MEA Testimony on Administrative Code 12-126

MEA testimony at New York City Council, Civil Service and Labor Committee Hearing on “Health Insurance Coverage for Municipal Employees, Municipal Retirees, and Their Dependents” via Administrative Code 12-126.

(L to R) Darrell L. Sims, President MEA, Alice Wong, Executive Director MEA,
and Stu Eber, President of COMRO (President Emeritus MEA)

Good morning / afternoon, Madame Chair Carmen De La Rosa, Committee Members, and attendees.

I am Darrell Sims, R.A., President of the New York City Managerial Employees Association (MEA) and with me is Alice Wong, the Executive Director of the MEA.  We would like to thank the Committee for providing us with the opportunity to testify on behalf of the 16,000 NYC managerial and confidential employees and MEA members.

After a 39-year tenure working at the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), I retired on January 1, 2020.  Elected as MEA President, I commenced my term on January 1, 2022. Based on my knowledge and concerns expressed to me from the MEA Executive Board and members – especially our Retirees Chapter, the following is MEA’s position.

The New York City Managerial Employees Association objects to the proposed amendment to the Administrative Code, Section 12-126 enabling the City to impose Medicare Advantage as the only premium free retiree health care plan.  The current Medicare / Senior Care plan will then cost at least $191 a month per person or be eliminated.  Amending Section 12-126 of the Administrative Code will seriously undermine and compromise the health care protections for all municipal employees and retirees, and their dependents (insurees).  It will allow the City to renegotiate premium rates for everyone and place insurees into different economic classes based on financial ability to pay.  It will allow for coverage and benefits reductions, and eliminate protections and equal treatment that current insurees have at this time.

We strongly oppose the Administration’s and the Municipal Labor Committee’s planned reductions in health insurance coverage and benefits through the privatization of Medicare for retirees.  The City seeks to weaken the protections guaranteed for all municipal employees and retirees, and their dependents in the Administrative Code.  There are alternatives for managing rising health care costs rather than amending the Administrative Code.  The Administration could use its purchasing power to challenge hospitals to reduce exorbitant charges, address the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs, and audit insurance providers on a regular basis.

I will now relinquish to Ms. Wong for our closing statement.

It is advised that creative, knowledgeable and competent-thinking individuals representing all concerned parties, including municipal retirees, form a working committee to develop an appropriate and sustainable long-term solution to address the high costs of health care.   Proposing to amend Section 12-126 of the Administrative Code is an expression of a “Quick-Fix – Get Stuff Done” attitude for resolving the high cost of health care at the expense and detriment of municipal workers, municipal retirees, and their dependents.

Health care is one of the most sacred and indispensable necessities required to sustain our lives.  Therefore, the quality of health care insurance and the performance of the insurer are of the utmost importance.  Section 12-126 affects the lives of all municipal workers, municipal retirees, and their dependents.  Municipal retirees should not be “sold-off” like livestock to a for-profit private insurance entity with an inferior Medicare Advantage Plan in order for the City to relieve itself from its legal and financial obligations.  Based on our many decades of dedicated civil service to New York City and its residents, we have earned and deserve much better treatment and respect.  The high health care cost burden should not be resolved by diminishing current workers, retirees, and their dependents codified insurance coverage and benefits.

Accordingly, MEA requests of you to please do not vote in favor of amending Section 12-126 of the Administrative Code of The City of New York.

Respectfully submitted,

Darrell L. Sims                           Alice Wong
President                                  Executive Director