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To the editor:
I’ve done some research on the proposed changes to retiree health insurance and the debate it has sparked. This issue is overall very complicated but its simplicity lies in the undeniable fact that the cost of health care, like everything else, has risen. For municipal active employees and retirees this means that we have to accept that we will have to do our part and try to mitigate these increases in a way that ensures that individuals in both categories continue to get health coverage.
If I remember correctly, some years ago during a contract negotiation, the city and unions agreed to work towards cost-saving measures in relation to health care. The time to do that has now arrived in earnest and can no longer be pushed to a faraway future date.
It would be immensely more productive for the city and the unions to come to some sort of compromise. Otherwise, they'll be civil war between the labor factions: active and retired. Active employees are (rightly) concerned with pay increases and the stabilization of the current health care choices that include no-cost plans and retirees are (rightly) concerned with having to pay for an option that up to now has been available to them free of charge.
There will need to be compromises on both sides made so that we don’t experience Mayor Eric Adams’s “nuclear option” which I believe is bad for everyone, the city included. No one wants a smaller raise and increased health care costs or to pay $191 for previously free coverage; Aetna doesn’t have to be the end-all, be-all for Medicare retirees; there can continue to be other choices.
We (Labor) agreed to find these savings and the logical step now will be to negotiate with the city on their impact. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing for either labor or the city and there is still time for this to be a win-win for both sides.
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