Outstanding coverage of yesterday's rally and march to preserve government-run Medicare for NYC government employee retirees at AM NY.
Retired NYC municipal union employees are wrestling with a change they say could negatively affect their quality of life.
Hundreds of retired city employees converged in the shadow of National Museum of the American Indian amidst a record-breaking heatwave on June 30 to decry a mass shift to their health care plans. The Municipal Labor Committee is set to alter the Medicare plans of 250,000 individuals to a for-profit plan: Medicare Advantage.
The scores of union members were joined by family, friends, and other supporters as they brandished picket signs and banners demanding a moratorium on any change to the city’s existing Medicare plan and the ability to remain in their current Medicare Health Plan without raised costs or loss of benefits. If switched over to this for-profit plan, the primarily elderly protesters say it will significantly increase out-of-pocket costs, making those who suffer from several ailments or are severely ill pay skyrocketing prices. Additionally, those in attendance feared that the switch could reduce their network of providers.
“I’m here because I’m mad! We want our Medicare! Not privatization,” announced Julie, a DC 37 retiree who, along with the demonstrators in attendance, are fuming with the Municipal Labor Committee for attempting to transition to a privatized plan. Retirees like Julie shared that they labored all of their adult lives so that they could retire with peace of mind, something they say this transition would strip them of.
“We are going to stop the sellout of our traditional Medicare Plan to private health insurance! For a quarter of a million municipal retirees, and for hundreds of thousands of future retirees, many of whom are here today, it is a matter of life and death and for big insurance it’s just the biggest lollipop in the candy store. It will be $600 million in healthcare savings for the city, and $600,000 in healthcare cuts for us. Our union leadership must not let the city wiggle out of its responsibility to administer our traditional Medicare benefits,” said Bennett Fischer, a retired UFT member, calling Medicare Advantage a privatization scheme.
Read the entire story, please. The movement to stop privatized Medicare for NYC municipal retirees is gaining momentum. Please sign the petition if you have not yet done so and encourage friends to do the same.
I chauffeured my wife Camille to the event. Camille was one of the speakers.
UFT's Michael Shulman and Gloria Brandman in front of UFT HQ at the Tuesday rally and march.
Labor Press has a very in-depth, well-balanced piece on the rally that covers the UFT's side as well as the ralliers. Since the UFT and DC 37 are the two largest city unions and the Municipal Labor Committee has weighted voting, it is fairly accurate to call Medicare Advantage "Mulgrewcare."
Part of their discussion:
“A new supplemental plan would not be any more privatized than the current one,” the UFT said.
“That’s not really true,” Cross Union Retirees spokesperson Bennett Fischer told LaborPress the day after the rally. “The payments and the paperwork are all going through a private company.”
“I hope they’re right,” he continued, but he’s skeptical. While the MLC might have the leverage to negotiate a better deal than the usual private insurance, he said, “we haven’t seen the actual plan.”
There are three problems with Medicare Advantage plans, says Stu Eber, president of the Council of Municipal Retirees Organizations, and former president of the New York City Municipal Employees Association. First, “no Medicare Advantage that currently exists guarantees that your doctor will accept the plan.” Second, “no hospital is obligated to accept any Medicare Advantage group plan.” And third, “all Medicare Advantage group plans have gatekeepers,” which “sticks a clerk between you and your doctor.”
“If a new plan is put in place, it would provide access to all doctors and health services that take Medicare, which includes the doctors members are already using,” a UFT spokesperson told LaborPress.
“They say it will be just as good, but we know better,” says DC 37 Retirees Association President Ed Hysyk. “These for-profit companies make money by restrictions on health-care options.”