Battle For Retiree Healthcare Is Far From Over. Municipal Labor Committee, To Benefit Of City, Not Retirees, Votes To Force All Retired NYC Workers Into Medicare Advantage, Limiting Doctors They Can See, Reducing Insurance Coverage

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We have received an update from Marianne Pizzitola of the NYC Organization Of Retired Municipal Workers.  The Municipal Labor Committee had been contemplating a vote of its own to settle the health insurance debate without consulting with the union members or retired union members (unions, if you remember from the interview with Marianne, do not claim to represent retired workers, but they will sign new contracts for them that may violate the terms of their previous contracts).

 

According to Influence Watch, “The Municipal Labor Committee is the umbrella organization that represents unions in New York City. The Municipal Labor Committee is chaired by Harry Nespoli, the President of New York Teamsters Local 381.”  The Municipal Labor Committee  has no Wikipedia entry and provides very limited information about itself, including the following program quote on Guidestar: “WORKED TOWARDS BETTERING HEALTH & RETIREMENT COVERAGE AND WORKING CONDITIONS OF NEW YORK CITY MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES.”

 

This is an organization which makes decisions on behalf of the 98 New York worker unions and their members without having to reach union members or even individual unions themselves for a vote.   The purposes of the MLC  in its formation were multiple.  One of the stated goals was to stop strikes that had been occurring routinely across the City in the 1960s and 1970s in different professions, such as teachers, police officers, welfare department employees, sanitation workers, etc.


These strikes had been bringing the City to a standstill over and over, so something needed to be done to find other ways to get workers the conditions and wages that they deserved.  The MLC was formed in response to the NYC Collective Bargaining Law.

It was ostensibly to provide a way for the City of New York to negotiate with only one group on behalf of the many unions that represent different professions across the City, while at the same time reducing worker’s rights to strike and reducing other collective bargaining powers.

However, this organization has, in many cases, facilitated undermining the benefits their union members are entitled to and, until this vote, were receiving. This new way of dealing with workers is also what led to municipal workers having raises deferred for, quite literally years and possibly decades.  TheCity states, in regards to the latest City contracts and wage raises, “Most city employees are now working under expired labor contracts that lapsed as far back as 2020 ”

Retired union members were previously being given a choice to not join the privatized health insurance known as Medicare Advantage, which offers fewer benefits, has fewer doctors in network, and rejects the vast majority of procedures, surgeries, and treatments, regardless of medical necessity.

The new Medicare Advantage plan is run by Aetna, one of the largest insurance providers in the United States.  Their reputation as an insurance company is as one that routinely denies claims, even those that are supposed to be paid.  This means that people have to spend countless hours on the phone with the insurer to get their claims paid.

 

According to insurancedenial.com:

“Does Aetna deny a lot of claims?

Nonetheless, all too often Aetna delays and denies claims by citing seemingly mundane reasons, leaving policyholders with huge medical debts that they have to pay for out-of-pocket. Even if they accept a claim, health insurers such as Aetna are notorious for offering lowball settlements on health insurance claims.”

This means that retirees and City workers are going to have higher medical costs, because the portion an insurance company will not pay then becomes the responsibility of the patient, as the medical form you sign when getting a service clearly states.

If there are fewer doctors in their network, this may well be because the doctors don’t want to not get paid for months, or to be paid less for their services.  In these cases, you can still go to your regular doctor, who is out of network, but the patient must then pay up-front and be reimbursed later.

Once the insurance company lowballs the insurance claim, and the patient accepts the payment after waiting for likely months, calling back again and again, and finally getting an offer, in the end it becomes a loss.  This will raise healthcare costs for many current retirees.

Their recent decision technically affects all City workers, because everyone will eventually retire.  As Marianne Pizzitola pointed out in her interview with the Staten Islander News Organization, every current worker will one day be retired.  Since a great many individuals choose to work for the City specifically for the benefits (which were competitive with the private sector), it is in the best interest of active members, as well as retired union members, to take on this fight.  It will affect them and their beneficiaries in a matter of decades.

Here is what Marianne Pizzitola had to say about the latest development:


NEW YORK CITY ORGANIZATION OF PUBLIC SERVICE RETIREES RESPONDS TO THE MUNICIPAL LABOR COMMITTEE VOTE TO STRIP RETIREES OF TRADITIONAL MEDICARE

(New York, New York) —  Marianna Pizzitola, President of The New York City Organization of Public Service Retirees, released the following statement: “The NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees once again denounces the Municipal Labor Committee’s rushed weighted vote stripping retirees of Traditional Medicare and auto enrolling them onto Medicare Advantage by Aetna.

“They did this without ever seeing the contract and knowing that seniors may not be able to get into an outside Medigap plan to remain on Traditional Medicare, or not be covered in their Continued Care Residence Communities. They negotiated away the healthcare rights of their elderly and disabled retirees. This is dangerous and unprecedented.

“This historic decision lies squarely on the backs of labor leaders as retired union workers have been trying to educate their former unions as to the differences between Traditional Medicare with a supplement and privatized managed Medicare Advantage for the last two years.  We have repeatedly been met with apathy and indifference, while many of them blamed us for their bad decisions.

“Labor should never support privatizing public healthcare or stripping retirees of vested earned benefits. This is a sad day in labor history.  Our Organization will pursue our legal options.”

Banner Image: Justice for Spotify workers. Image Credit –  Patrick Perkins


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This byline indicates that this article was penned by a member/members of the Staten Islander News Organization office team. Our staff writers are the backbone of our newspaper, performing all sorts of important tasks like conducting interviews, investigating leads, besides writing the news stories you see.

5 Comments

  • […] staffers. I won’t get into the finer details; for more information see this article and this other article, previously published on the Staten Islander. (Click to begin researching online with Google to […]

  • Avatar Alfred Tasca says:

    It’s amazingly despicable that that our union leaders would sell us retirees out to the city by negotiating to put us in a totally useless Medicare Advantage Plan that is not widely accepted by most money hungry doctors that don’t care about their patients. and the union leaders in the meantime are lining their pockets with the money that the city saves and the dues paid for by the current active employees.

    • CRANK CRANK says:

      They don’t care. They just don’t care.

      The union leaders actually can face themselves at night? How?

      I guess the bed is fluffy with all that cash in the mattress. 😐

      It’s not even funny, though. The entire medical system is a joke. The truth is, we live longer staying away from the doctors. But ofc, you need good medical care, just in case you get really sick.

      But also, look it up.. a lot of this is nonsense. Stents, heart attacks that aren’t, thyroid cancer surgery…there are a lot of medical scams.

      Oh, now the latest. They have a whole new group of patients to exploit. With “surgeries” that really only have the potential to harm. You know what I’m talking about.

      But that really applies to most of the plastic “surgery” Bs that people get. yeah, it makes your skin look like plastic. Very true.

      • The Real King Of Staten Island The Real King Of Staten Island says:

        Thyroid medicine is the top selling drug.

        A few decades ago, foolish health-minded people traded in their iodized salt for sea salt.

        OK, fast-fwd a few decades, and the sea salt was contaminated with microplastics from the horribly polluted oceans, and the sea salt lacks iodine.

        The misconception is, that because sea vegetables, like nori and wakame, you know, seaweed, has TONS of iodine, the ocean, and thus sea salt, does as well.

        Dulse, it’s red there’s so much iodine. But, these living things only concentrate the little iodine that is in the sea.

        Without iodine, people started to get thyroid disease again. When they started iodizing salt back in the early 20c, that ended.

        True facts. Look it all up.

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