TESTIMONY BEFORE CITY COUNCIL COMMITTEE ON CIVIL SERVICE AND LABOR
OCTOBER 28, 2021
Good Morning. My name is Adrienne Leaf. I am the Director of the Retirees Chapter of the NYC Managerial Employees Association. And I am submitting this testimony on behalf of myself and the 600 retired managers who are members of our organization. I am actually submitting my testimony online as I recently had surgery to my foot and ankle and was in a rehabilitation center for almost 2 months in a wheelchair and unable to walk. I am now recovering at home and slowly building up my ability to walk again.
As we age, health care becomes a more significant aspect of our lives. As city managers, we are not included in labor negotiations between the city and the municipal labor unions as we are not a union but a member association. Even though whatever agreements are reached usually are replicated for city managerial staff.
I am sure you have heard from other witnesses about the impact this change to a Medicare Advantage Plan and withdrawal of city support for Medicare Part B coverage will have on the 200,000+ retirees and their spouses. I would like to share with you the concerns of MEA members which have been shared with me over the past few months, as we struggled to obtain information on what this new program would look like and its impact on our members and all other city retirees.
Significant issues for our members include:
- The cost of opting out, especially for married retirees who must pay $191/month times two or $382/month for coverage that was virtually free for years. For many members the choice of opting out is really no choice at all – they simply can’t afford it so in effect they are being forced into a Medicare Advantage Plan.
- The availability of doctors and hospitals with the new plan, not just for our members who live in the metropolitan area, but the 25% who have retired to other states in the US. Will their doctors and hospital be participating? Many have asked their doctors and some number were totally unaware of the new Plan and what new requirements would be placed on them and their office staff.
- The requirement for pre-approval by the Plan for numerous tests and procedures which is not currently required by Senior Care. Will this cause delays in delivery of needed health care? Will there be rejection of tests or procedures which are costly? How long will an appeal of the rejection take and who will be deciding whether the test or procedure is medically necessary when our doctors clearly think it is?
- How will patients who are currently being treated for acute medical conditions such as cancer have continuity of care if their current doctor and/or hospital decide not to participate in the plan?
- How will the plan add all the new patients and their doctors into their existing data systems to ensure a smooth transition from members’ existing health insurance to the new program?
The City and Alliance have verbally assured retirees none of these issues will be a problem. All will be handled. It is hard to believe that is true when retirees, following instructions from OLR and Alliance, call the Alliance hotline and are given conflicting information from what they have been told verbally. Or when they are put on hold for 30 minutes in order to reach someone to ask a question. It does not bode well for an orderly transition to a service that can be life saving for retirees.
Thank you for allowing me to provide this testimony on behalf of the members of the NYC Managerial Employees Association.