PSC Call for Postponement of Upcoming Municipal Labor Committee Vote on Changes to Retiree Health Insurance

Updated: July 22, 2021
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On Wednesday, July 14, the Municipal Labor Committee (MLC) voted to sign a contract with the NYC Office of Labor Relations (OLR) to move city retirees, including CUNY retirees, from traditional Medicare with supplemental city insurance to administration by a for-profit Medicare Advantage group plan. Click here for more information.

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Contact: Fran Clark, fclark@pscmail.org

CUNY’s Professional Staff Congress Issues Statement Calling for Postponement of Upcoming Municipal Labor Committee Vote on Changes to Retiree Health Insurance

New York, NY – Only days after announcing the proposed contract, the Municipal Labor Committee (MLC) is poised to vote on a measure announced in conjunction with the NYC Office of Labor Relations (OLR) to move more than 250,000 municipal retirees from a traditional Medicare plan administered by the Federal government to a Medicare Advantage plan managed by private companies. The Professional Staff Congress - representing 30,000 faculty and staff at CUNY - urged the MLC to delay the vote scheduled for July 14 and issued the following statement from James Davis, President:

“Our members are deeply troubled by the MLC’s rush to vote on this proposal. Five days is not enough time to consult on such a consequential decision. Although the MLC agreed to work with the City on healthcare savings measures in 2015 and 2018, this vote to seek savings through the retiree medical plan comes at a time when the City can well afford to pursue alternatives. This austerity measure opens the door to further cost-cutting and diminished benefits in future contracts.

“We are concerned by the closed nature of the negotiations. Municipal retirees should have a chance to review the agreement and engage with their representatives to the MLC before a vote. MLC unions have not been provided with a copy of the contract with the proposed vendor.

“The MLC and OLR could pursue alternatives to achieve healthcare savings. While a single-payer healthcare system that recognizes the contributions of municipal employees would be ultimately better for all New Yorkers, including our members, other more immediately achievable measures could substantially reduce health care costs without placing the quality and affordability of retiree healthcare at risk. Skyrocketing hospital costs and prescription drug charges are two areas where the MLC and OLR could exercise stringent accountability and achieve savings.

Retirees need to know how this change will impact their health coverage. They should understand which doctors and hospitals they will be able to visit and what costs they are likely to incur. The details of the proposed agreement, the role of federal subsidies in incentivizing privatization, and the rationale for rejecting alternatives to a shift to Medicare Advantage should all be reviewed.

“Whatever its provisions, a plan to shift the cost-saving burden to union members and municipal employees does not bode well for the future. Higher costs may be demanded of union members down the line. The answer is not privatization. It is to continue Labor’s fight for a single-payer public healthcare system and a system for New York that serves municipal workers fairly. Until then, it is important to take a step back and look at options that can make that goal a reality.”

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