New York Town Retirees Struggle to Defend Their Medicare Benefits

New York Town Retirees Struggle to Defend Their Medicare Benefits

New York City’s 250,000 retired municipal personnel are facing the conversion of our standard Medicare protection to a privately managed Medicare Advantage plan.

It turns out that negotiations to accomplish this modify have been heading on—in secret—for 3 yrs. The bargaining agent is the Municipal Labor Committee (MLC), which includes approximately 100 town unions.

Word of the negotiations leaked out in March, and union activists right away commenced to arrange a combat to guard our positive aspects.

Classic Medicare pays 80 per cent of well being fees sufferers should purchase a supplemental coverage to go over the 20 % hole. For NYC retirees, the metropolis pays for this health supplement.

The threatened modify would replace this process with a “managed care” application that addresses both equally the 80 % and the 20 p.c: Medicare Advantage, established by Congress in 2003. A for-gain managed care corporation would command our obtain to wellness treatment.

This sort of system is identified for larger out-of-pocket expenditures, demanding pre-approval for several procedures, and generally denying treatment options to the sickest patients. We panic getting rid of access to our present doctors.


The Council of Municipal Retiree Organizations arranged a petition, which has so much obtained nearly 15,000 signatures.

The union of school and employees of the Metropolis University of New York method (Professional Team Congress) unanimously passed a resolution at its April 15 Delegate Assembly calling for a moratorium on the program.

When retired instructor activists learned what was heading on, we approached the Retired Lecturers Chapter of the United Federation of Lecturers (UFT, the biggest nearby of the AFT). The chair, Tom Murphy, reluctantly place the challenge on the agenda of the chapter’s future meeting—only to present a superficial explanation.

Our team, Retiree Advocate, a caucus of the retiree chapter, then structured a meeting to explain Medicare Benefit, prepare our actions, and explore how to coordinate with other unions. We experienced in intellect a Zoom assembly of possibly a few dozen people—but we ended up with a webinar of much more than 300!

Obviously our union leaders could no longer carry on in top secret, so on May well 5, UFT President Michael Mulgrew held a virtual “town conference.” We have been assured that the union was fighting for a plan that would be similar to our recent strategy in dimensions and construction, and that would not lessen benefits.

Given that the goal of this total program is to help you save the metropolis money, and due to the fact personal insurance firms exist in get to make dollars and they do this by decreasing benefits, we did not swallow this.


On Could 24, Retiree Advocate held a rally and push convention outdoors of City Hall attended by 150 people today together with UFT retirees and reps of DC 37. Speakers criticized Medicare Advantage and the injustice of our possess union leaders collaborating with the town to drive this on us. Why must the city’s financial savings arrive at our price, instead than from taxing actual estate or the finance business?

“There were seven, eight possibilities to save dollars [in a 2018 Memorandum of Understanding between the union and the city], and they resolved to target on the retirees,” reported Norm Scott, a UFT retiree. “[Why don’t they] hit the serious estate field with a 1 percent tax, or a inventory transfer tax? There are other approaches to raise income.”

As for the city’s health expenses, the serious way to keep them down would be a solitary-payer method. Presently there is a monthly bill in Albany for these kinds of a strategy: the New York Wellness Act (S5474, A6058). It has the guidance of a majority of the customers of the state legislature and a supermajority in the Assembly. The mayor and the metropolis council have expressed their support.

But the leaders of our union (nationwide and city) oppose it! They, together with lots of other unions, have lined up with Democratic Party centrists and Republicans in help of tries to fix the flawed recent program with its large charges, deductibles, and weak coverage.

CAUCUS Organizing

In opposing the Medicare Benefit conversion and supporting common health treatment, Retiree Advocate is preventing also for present personnel. We are operating for the sort of union that would have expended the past 3 many years arranging its associates to oppose these givebacks, alternatively of negotiating in top secret.

Numerous of our customers have been concerned in rank-and-file efforts in opposition to the UFT’s governing Unity caucus for many years. We are at the moment managing a slate of candidates in the Retired Lecturers Caucus election.

As of this producing, an impasse has been introduced in the negotiations amongst the metropolis and the MLC, and it is being forwarded to a facilitator. The metropolis however intends to apply the adjust this tumble.

Retirees in the a variety of unions continue on to mobilize against staying forced into Medicare Gain. Even if we get rid of this individual struggle, we will continue on to agitate and construct guidance for stopping additional erosion of the wellness treatment plans for the two retirees and doing work members.

Merry Tucker is a retired NYC community superior school teacher and UFT member.

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