Judge Rules In Favor Of Retirees Regarding Illegally Charged Copayments



The retirees are accusing New York City, EmblemHealth, and Group Health Inc. of violating the law by charging copays for medical care

New York City, NY — Justice Lyle E. Frank of the New York Supreme Court granted class-action status to over 200,000 elderly and disabled retired New York City workers in a suit against New York City, EmblemHealth, and Group Health Inc. The suit alleges that these defendants charge retirees unlawful copays every time they received medical care. These copays violate retirees’ statutory, contractual, and common law rights.

The retirees, who filed the suit in November 2022, are represented by Jake Gardener of Walden Macht & Haran LLP and Steve Cohen of Pollock Cohen LLP.

In January 2023, Justice Frank prohibited the defendants from continuing to impose copays on retirees, holding that the retirees were likely to prevail in their lawsuit and that the copays were causing them irreparable harm.  That injunction was unanimously affirmed on appeal in May.

“These elderly and disabled retirees, most of whom are living on small, fixed incomes, are entitled, and desperately need, to be able to see their doctors without being charged unaffordable and unlawful copays,” said Jake Gardener, attorney at Walden Macht & Haran LLP.

“Thanks to Justice Frank’s ruling, hundreds of thousands of vulnerable senior citizens and disabled first responders will be able to effectively obtain the relief they deserve.”

“The illegal copays imposed felt like a car payment to many of us. We were being penalized for accessing needed care, which became detrimental to our health and wallet. We are grateful the Court certified this case as a class action for us to obtain proper relief,” said Marianne Pizzitola, President of the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees.

The case is Margaretann Bianculli et al. v. City of New York Office of Labor Relations et al., case number 160234-2022, in the New York Supreme Court, County of New York.

Banner Image: NYC Retirees sign. Image Credit – NYC Org of Public Service Retirees


Marianne Pizzitola NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees

On August 13th, 2021, a group of retirees from many different city agencies got together to form an organization to fight the impending changes to our healthcare. Two and half hours later, five people volunteered to form the Board and one became an advisor to the Board. In the next few weeks, we grew to five officers, four Trustees, five Advisors, started our Facebook group, filed for NYS incorporation, opened our PayPal fundraising account and were approved by the State to conduct business. Six weeks later we met our initial fundraising goal to pay the attorney's retainer and had filed our article 78 petition. Our Facebook page has over 18,000 members and we have an email list of almost 10,000 and both continue to grow. This is a major accomplishment! But we need to grow larger. We need to reach 250,000 retirees!

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