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To the editor:
On August 29, Harry Nespoli, chair of the Municipal Labor Committee, sent a letter to members announcing that the Office of Labor Relations will conduct a Dependent Eligibility Verification Audit (DEVA) to determine if health benefits have been erroneously paid to ineligible persons.
The audit is neither comprehensive or independent: OLR is essentially investigating itself. Nespoli notes that “the MLC Technical Committee and DEVA Subcommittee have worked with the City to ensure that the audit is conducted in a manner consistent with prior audits…” Marianne Pizzitola, the president of the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees, raised several salient issues. What is the process? Who serves on the MLC committees? And I would add, what are their affiliations? It’s a secret. A freedom of information request that I submitted in November for such transparency has been met with several delays, with OLR cynically claiming a need for “additional time to review records.”
The audit will have a restrictive random sample of 2,000 persons. Why not expand it if there is a
genuine need to find health-cost savings?
Marianne has pointed out that this is minuscule, as there are approximately 1.2 million health-plan participants. It is negligent and fiscally irresponsible for OLR not to fulfill its fiduciary duty to know who improperly receives benefits.
She also notes that this is the first audit SINCE 2014, which found $108 million in savings.
Are retirees included? Who will pay for the audit? Union dues should not be expended. It is the City’s responsibility.
The Comptroller’s Audit Bureau should conduct its own comprehensive audit of OLR. Don’t force retirees into a flawed privatized Medicare plan. Savings can be found elsewhere if there is the will. And the MLC certainly shouldn’t wag the fiscal watchdog.
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