July 25, 2022
As you know, the proposed contract that the City and the Municipal Labor Committee (MLC) agreed to last year with Anthem/Empire to administer retiree health insurance through Medicare Advantage Plus (MA+) faces a court challenge. I’m writing with an update not on the litigation itself, which is ongoing, but on the information that the Municipal Labor Committee provided last week about the status of that contract. Anthem/Empire has withdrawn and is no longer willing to administer the MA+ program. They asked the City and the MLC to guarantee a January 1, 2023 start date for the program. It was not possible to make that guarantee because of the pending litigation, so Anthem/Empire withdrew.
Many of you know that the PSC was one of five MLC unions that opposed the MA+ contract with Anthem/Empire, and we continue to advocate for alternatives to MA+. This development is a setback for the City and MLC in their effort to achieve cost savings through a MA+ retiree health care program. But many MLC unions remain committed to an MA+ plan in some form, even if it is not with Anthem/Empire. It is likely that MA+ is still on the table – some MLC leaders have indicated this publicly, but there has not been a meeting yet to discuss it.
We will continue to advocate for alternative solutions to the very real problem of skyrocketing health care costs facing the City and therefore the MLC, from hospital charges, to prescription drug prices, and more. Some of us recently participated in the AFT biennial meeting, where a resolution the PSC brought opposing the privatization of Medicare elicited a spirited debate. Although the resolution did not pass, one of the meeting’s keynote speakers, Dr. Claudia M. Fegan, national coordinator for Physicians for a National Health Program, echoed many of our positions. The PSC has a deep well of resources and expertise among our members on which to draw as we press this struggle forward. I will keep you updated as further developments emerge.
James Davis, President