Mayor Eric Adams is moving ahead with a plan to transfer the 250,000 former city government employees and their dependents to privatized Medicare plans, as opposed to the traditional Medicare plans they currently have.
A significant portion of them are not happy, including Marrianne Pizzitola, a retired FDNY EMS member and president of the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees, which is a benefits advocacy group for former city retirees.
What You Need To Know
- The Adams administration plans to move forward with plans to transfer a quarter of a million retired city workers from a traditional Medicare plan to a privatized Medicare Advantage plan, despite pushback from City Comptroller Brad Lander, who has refused to sign off on it
- The controversial move has outraged thousands of former municipal employees who say Medicare Advantage plans have a history of offering sub-par coverage
- The Adams administration said it has negotiated a solid contract with a private insurance provider that offers even better healthcare than traditional Medicare plans
“Medicare Advantage is an inferior healthcare plan to the current original Medicare plan with a supplement,” Pizzitola said. “Many of our doctors won’t accept this plan.”
Most municipal retirees say they worry the program will require stricter prior-authorizations, which experts say can be more costly and cause negative health outcomes.
“Many of our doctors and hospitals won’t accept this plan. People who are in CCRC’s which are Continuing Care Residential Communities,” Pizzitola said. “Their communities do not accept Medicare Advantage. We have prior authorization to deal with that we don’t typically deal with in traditional Medicare.”
The city’s aim is to save $600 million per year with the Aetna-run Medicare Advantage plan — a privatized version of Medicare.
“By stealing benefits that were promised and earned to retirees is not saving money to a retired person,” said Pizzitola.
Last week, City Comptroller Brad Lander declined to sign the city’s contract with Aetna in light of a lawsuit filed on behalf of municipal retirees.
In a statement Lander’s office said: “Given that pending litigation calls into question the city’s legal authority to enter into the Medicare Advantage contract with Aetna, the Comptroller’s Office returned it to the administration without registering. We believe a more prudent path would be to wait for the litigation to resolve.”
Meanwhile, the Adams administration said it considers the contract registered — even without the comptroller’s signature.
In a statement, Adams said, “As we’ve said repeatedly, this Medicare Advantage plan improves retirees’ current plans, including offering a lower deductible, a cap on out-of-pocket expenses, and new benefits, like transportation, fitness programs, and wellness incentives. We are clearly within our authority under the charter to deem this contract registered.”
The city plans for retirees to automatically be transferred to a Medicare Advantage plan Sept. 1.
The Adams administration also said it is working with Aetna to ease the transition to the new plan and address any questions or concerns city retirees might have.
The NYC Organization of public service retirees said it still plans to fight the Adams administration on this issue. They still have a lawsuit pending that the organization filed to fight the move.
They expect the city to file a brief in response to their suite by Friday.
The organization also plans to hold a rally at City Hall later this month ahead of a meeting with council members.