Tuesday, May 04, 2021


President Michael Mulgrew greeted the retirees. Apologizes for not having more information out there as negotiations continue on an RFP. Our lawyers said not to release information but other unions put out more information. Healthcare is 1A with wages. Received emails.

Municipal Labor Committee negotiations on healthcare costs are always ongoing. Our goal is not to diminish benefits. Michael Bloomberg strategy was to let costs spiral out of control and then diminish benefits. We had to hold tight through stabilization fund. PICA drugs which people need in a health crisis are needed by sickest individuals. We want to keep premium free healthcare which almost nobody else has. Under de Blasio, there has been a lot of negotiations but year-to-year costs have been going up even faster than under Bloomberg. Was a HIP baby as my father was sanitation worker. HIP building back and not so worried about bonuses. Forced new workers into HIP and now 95% stay in HIP. We save a lot of money from that. We use money we save into stabilization and to fund and to fund raises.

RFP on PICA, we were very tough negotiating and saved $300,000,000 Healthcare front and center in fight. We want to keep all doctors and everything else. We use our buying power to keep what we have and put more into stabilization fund. 

Some emails are just not true. Have met our obligations for contract we are already in. UFT officers do not have a different medical plan than everyone else. People using things that are factually wrong for their own purposes. How do we get to a better place?

Senior care program when city shut down. Medicare part A and Medicare Part B and Medigap. Costs going way up on senior care. Discussions stopped because of COVID. Question: How do we maintain what we have and use buying power to benefit retirees? We had a major fight with NY Presbyterian. Hypothetically, x-rays being used on the same machine were charging $1400 while others were charging $400. We and the city do healthcare together. There are too many of us. We are not the rest of the United States. We are not going to be lambs to the slaughter. We agreed with the city to get back to the insurance companies to audit the hospitals. We bring large numbers of people. 250,000 in senior care and 1.3 million active members. 

Two things to clear up. I hate the name Medicare Advantage. Medicare risk plans from 1990s and 200s that were bad plans. Individuals going medicare individual plans on their own are what people are complaining about. Any plan that would net accept Medicare, we are not interested in. Preserve premium free and access to doctors. Reduce costs and that money has to go back to healthcare stabilization fund for our benefits. If we pay $100 and it goes down to $80, the money goes back to us for benefits. Medicare Advantage Group plan. The city and the city unions are the group. We don't want the off the shelf plan. We are telling insurance companies we have 250,000 in plan and we want to know what you will do for us.

How do they make money? Part A and Part B, last 20% picked up by the city. City does not get federal reimbursement because it is not covered. We are entitled to some reimbursement in the group that could come back to the stabilization fund. This will stop us from doing something crazy two or three years from now. NYC public employees are the only people with premium free healthcare in the United States. It is not free. What we have we have paid for and we continue to pay for it. At the end of every year, people at the MLC have a list of everything that has been utilized. We then adjust rates. Prices keep going up. That's why we have embarked on this process. If we do nothing, two or three years from now we will be in a bad position. We have fought and paid for too much over the years. If we can now say that by moving to this kind of plan, the process is not done, if we get everything we want in writing so we can continue to have premium-free healthcare with more or the same benefits, we can do it or we can say no. Each union in the MLC gets a vote. Put all of the unions together and trying to figure out how to get things done is tough but it has served us well. We're trying to create more revenue and keep the benefits we have. We saved money on PICA. Using our power, we tell Emblem we need a better process.

Why would someone want this business? How can I be assured they are trying to do the best by our members? Federal government more than happy to give people money to manage it. Group plans, the group gets set up with x number of dollars for every person and then the real money is if the people within the group are satisfied. They get money with a 4-star platform. Reads an email, non politically motivated. If we do this transition, there will be no additional costs. We as a group are telling the insurance company that this is what we want. On Empire for supplemental coverage, will it be impacted? No. Could we go back to senior care plan? No, if we go in this direction. You would have to pick up $170. The process is to wait for the mediator to decide and then the MLC would decide and it would be brought back to this group. We are driving everyone in the industry nuts. We have to make sure everything is in writing and everything is assured to us. Most pick up 365-day hospital rider. We think it should be covered for the year. RX rider should be covered. No cap for out-of-pocket. Some families hit really, really hard. How do we get a cap? We deal with this system personally taking care of my wife and my mothers. Lots of out of pocket costs. You can go to any doctor that takes Medicare. Some hospitals we are not going forward unless we can get full coverage from them. Presentation yesterday at MLC so now free to talk a little more about it.

Fight with NY Presbyterian worked so we should be okay with them. We need a standing committee on healthcare in retiree chapters and with in-service people too. Loves that we are in this fight. We believe everyone should have premium-free healthcare. If we play by their rules, this ends in us losing. We are getting super aggressive. Keep benefits, reduce costs and have savings go back to us. Joint labor-management committee to monitor everything within the system. Fought hard and are proud of it. We can preserve these rights for generations and generations until the federal government does something about drug costs and hospital costs. Our fight is to make sure we keep this benefit. it is the entire MLC that does this. In service healthcare contract is coming up next year. Emails have pushed things into our negotiations. Questions guide us.

Question: Phased in or come at once?

Mulgrew answer: It's not finalized so we can't say now.

Question: What is the MLC?

Answer: Municipal Labor Council is all the unions negotiating as a group on healthcare. That's police, sanitation, CSA, others and us. 

Question: Live in Oakland, California, how would we be affected?

Answer: All Medicare doctors will take it and can go to another Medicare doctor if yours retires. 98% of doctors take Medicare.

Question: Daughter in college on my GHI. What would happen with her coverage?

Answer: Writing it down. Doesn't think there will be a problem with that. Will ask that question. We put that into new plan. Should be fine.

Question: If we switch over, would we still get a part B reimbursement every spring?

Answer: Yes

Question: Part A and Part B gets paid for by the federal government if enrolled (Mulgrew says 6,000 aren't enrolled), government said for big firms and cities to administer plans. Express Scripps, would there be a problem if they moved that?

Answer: That won't be a problem.

Question: Particulars important, committee on healthcare to meet and be strong. Is that different from joint labor-management committee? 

Answer: Retiree chapter should set that up, can't tell chapter what to do. Joint committee of MLC would need a retiree and in-service member. These battles are not stopping. Hospitals ask for 18% increase and only raise it 9% like they did us a favor. Non-profit CEO with $9 million salary and millions in bonuses. Hospitals got billions of dollars from federal government in COVID. 

Question: Parent of developmentally disabled man in his fifties. Accept Medicare. Will we be negotiating with smaller facilities?

Answer: They will have to accept it. Can use a facility outside of Medicare in senior care  and we will make sure they can be used.

Question: In negotiating, have to give like new members in HIP. Instead of having people go into HIP for one year, make it 3-5 years to add to supplemental program?

Answer: Everyone when we negotiated this thought that nobody would want to go into HIP. New CEO said she was doing what she could for to improve it. That will be on the table for the next negotiation.

Question: Retiring this year, will offices be open for a pension consultation?

Answer: They are open now.  

Question: Would be losing UFT welfare fund dental and optical?

Answer: No, but we could lose more if the stabilization fund is depleted. 

Question: When is negotiation going to be over and when will we get a printout of the decision?

Answer: We have still have questions with the mediator from our bid. The mediator makes a decision and then we will bring to you what is in that plan. Decision then on what the UFT vote will be at the MLC.

Question: Live in Florida on west coast, programs for Medicare and Medicare Advantage. Florida Medicare is different that anyplace else?

Answer: Can move into different plans. Many individual plans in Florida. We are not interested in narrowing of networks or facilities. We want the broadest network possible. Institutions, we have a lot of people in Florida. Most hospitals take Medicare. There should be no issues, especially in a state like Florida. 

Question: Thanks Mulgrew, Part B reimbursement, what about IRMA payments?

Answer:  I think that will be fine but not totally certain. Not clear on that at this moment but we will get back to you. Tom Murphy chimes in that IRMA will remain the same. 

Question: Retirees not yet on Medicare?

Answer: They stay where they are at this moment. Let the committee drive what they should be doing. Keep and improve benefits and lower costs. 

Question: If people want to remain on GHI senior care they can do it for an extra $170 a month?

Answer: Can pay more if you like but you can keep the same doctors in the group. Why pay for something you would get without paying?

Question: Is this an HMO or a PPO?

Answer: It's not an HMO it works more like a PPO. You just go and it is covered. They offer more than what is covered because they want to have the good scores to get more money from the government. 

Question on expatriots?

Answer: We are asking about that. 

Question: Bennett Fisher asked: What is to stop doctors who do currently take traditional Medicare from not accepting this plan at their discretion?

Answer: The fact is most doctors accept Medicare because there are federal and state incentives for them. That would be a problem even if we same in our same plan. If something like that were ever to occur, if it is on a small scale, we would use all of our abilities and whatever companies we are working with to get that fixed. If it is a large scale, then it becomes a legislative issue at a state or federal level. 

(Sorry folks, I missed a while as an operator finally picked up to let me ask a question. No surprise but I wasn't put on the call.)

Question: Gym memberships and group classes?

Answer: We are working on that.

Mulgrew thanks people for taking their time. Recommend a standing healthcare committee. We're taking care of each other. The nastiness of politics especially on social media has had a bad effect. That is not us. Take pride in taking care of in-service and retirees. Hope you have a better understanding. Tell people to calm down on Facebook and other social media. We are really good people. There will be another town hall when we make a decision. 

You can listen to the entire Town Hall on Sound Cloud

The question I wanted to ask:

Medicare Advantage or part C is privately run healthcare. If 250,000 NYC retirees go from a public into a privatized program, don't we run the risk of weakening traditional Medicare significantly which will make it less likely that we will get Medicare for all in the long run which is what we should be striving for and that is the only way to really control prices?

Also, I may have attempted to sneak this in:

How are we going to be opposed to privatizing schools (charters-vouchers) when we are privatizing our own healthcare?


Anonymous said...

FYI, calendar is out.
Students report Monday, 9/13.
Election day is an asynchronous instructional day.
Everything else is as expected.

Anonymous said...

Why all the complaining, he says nothing is changing. Same positive, everything is fine attitude, as usual.

Anonymous said...

LOL. Last day for students next year is Monday June 27. We have to go in the following day for PD, 6/28/22.

Anonymous said...

What about pre-authorizations for MRI's, CAT Scans and Sonograms? Will they be required? And, will we still be able to go to specialists without a referral from our primary care physician? These are Medicare benefits that we now have that are usually ways that private health insurers save on costs. Have not seen any details on those issues as of yet.

Anonymous said...

Thank you James for trying to keep us informed on this.

Anonymous said...

Mulgrew is reading Facebook posts now? GOOD! That means he can see how hated he truly is.

Anonymous said...

Our contract states we can work up until the last 2 weekdays of June. So don't know why people are complaining about this. It was either that or kids start on Friday the 10th. Can't please everyone I guess.

waitingforsupport said...

Hah. He certainly made the change over to Medicare Advantage(MA) SOUND seemless. However if this Medicare Advantage plan is as good as traditional medicare, why change? Answer: to save money. Our stabilization fund will stay afloat. IMO? Retirees will suffer from this cost savings initiative. We've paid into traditional Medicare our entire lives now we are corraled into a plan that's "just as good as traditional Medicare." He never mentioned if the union can opt out after a year. I think it's a done deal. Oh well, Now let's see if retirees vote him out.

Anonymous said...

I don’t believe one solitary word out of Mulgrew’s lying mouth, and neither should anyone else. He’ll eventually screw the retirees and say the UFT had no choice but to accept this as part of the 2018 contract that stipulated undisclosed health cost savings. Thing is retirees can’t vote on contracts, only elections. Does anyone see something wrong with this?

Anonymous said...

James thank you for the beautiful note taking and report, I was vetted and didn’t meet the grade either. Interesting that UFT had to keep the information secret while other unions were able to share it with members.

Anonymous said...

Mulgrew is not reliable. He has lied before

For example, remember what he did when the retro-pay was not in our October 20220 pay stub on Payroll Portal. Mulgrew made a bullshit video about how he was going to be a fight with the city about the October 20220 retro=pay.

Even though there was an arbitrator present at the meeting the arbitrator did not make the decision. Mulgrew just caved in without a fight and we are still waiting 12 years later for our last retropay

Mulgrew lied. Mulgrew is lying now. He is lying about the retiree medical benefits.
NY city has Mulgrew by the balls.

Anonymous said...

Mulgrew has lost his mind , his creditability and his morals.

Mulgrew is not reliable.

waitingforsupport said...

Vetted. Yes I guess i was too. Som3 lady asked for my name school and question. Of course I wasn't granted the opportunity to ask it. I think it's a fon4 deal. Mulgrew is probably only ensuring that the health concerns of his mom(s) and wife are covered by this plan. My relative works in health-care. They said traditional medicare is premium. You can dress up all of these plans i.e. group or individual. They are all less stellar than traditional medicare. Obviously right? They are cheaper than traditional medicare.

Anonymous said...

PS Excellent questions. Certainly not the sort of information that Mulgrew would want sneaking into his radio program. Thank you for posting the questions here.

Anonymous said...

UFT SCREWED US WITH THE TDA REDUCTION TO 7% while PSC Union still gets 8.25%. Last October we lost our retro money being delayed by months.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, this is all confusing to me. Another ed blogger, in Chicago, is also writing about this (https://preaprez.wordpress.com/2021/05/03/the-privatizing-of-medicare-means-nearly-1-in-5-of-those-with-traditional-medicare-have-no-source-of-supplemental-coverage/).
Hopefully, by the time I need medicare, we will have medicare for all.