Below is a part of my report from Wednesday's Delegate Assembly meeting where UFT President Michael Mulgrew basically concedes retirees who pay premiums for healthcare have been getting illegally ripped off.
This is from my account of Michael Mulgrew's President's Report:
In court case, the judge ruled, wrongly we believe, that any plan below the HIP rate must be given for free. We have 8 plans for retirees. 2 are free; 6 are pay-up plans. Those 6 pay-up plans according to the judge must be premium free. GHI doesn't have many providers in Nevada. Judges ruling says the city doesn't have to pay for more than one plan. The judge ruled the city can go forward with Medicare Advantage. We want basic union authority. Collective bargaining rights are the basis for all of our rights. City negotiated pay-up plans. All of us have price tag on us. 100% of cost we have to figure out how to pay for but for retirees, they will never reach the HIP-HMO rate.
From the question period:
Question: Taylor Law protects right to collective bargaining?
Mulgrew Answer: 6 pay-up plans that retirees have to pay for. We want access to premium free health plan. City has a ruling that says they have to offer one plan. They cannot charge up for it unless it is above the HIP rate. It ensures that if we get a Medicare Advantage plan, there will be no option. We have 9,000 policy holders in other plans. They would lose it. There is collective bargaining under the Taylor Law. Right to negotiate payups for retirees has been taken away from us. All we want is right to negotiate as we have negotiated for 40 years. We want to clarify our right to negotiate what we have negotiated for over 40 years. We have to get something that has been taken away from us.
Let us now look at what the current Administrative Code 12-126 says:
(1) The city will pay the entire cost of health insurance coverage for city employees, city retirees, and their dependents, not to exceed one hundred percent of the full cost of H.I.P.-H.M.O. on a category basis.
Where does it say the City can't offer multiple plans?
What is the full cost of the HIP-HMO rate? It is about $925 per month. The City is required to pay the entire cost of health insurance up to that rate under the current law.
The City has not been meeting its legal obligation for thousands of retirees. Many Medicare-eligible retirees are being ripped off by being charged premiums for many years. I gather the City has been given a blessing by the Municipal Labor Committee to illegally charge these premiums. Look at the rate chart for Medicare Eligible retirees. Five of the 12 plans listed charge monthly healthcare premiums for retirees. Mulgrew told the Delegates these are pay-up plans. They only cover 20% of medical expenses; Medicare takes care of the other 80%. They are inexpensive, much less than the HIP-HMO rate so why does anyone have to pay up for them?
If you look at the actual rates on the COBRA page, not one of the retiree plans exceeds the HIP-HMO rate. (The City can charge a 2% administrative fee for COBRA so take a few dollars off what is listed on the COBRA page for the actual monthly rate.)
- The law says the City has to pay the entire cost for healthcare up to the HIP-HMO rate; a rate that is over $900 a month.
- None of the retiree plans costs over $900 a month.
- Why is there any premium for any city retiree who enrolls in a Medicare supplemental plan?
It looks illegal to this non-lawyer.
Mulgrew's new argument appears to be that we must change the law so the City-MLC can create a new cheaper benchmark healthcare plan. At that point, the City will be able to legally charge retirees who don't take their new cheap plan a monthly premium for what the City is currently illegally charging them for.
Marianne Pizzitola, President of the New York City Organization of Public Service Retirees, is all over this. (The "he" who she refers to in this tweet is Mulgrew.)
In addition, the judge didn't say anything limiting our collective bargaining rights. They are subject to the Taylor Law where healthcare is a mandatory subject of bargaining. Nothing on healthcare can change without union agreement. Also, remember for school district employees state law says a school district cannot diminish retiree health benefits unless they do the same to active workers.
Why the desperation of Mulgrew to giveback on healthcare?