PSC members, both active and retired, joined other municipal workers in outrage at City Hall’s contract with private insurer Aetna to cover all municipal retirees.
The move comes after years of organizing against a plan by City Hall to move retiree health coverage into a privately managed plan in order to reduce health-care costs. (The PSC is a voting member of the Municipal Labor Committee, but has been in the minority of affiliated member unions in opposing the plan.)
Politico reported, “The five-plus year contract will go into effect Sept. 1. Retirees who are currently enrolled in the city’s Senior Care plan will automatically be transferred to the Medicare Advantage plan. Retirees have been urging the Adams administration to select ‘Option C,’ a provision that would have allowed them to remain on traditional Medicare at no additional cost. When asked if the city is considering ‘Option C,’ a City Hall spokesperson said, No.”
Cecelia McCall, a PSC retiree delegate, told a crowd gathered outside City Hall that retirees were inspired by French trade unionists striking and demonstrating against their government’s move to raise the retirement age.
“We are as strong and determined as the French. Just like them, we will not give up until we have the health care we were promised,” she said. “The city has reneged on a contract they had with us when we were active workers. The bargain was sacrifice wages now but when you retire and when you need it most, you will have public, premium-free, quality health care.”
She blasted the idea of privately managed health care for municipal retirees.
“Their bottom line is more important than our lives,” she said. “They will make a profit by denying care.”
The PSC said in a statement: “Mayor Adams missed an opportunity to honor the city’s most essential promise to retirees when he signed the Medicare Advantage contract between the city and Aetna. He had the option to continue traditional Medicare with high-quality, premium-free Medicare supplemental insurance (Senior Care), while still saving the city more than $300 million annually. But he chose not to do so. And now, as we fight on for retirees, we note Commissioner [Renee] Campion’s communication to Municipal Labor Committee leaders that legislation, litigation or ‘some other event’ could still compel the city to offer retirees the choice of traditional Medicare plus premium-free Medicare supplemental insurance.”
It continued, “The city’s current approach to funding health care is flawed, and Medicare Advantage does not offer a permanent solution. Rising hospital and prescription drug costs mean Medicare Advantage will not solve the funding shortfalls. Public-sector workers – active and retired – should oppose further privatization of our health care and erosion of benefits. Hospital price controls, self-insurance, cooperative drug purchasing, accountability mechanisms for insurance companies and other cost-saving measures that are proving effective in other municipalities must be pursued here.
Published: April 26, 2023