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PSC Files Amicus Brief Supporting Retirees’ Right to Medicare

January 5, 2024

The PSC has filed a motion to submit a friend of the court brief in support of an injunction against an effort by the City of New York to force City retirees out of traditional Medicare into a privatized “Medicare Advantage” plan.    

Read the PSC’s amicus brief.  

“The PSC is committed to holding the City to its promise to provide workers with not-for-profit, Medicare-based healthcare coverage in retirement. We believe Justice Frank’s ruling should stand and that the solution to increasing municipal healthcare costs must not be for the City to break faith with retirees or pass costs on to in-service workers,” said PSC President James Davis. 

For decades, the City has paid for retirees’ Medicare Supplemental Insurance under a municipal statute that requires the City to pay the “entire cost” of retiree health coverage, up to an amount set in the statute.  In its friend of the court, or amicus, brief to the appellate court hearing the appeal of the lower court injunction, PSC argues that the statute at issue, section 12-126 of the City Administrative Code, sets a “floor” on the City’s contribution to the cost of retiree health coverage, and that the transition to Medicare Advantage shifts costs to retirees in violation of the statute.  

“The City cannot bargain away such an unambiguous statutory protection,” the union argued in the brief. “PSC’s retirees represent precisely the type of vulnerable population that the court found would be irreparably harmed by the implementation of the new plan.” 

The PSC argued that while the Municipal Labor Committee (MLC) can negotiate health benefits with the City on behalf of retirees from MLC unions, the City and the MLC do not have the authority to agree to impose costs on retirees in violation of the City code.   

Last spring, Mayor Adams sought to persuade the City Council to amend the City code to eliminate the floor on the City’s contribution to retiree health coverage, but the Council refused to do so. The Mayor nevertheless moved forward with the effort to force City retirees into Medicare Advantage, and a group of retirees went to court to stop the move.  The decision issued last summer by Manhattan judge Lyle Frank permanently enjoined the City from forcing retirees into Medicare Advantage, based in part on the City’s violation of section 12-126 of the Administrative Code. The City appealed that decision, prompting the PSC to seek leave of the court to file its amicus brief. 

The Professional Staff Congress/CUNY (PSC) is the  union representing 30,000 in-service and retired faculty and professional staff of the City University of New York and the CUNY Research Foundation. 



Published: January 5, 2024

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