organization of Public Service Retirees, Steven Cohen, said shortly after the ruling was issued, "The sword that the city held over retirees is now gone," referring to the financial pressure they would have felt to participate in the new program rather than face $2,300 in annual costs under the monthly charge.

Mayor Adams withheld comment on the ruling regarding the deal negotiated by his predecessor with the Municipal Labor Committee, but late March 4 city Corporate Counsel Sylvia Hinds-Radix said in a statement that the city "filed a notice of appeal today and is seeking a stay on the court's decision while the appeal is considered." 

But the United Federation of Teachers reacted by withdrawing its support for the Medicare Advantage Plus plan, which had been expected to save the two sides $600 million annually in health-care costs.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew had previously joined with MLC Chairman Harry Nespoli, who is also president of the Uniformed Sanitationmen's Association, in acknowledging that a key reason for the deal was that it would free additional money for union contract negotiations. Both had noted that for two decades employee raises had been limited because of soaring health-care costs.

In a statement that took a swipe at city attorneys, Mr. Mulgrew said, "While the NYC Medicare Advantage Plus plan is sound, the program has suffered from serious implementation problems and poor legal arguments, particularly on the part of the city."

Urges MLC to Hold Off

He continued, "Our retirees deserve better," and said the union would urge the M:C "to suspend its efforts to begin the program until all the implementation and legal issues are resolved."

Mr. Nespoli said in a phone interview the following morning, "We have to see what the city's going to do, whether they're going to appeal [the ruling] or not. Why would we move forward if we don't know where we're going?"

He contended that "the retiree group really doesn't understand the benefits of Medicare Advantage," saying that the plan devised under the agreement between the city and the MLC "is a very good program. The plan could save money while being in a position to help retirees and active members."

Mr. Nespoli said he expected to convene a meeting of MLC officers over the next week, because "we have to evaluate what happened" before deciding on a course of action.

Retirees' Attorney Elated 

"I guess you can beat City Hall after all," Mr. Cohen said in a phone interview, praising the "energy and dedication" the retiree group devoted to its drive against the plan, which it launched last spring, prior to a final agreement being reached on the new program in mid-July by the de Blasio administration and the MLC.

City and union officials found themselves responding to retiree concerns that Medicare Advantage plans in other jurisdictions had not been better than traditional Medicare, restricted retirees' choice of doctors and imposed additional out-of-pocket charges. They insisted that in designing a plan that would offer additional savings, they had nonetheless produced a program that would be equal to or slightly better than the current Senior Care for municipal retirees who were 65 or older.

Many retirees were skeptical, however: according to Mr. Cohen, more than 50,000 from a group of roughly 250,000 had opted out prior to Justice Frank's ruling. The $191-per-month charge for those choosing to stay in Senior Care was viewed as the city's way of using a disincentive for staying in to get the great majority of retirees to switch to NYC Medicare Advantage Plus.

Judge: Can't Be Unequal

Justice Frank said that under his reading of the Administrative Code, the city wasn't required to give retirees a choice of plans, and if the cost of a plan exceeded the prescribed amount, officials could "pass along the cost above the threshold to the retiree, [but] if there is to be an option of more than one plan, that the respondent may not pass any cost of the prior plan to the retirees." He wrote that it was his understanding that Senior Care did not exceed the threshold. 

For that reason, he said, he was permanently barring the city from "passing along any costs of the New York City retirees' current plan to the retiree or to any of their dependents," and that all retirees were required to pay just a single deductible for the remainder of this year.

Mr. Cohen said the Mayor could salvage the new program "and still save $300 million through a negotiation." It was not clear, however, that the city and the unions could work out an acceptable alternative.

However necessary savings in health-care costs were, he said, "You can't do it on the backs of retirees. They can't do it legally, and they can't do it ethically."

The retirees' attorney continued, "Everybody knew [Medicare Advantage Plus] wasn't better" than Senior Care. "It was like trying to put lipstick on a pig."

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