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Home » Clarion » 2023 » March 2023 » Union fights for retiree coverage

Union fights for retiree coverage

PSC offers alternative plan By ARI PAUL

 

Medicare Rally

PSC members rally outside a City Council hearing on Medicare Advantage, which members said would reduce coverage for retirees. (Credit: Erik McGregor)

As Clarion reported in January, after an arbitrator ruled that the Municipal Labor Committee (MLC) and the City should reach a deal with Aetna in order to move municipal retirees into a privately administered Medicare Advantage plan, the City administration insisted that the City Council change the law in order to allow the City to charge a premium to retirees who choose to stay in Senior Care.

Retiree activists have resisted any plan that would force them to choose between privatized care and paying monthly premiums to keep their existing benefits. In January, after a lengthy hearing on the matter, the Daily News reported that City Council leaders announced that there is “no plan to pass a bill pushed by Mayor Eric Adams that would allow his administration to charge retired municipal workers for health insurance.

NO CODE CHANGE

For the union, this was good news. The PSC was one of the affiliate members of the MLC that opposed the move to Medicare Advantage from the get-go, and PSC President James Davis testified at the January hearing, speaking against the proposed administrative code change. But persuading the Council to preserve the administrative code did not resolve the matter. City Hall is still seeking health-care savings by forcing retirees into Medicare Advantage through the elimination of Senior Care.

The union has urged the City Council to find alternative retiree health-care plans.

Former PSC President Barbara Bowen and Barbara Caress, an adjunct assistant professor of health policy at Baruch College and the former director of strategic policy and planning at SEIU Local 32BJ, outlined the proposal in a Daily News op-ed. The proposal would:

  • “Keep premium-free Senior Care in place along with traditional Medicare while buying time to develop a sustainable solution. The City can address the immediate crisis while maintaining benefits over three years by redirecting [a portion of the $4.9 billion surplus identified by the New York City Independent Budget Office].
  • “Create a stakeholders’ commission charged with finding a path, before the temporary funding is depleted, to reducing hospital prices. The Council should appoint a commission of elected officials, leaders and members of the Municipal Labor Committee, representatives of hospitals and hospital workers, health providers, insurance companies, and elected retiree representatives.
  • “End the City’s reliance on unstable and outdated funding mechanisms and rethink how the City pays for health insurance.
  • “Affirm the right of the MLC to bargain about health insurance.”

The PSC has been lobbying City Council members to solve the issue swiftly, before the City completes a deal that would deprive retirees of their traditional Medicare and supplemental Senior Care benefit as it forces them into privatized Medicare Advantage. The City is reportedly close to finalizing a contract with Aetna.


Published: March 9, 2023

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