Bob Lederer 238.60sc

Bob Lederer

Bob Lederer's activity stream


  • Judge rules Adams admin cannot financially penalize NYC retirees who reject controversial Medicare plan

    https://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/new-york-elections-government/ny-judge-rules-nyc-mayor-adams-cant-penalize-city-workers-medicare-plan-20220303-hyvzsazfqnd7fkijenskrurf5a-story.html 

    NEW YORK DAILY NEWS 
    MAR 03, 2022 AT 1:03 PM

    A Manhattan judge ruled Thursday that Mayor Adams’ administration cannot slap a financial penalty on retired municipal workers who opt out of the city’s controversial new Medicare plan, marking a significant win for a group of retirees who fought the health insurance switch in court for months.

    The effort by the administration to levy a $191 monthly fee on retirees who want to keep their current coverage instead of enrolling in the new Medicare Advantage Plan runs counter to longstanding local administrative law, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lyle Frank wrote in a decision.

    The law in question, Frank continued, requires the city to “pay the entire cost of health insurance coverage for city employees, city retirees and their dependents.” Any attempt to impose a premium or other cost for coverage is thereby illegal, he added.

    “This Court holds that this is the only reasonable way of interpreting this section,” the judge wrote.

     

    Retired New York City municipal workers are pictured on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall to call on New York City Mayor-elect Adams to preserve their Medicare coverage last December.
    Retired New York City municipal workers are pictured on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall to call on New York City Mayor-elect Adams to preserve their Medicare coverage last December. (Luiz C. Ribeiro/for New York Daily News)

     

    Frank’s decision caps a court battle between the city and a group of retired city workers that began last year under former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration.

    In announcing the plan last fall, de Blasio’s administration presented Medicare Advantage as a boon to the city and save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars every year because it is subsidized by the federal government at a higher rate. At the same time, the administration maintained the new plan would provide the city’s roughly 250,000 Medicare-aged retirees with health coverage that’s comparable to what they’re currently receiving.

    But the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees sued over the move, charging that the new plan would result in inferior coverage, including by imposing complex new preauthorization procedures for specific medical procedures.

    After vowing on the campaign trail to make sure the new Medicare plan wouldn’t be a “bait and switch” for retired workers, Adams announced last month that he would move ahead with implementing it as envisioned by de Blasio, angering retirees who said he was going back on his promise by keeping the $191 penalty intact.

    Retired New York City municipal workers are pictured marching near Brooklyn Borough Hall to call on Mayor-elect Adams to preserve their Medicare coverage last December.
    Retired New York City municipal workers are pictured marching near Brooklyn Borough Hall to call on Mayor-elect Adams to preserve their Medicare coverage last December. (Luiz C. Ribeiro/for New York Daily News)

     

    A spokesman for Adams did not immediately return a request for comment after Frank’s ruling.

    Steve Cohen, a lawyer for the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees, said the judge’s order validates the concerns of his clients and amounts to an “incredible victory” for them.

    “The city got greedy, and held a sword over the head of retirees and said, ‘If you don’t accept your new plan, we’re not going to pay for your health care,’” Cohen said. “The judge saw right through that and said, ‘No way, you can’t do that.’”

    According to data reviewed by the Daily News, more than 45,000 retired city workers had opted out of Medicare Advantage Plan as of mid-February despite the now-rescinded financial penalty they would face.

    The Adams administration can still offer the Advantage plan to retirees on a voluntary basis, starting April 1, under Frank’s ruling. It was not immediately clear Thursday afternoon how the administration will proceed.

    This story will be updated


  • published Stop Medicare privatization in NYC Medicare Advantage 2022-03-10 10:48:13 -0500

    Stop Medicare privatization

    COURT VICTORY AGAINST NYC PRIVATIZATION OF MEDICARE

    What Municipal Retirees Can Do Now

    by Julie Schwartzberg of Cross-union Retirees Organizing Committee and Board member of Physicians for a National Health Program - NY Metro (  www.pnhpnymetro.org

    On March 3, 250,000 New York City retirees had a big "win" in their lawsuit against the city.  Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lyle Frank ruled that the City could not require retirees to pay a $191 penalty if they decided to keep their traditional Medicare, and opt out of the diluted Medicare "Advantage" Plan that they were being forced into.

    The lawsuit was filed in August 2021 by the New York City Organization of Public Service Retirees, arguing that the City plan was inferior, subjecting retirees to denials and delays, and additional fees.  A news story summarizing the ruling is here.

    So for now, retirees can keep their traditional Medicare and not pay a penalty,  However, the City is appealing the Court decision. and WE ARE URGING ALL CITY RETIREES TO OPT OUT anyway. The City is claiming that opting out is not necessary because the Medicare Advantage plan will not start on April 1 as scheduled. However, we can’t be sure what will happen in the future.  In addition, the more people opting out, the more our message is loud and clear: WE DO NOT WANT AN INFERIOR, PRIVATIZED HEALTHCARE PLAN.

    If you are a New York City Retiree, please click on the link https://nycretirees.org/opt-out and follow the opt out instructions.

    It takes 5 minutes to opt out online – less if you type fast. It’s a simple form. You will need your Medicare and Social Security numbers, so have those handy. You have to fill out a separate form for yourself and for each of your Medicare-eligible dependents. Here’s the link: https://nyc-ma-plus.empireblue.com/optout. You can no longer opt out by telephone. If you want to mail in your opt-out form, go to https://nycretirees.org/opt-out for instructions.

    If you know a City Retiree, please send this information to them, and spread the word.

    For more questions, write the Cross-union Retirees Organizing Committee: [email protected]

    For additional updated information: nycretirees.org 

     

    —----------------------

    We Won! Sort of . . . 

    An Update from CROC (Cross-union Retirees Organizing Committee)

    The Judge’s Decision

    On March 3, 2022, Judge Lyle Frank issued his decision, essentially ruling in our favor. You can view the entire case filings here. Relevant to our immediate situation is file 216, pp. 2–4, which reads in part:

    However, based on this Court’s reading of New York City Administrative Code Section 12-126, so long as the respondent is giving retirees the option of staying in their current program, they may not do so by charging them the $191 the respondent intends to charge. … Based on the foregoing, it is therefore ORDERED that the preliminary injunction previously put into place by this Court is lifted, except that:

    1. Enrollment in the Medicare Advantage Plan may not occur until at least April 1, 2022, and that retirees shall have the option of opting out of the Medicare Advantage Plan for not less than three months following the effective date of the Medicare Advantage Plan;
    2. The respondent is permanently enjoined from passing along any costs of the New York City retirees’ current plan to the retiree or to any of their dependents, except where such plan rises above the H.I.P.-H.M.O. threshold, as provided by New York City Administrative Code Section 12-126; and
    3. The respondent shall ensure that all retirees and dependents of such retirees pay the deductible for only one plan for the calendar year 2022.

     

    Opt Out Now!

    By the time the decision came down, 50,000 retirees had already opted out, and the numbers have only gone up since then. The NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees (OPSR), the group that has led this legal fight, is urging everyone who is against the Medicare Advantage Plan (MAP) to opt out now. Why? Opting out guarantees that you won’t get caught in the net if the MAP suddenly returns zombie-like after April 1. More importantly, it reinforces the message to the City and the Municipal Labor Committee (MLC) that the MAP is deeply, deeply unpopular.

    It takes 5 minutes to opt out online – less if you type fast. It’s a simple form. You will need your Medicare and Social Security numbers, so have those handy. You have to fill out a separate form for yourself and for each of your Medicare-eligible dependents. Here’s the link: https://nyc-ma-plus.empireblue.com/optout. You can no longer opt out by telephone. If you want to mail in your opt-out form, go to https://nycretirees.org/opt-out for instructions.


    What Comes Next?

    Now we’re in limbo. Even though the judge has ruled in our favor, the City filed an appeal the very next day. An appeal could take months … or weeks. The judge’s decision could be upheld … or overturned. The City could try to modify the Administrative Code so that the language that led to the judge’s decision no longer apply. We don’t know. But what we have now is a breather—which means we have to keep on organizing. 

     

    Spread the word!

    Tell all your fellow retirees about this fight, post it on your Facebook page, call up your former coworkers and let them know what’s going on. Link them up to CROC so we can keep them updated.

     

    Reach out to the “actives”! The City and some of the union bosses may try to drive a wedge between retirees and those who are still on the job – the “actives.” We mustn’t let this happen. This isn’t about wages versus health care – this is one fight. It’s about our rights as workers, both right now on the job and in our justly earned retirement. In the coming weeks, CROC will organize webinars to educate the actives so they can fight back within their own unions to keep the future benefits they deserve. If you’re in touch with people still on the job in your union, put them in touch with CROC so we can all join forces.

     

    That’s all for now, folks. We’ll be in touch when we have more news. 

     


  • Healthcare Worker Storytelling Training

    Healthcare workers' stories are a powerful advocacy tool and an asset to all of our campaigns, particularly for passing the New York Health Act in 2022. To this end, we are organizing two storytelling trainings for healthcare workers (HCW) to develop storytelling as an advocacy skill. Participants will use personal narratives to illustrate how the current health insurance system causes harm through denials, delays, time wasted on paperwork and other burdens on HCW and patients, and will come away with a short video of their story.

    We are seeking representation from a variety of backgrounds, medical titles and specialties: physicians, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, social workers, occupational therapists, dentists, mental health professionals, and more are all encouraged to apply for this competitive training opportunity.  

    The training will take place over the course of two sessions: 

    (1) a 2-hour virtual small group session on March 16 or March 17 with a facilitator from The Story Workers who will help participants craft powerful, concise stories for advocacy, and 

    (2) a 45-minute session on March 19 to record the story. 

    Time options are as shown below.  Participation in both the training and filming session is highly encouraged.  Please apply today! 

    • Cohort A: Workshop session: March 16th 7:15-9:15 PM EST | Filming session: March 19th 11:00-11:45 AM EST
    • Cohort B: Workshop session: March 17th 7:15-9:15 PM EST | Filming session: March 19th 4:00-4:45 PM EST

    Following the session, PNHP-NY Metro will share and attempt to place these stories in the media to promote a single-payer healthcare system. Participants will have future opportunities to tell their story at rallies and hearings for the New York Health Act, and will be well-suited to public speaking opportunities for other advocacy campaigns.  

    Please feel free to share the application with your networks. HCW from underrepresented backgrounds are encouraged to apply.




  • Opposing Creation of a Two-Class Healthcare System for the City’s Retirees

    Opposing Creation of a Two-Class Healthcare System for the City’s Retirees

    Statement by PNHP-New York Metro - June 22, 2021

    Overview: New York City’s plan to switch the health insurance plan of retired government workers from traditional public Medicare to a private Medicare Advantage plan will create a two-class health system for retirees. Higher-income retirees, who are predominantly white, will be able to stay in a comprehensive public Medicare program by purchasing supplemental coverage. Lower-income retirees, predominantly people of color, will be placed in a private Medicare Advantage plan with limited choice of physicians and hospitals, requirements for prior insurance company authorization of treatments, and higher out-of-pocket expenses. Total spending on retiree health services in the Medicare Advantage plan will be as much as 24% below what is now spent on their care.

    The City’s proposal will increase the vast disparities in health and health care access across race and ethnicity revealed during the past year in the COVID-19 pandemic. Eight years ago, then-candidate de Blasio promised to end the ‘Tale of Two Cities.’ Now, as he leaves office, he is creating a two-class system of health care for the City’s workforce. He should withdraw his plan. The Mayor and City Council should again express their strong support for the New York Health Act. This is the only way to prevent the rising costs that lead to this erosion of benefits.

    After employees of the City of New York retire, they receive health benefits from the City that have been negotiated with City employee unions. Most City retirees join the public Medicare program, with the City paying for supplemental Medigap coverage which covers most out-of-pocket costs.

    The City government is now seeking, through negotiations with the City employee unions, to end that combined-benefits program and require all retirees, if they want comprehensive coverage, to join a private Medicare Advantage program. Medicare Advantage plans are private insurance plans funded by the federal Medicare program that cover the same services as traditional public Medicare, plus some additional ones like gym memberships and some dental and hearing services (which are covered by most of these union’s welfare funds), but which also impose additional rules, costs, and restrictions—including limited networks of hospitals and doctors. They charge copays for most services, especially for expensive tests and procedures, and require prior authorization for costly treatments, leading to frequent denials of coverage.

    The administrative overhead costs of these private insurance plans average about 14%, which subtracts from the money that Medicare makes available to pay for health care). Further, the City is planning to reduce its spending on retiree health care by as much as $600 million. As a result, spending on health care in the Medicare Advantage plan will be reduced by as much as 24%, or $3,400 per enrollee, below current spending.

    Many retirees, learning of this proposal, have declared that they want to stay in the traditional Medicare program, keeping the doctors and other services they now rely on. Since Medicare is a federal program, they can do so, but under the new plan they will have to buy their own supplemental Medigap program if they want the same coverage they now enjoy. Those who choose to stay in Medicare will have to spend from $2,500-$6,000 per year for this supplemental coverage.

    Some retirees will be able to afford this; many will not. The City’s workforce, and its retirees, are very much skewed by race and ethnicity. The City’s salary data submitted to the federal government shows that 70% of non-Hispanic white employees make $70,000 per year or more, while only 44% of employees who identify as Hispanic make that much, and just 35% of Black employees are in that upper-income bracket.

    These results, shown in the following figure, demonstrate that whites are twice as likely to be in the highest income bracket as Blacks, and 1.6 times as likely as Hispanics. (Of the total full-time workforce, 36% is white, 33% is Black, and 21% is Hispanic.) Racial and ethnic disparities in income among retirees are likely to be even greater, since they worked for the City before many of the current measures aimed at increasing workforce diversity were put in place.

    A chart titled \

    Currently, most City retirees are in the Medicare plan, and all bear the same cost. Under the City’s proposal, there will be a substantial difference between the two plans available to retirees. It will be expensive to stay in Medicare, with its greater choice of physicians, hospitals, and treatments and better access to services. White retirees will be far more likely to afford it. Black and Brown retirees will be more likely to enroll in the Medicare Advantage plan, with its lower (possibly even zero) cost, even though there will be limited choice of services and smaller expenditures per enrollee.

    If the City’s plan is adopted, it will lead to a two-class retiree health care system. Currently, the City’s retiree benefits are race- and ethnicity-neutral. Nearly everyone is in the same plan. The new plan will not be equitable. The NY Metro Chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program strongly objects to the City imposing on its retirees a program that will further increase the vast disparities in health and health care access revealed during the past year in the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The City should withdraw its plan. It should again express its strong support for the New York Health Act, which will make access to quality healthcare available to all the residents of this State, while controlling the cost increases that are driving this backwards-looking, discriminatory proposal.

     


  • Don’t Take Away Our Public Medicare, Say NYC Retirees

    See also full-length PNHP statement here and PNHP's financial analysis "City’s Plan Will Reduce Retiree Health Care by 24%" here.


  • City’s Plan Will Reduce Retiree Health Care by 24%

    See also full-length PNHP statement about NYC's Medicare Advantage plan here and a PNPH press release including statements from physicians here.


  • published NYC Medicare Advantage in Take Action 2021-05-09 15:30:00 -0400


    What is happening with Medicare Advantage in NYC?

     

    New York City is attempting to limit its spending on health benefits by shifting its 245,000 retirees and their dependents from traditional public Medicare to a private Medicare Advantage plan. The NY Metro Chapter of PNHP supports them in their fight to reverse this plan. If carried out, the City’s plan will limit retirees’ choice of physicians and hospitals, impose additional costs on them, limit their access to need care, and vastly increase the hassles involved in finding and receiving care. 

    The City’s plan is only a temporary palliative. Only progress toward a universal, publicly-funded plan like the New York Health Act, and a Medicare for All program nationally, can truly contain costs and assure everyone the care they need. 

    Following are links to a set of statements and research notes issued by our Chapter in the course of this fight. We urge you to use them in lending your voice to those who oppose this misguided step backwards.

    Resources:

    • PNHP statement in opposition to the City's changes here.
    • PNHP financial analysis "City’s Plan Will Reduce Retiree Health Care by 24%" here.
    • PNHP press release including statements from physicians here.
    • PNHP research note on 2-class system presented by proposed plan here.
    • PNHP research note on gender disparities in proposed plan here.

    How to get involved:

    • Union organizing fill out this form to be placed into a union working group.
    • Story sharing let us know your story about why you are against the shift to Medicare Advantage here.
    • Call the Mayor and City Council you can use our tool here to be automatically connected.
    • Petition to the mayor sign here.
    • PSC-CUNY action steps available here.
    • For questions about how this shift would impact you individually, please reach out here: [email protected]

  • Virtual Gala 2020: Musicians

    Gala Musicians

    Many thanks to all of the musicians & our DJ who contributed to making our evening so special!

    To book Health of Nations, please contact JP Schlegelmilch, [email protected] 

    For more music from the band, please click their names to visit their individual websites!

    JP Schlegelmilch (on Accordion/Vocals)

    Mare Berger (on Guitar/Vocals) 

    Kenny Warren (on Trumpet/Vocals) 

    Dan Loomis (on Bass/Vocals)

    Martin Urbach (Drums/Vocals)

    And big shout out to Zubin Schlegelmilch on Tambourine!

     


  • published Honorees' Writings in Virtual Gala 2020: Honorees 2020-12-22 14:52:46 -0500

    Honorees' Writings

    Dr. Donald Moore

    Rachel Madley

    Amy Goodman

     


  • signed up on Sign Up 2017-12-20 23:40:51 -0500

    Sign Up

    Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) is a nonprofit organization of 22,000 physicians, medical students, and health professionals who support single-payer national health insurance. The PNHP-NY Metro Chapter is one of over 50 chapters across the country. All are welcome to join us in our advocacy for a just and equitable healthcare system that will save lives and money. 

    Sign up