WHAT WE CAN DO
WHAT'S HAPPENING TO RETIREE HEALTHCARE? 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, privatized Medicare Advantage plan. This will have huge implications for present and future retirees.
Prior to the vote, on Tuesday, July 13, the PSC organized an online forum on Tuesday, July 13 attended by 800 current and future retirees where members raised issues, concerns, and questions about the move to Medicare Advantage. (A video of the forum is available here to PSC members only.)
Meanwhile, the PSC put out a press release on Monday, July 12 entitled PSC Call for Postponement of Upcoming Municipal Labor Committee Vote on Changes to Retiree Health Insurance. Click here to read it. The vote was not postponed and took place as scheduled on Wednesday, July 14, despite the fact that the PSC had not seen the contract and that PSC and other municipal retirees affected by the change had scant information about the new plan.
We have created a web page with updates and links to key documents, video of two important chapter meetings, reporting and analysis in our April and May newsletters, and possible actions in response to the proposed move. The web page is at:
POSSIBLE ACTIONS TO PRESERVE RETIREE HEALTHCARE
June 30 March and Rally. On the hottest day of the year, PSC retirees and future retirees joined retirees and future retirees from across the municipal workforce for a rally at Bowling Green and march to City Hall. Several hundred marched, including a few with canes and walkers -- "summer soldiers" in blistering heat demanding that the MLC and OLR call for a moratorium in negotiations, make their deliberations transparent and listen to the voices of the 250,000 municipal retirees affected. There were stops at unions along the march route (UFT and PSC) and the NYC Office of Labor Relations Two PSC retirees were among the speakers -- Eileen Moran and Nancy Romer. Here is a short video of the march and rally.
SIGN THE PETITION: We have been working with the Council of Municipal Retiree Organizations (COMRO) on mobilizing municipal retirees in response to the proposed move to Medicare Advantage. COMRO has an online petition addressed to the mayor and the MLC entitled “Preserve Medicare Part B for NYC Retirees.” Sign it! Share it! Mobilize others to sign including in-service (“retirees-in-training”) members of the PSC and other city unions. [Over 24,300 had signed as of 7/13/21.]
CALL INTO THE BRIAN LEHRER SHOW TO ASK THE MAYOR: Every Friday at 11 am there is an”Ask the Mayor” segment. If lots of folk call in, hopefully one or two will get on. Call 646-435-7280.
TESTIFY AT A PUBLIC HEARING: Hopefully it does not come to this, but if NYC and the MLC sign an agreement on Medicare Advantage, the city’s Department of Contracts must hold a hearing before a contract is signed. We’ll need hundreds of retirees and “retirees in-training” from municipal unions to testify.
COLLECT INFORMATION ON MEDICARE ADVANTAGE. Will your Medicare provider accept a passive PPO Medicare Advantage plan? Do you have stories from colleagues or friends who had difficulty accessing services and/or incurred out of pocket costs? You can provide us with this information by going to:
RAISE THE ISSUE WITH CURRENT AND PROSPECTIVE CITY OFFICIALS: The mayor, comptroller, and city council members and those standing for those offices in the June ranked choice primary.
WRITE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Your local community paper, the CHIEF (covering labor and city politics), Daily News, NYT.
While the Chief is not a large circulation weekly, its audience is important. It is widely read by labor leaders and city officials. It also prints a lot of the letters it receives. You can email your letter to their general email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) or mail it to the Chief-Leader, 277 Broadway, New York, NY 10007.
Here is a sample letter. Edit as you see fit and try to put it in your own distinctive voice:
To the Editor,
I have learned that the City of New York and the Municipal Labor Committee are in the process of awarding a highly lucrative contract to a major health insurance company to take over administering health insurance for over 250,000 Medicare eligible municipal labor retirees effective this Fall.
Nowhere in this process has the City or MLC consulted with the 250,000 people and their families to determine how it will help or harm us.
We are concerned that these types of managed care programs have a history of making it difficult to choose doctors and specialists.
The lack of transparency in this rush to change this program is insulting and frightening to those of us who have collectively worked millions of years serving people of New York City.
Before this contract is awarded, the MLC must include actual recipients in the evaluation process to ensure that transferring our Medicare A & B coverage into a Medicare Advantage C plan will not harm us.
If we had the New York Health Act, such cost cutting would not be needed.
(As a final paragraph, you could briefly include your personal medical concerns.)
AND LET'S BUILD ON THE MOMENTUM OF TWO BIG JUNE FORUMS:
FORUM: THURSDAY, JUNE 17, 7 PM. City to Retirees: Private Health Care ─ Take It or Leave It! More than 650 people attended this webinar. The NY Metro Chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) presented a program examining the proposed move of municipal retirees from traditional Medicare to a private, for profit, Medicare Advantage Plan. The forum reached out to municipal retirees, but it also took the story to a much wider audience. There was analysis by health care professionals and economists and a report on pushback by NYC retirees. PSC retirees playd a prominent rolein the program.
There was also a roadmap presented of future actions and pushback against NYC/MLC proposed healthcare moves. Here is a link to a video of the forum:
HOW DO WE STOP THE MOVE OF MUNICIPAL RETIREES TO MEDICARE ADVANTAGE? More than 600 attendees participated in a meeting on Thursday, June 24 via Zoom. Panelists representing a cross-section of NYC retirees and unions discussed actions we can take in opposition to the proposed move of municipal retirees from traditional Medicare to a private, for-profit, Medicare Advantage Plan. There was a robust question and answer period with lots of suggestions about how we can push back. The webinar was hosted by the NY StateWide Senior Action Council. Once again, PSC retirees played an important role in the program. Next step: Building for the June 30 rally (see below)