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Home » Clarion » 2023 » October 2023 » Another victory for retiree health care

Another victory for retiree health care

Court stops Adams once againBy Ari Paul

The PSC is fighting to protect retiree health care. (Credit: Scott Heins)

The PSC is fighting to protect retiree health care. (Credit: Scott Heins)

It’s Groundhog Day for Mayor Eric Adams.

The mayor – obsessed with unnecessarily slashing city spending at the expense of municipal workers and retirees as well as the rest of the public – has repeatedly sought to move retiree health benefits into a privately managed plan. Retirees have fought back, never giving up even when the press and political leaders effectively said the fight was over. And retirees keep winning.

BACK AND FORTH

After Manhattan Judge Lyle Frank ruled last December that the City had to pay for Medicare and ordered it to stop trying to force retirees into Medicare Advantage by charging them nearly $200 a month for Medicare Supplemental Insurance (Senior Care), the City said the judge’s decision allowed them to force retirees into Medicare Advantage by eliminating the City’s decades-long commitment to offering and paying for Medicare supplemental insurance.

But this summer, retirees went to court and won, again, before the same judge.

Judge Frank, according to the online newspaper The City, issued a ruling in August “‘permanently’ prohibiting New York City from switching its 250,000 retired employees and their elderly or disabled dependents to a privatized Medicare Advantage plan managed by Aetna.”

The City added that “Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lyle Frank sided with city retirees, finding merit to their argument that the planned switchover violated longstanding guarantees by the City that every active and retired city worker is entitled to city-funded health care through a combination of Medicare and other supplemental insurance.”

The PSC has been outspoken in its opposition to any policy change that would jeopardize retiree health benefits.

Anne Friedman, the PSC Retirees Chapter chair, told Clarion, “PSC retirees are heartened and relieved by yet another legal victory in the fight against privatizing our traditional Medicare and supplemental care.

“Together with retirees across the city and on numerous fronts – our retirees continue to express their outrage, frustration and angst as City Hall insists that a notorious company like Aetna, whose primary motive is to make money, will serve us as well or better than our current health-care plan. With Aetna under investigation for fraud against the federal government, it is an insult to retirees’ intelligence to expect that we can have confidence in a plan they offer. The PSC has offered alternative routes to addressing some real financial problems that the City faces and City leaders should consider them seriously.”

COMPTROLLERS SUPPORT

City Comptroller Brad Lander called the ruling “a win for the many retirees who fought for the health care that they worked so hard for and were promised,” adding, “When the Medicare Advantage contract was submitted to us this spring, our office declined to register it because we were concerned that litigation raised doubts about the City’s authority to enter into the contract.”

The Adams administration, however, is undeterred and has appealed the decision. The PSC and other unions agree that the city government should take proactive steps to rein in out-of-control health-care costs, but that should not be at the expense of city workers. Council Member Tiffany Cabán embraced the judge’s decision, saying on X (formerly known as Twitter) that “Making our healthcare system financially sustainable requires passing universal public health insurance, not reneging on our city’s promises to retirees.”


Published: September 27, 2023

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