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Compromise on Medicare



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.

Wanda Peakes


4 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • reenjoe

    Your memory is correct in that the City and MLC agreed to find healthcare savings as part of a contract negotiation in 2014. The contract in question was to give teachers the same 4 + 4% raises other Unions received in 2008, but, were denied by Bloomberg after the Wall Street collapse. However, those raises were paid from the Healthcare Stabilization Fund that is now going bankrupt. In short, today's crisis isn't about rising healthcare costs, it is about mismanagement/misuse of a dedicated fund for purposes it wasn't intended for - i.e. RAISES rather than insurance premiums. The MLC should never have agreed to this deal and now the only options left are bad and worse. Neither Adams nor the MLC can go "nuclear" if the City Council refuses to allow changes to Section 12-126 as they will lose in court. The Unions may have to consider reducing benefits, starting salaries or other measures for future hires; this is the way they have historically dealt with funding raises for active workers and it is what they should have done back in 2014.

    Tuesday, January 17, 2023 Report this

  • namrogm

    Ms. Peakes, what you are advocating is the surrender by city workers of their rights to the quality health care they were promised when they took the job and when they retired. We will fight against any compromise to the bitter end. I dare Mayor Adams to use the "nuclear option." That will be the end of his political career.

    Tuesday, January 17, 2023 Report this

  • wpeakes

    Greetings namrogm,

    I'm not advocating for anything but the time has come to do something more than stand pat and refuse to do anything. The "nuclear option" has already been put out there by a mayor who wasn't involved in the original agreement and has nothing to lose. I would much rather have a compromise proposal to put on the table rather than to let Mayor Adams do "whatever" and compromise doesn't mean capitulation. We (Labor) have had almost 9 years to come up with something and I'm sure greater minds than my own have some viable proposals to put forth by now and they need to be put out there for public debate...now.

    Wednesday, January 18, 2023 Report this

  • Compromises are often useful. However, in this case, it is not a melding of Advantage with Original Medicare. Retirees really need what they always had. What should be looked for is finding ways of producing savings. The retirees groups have lists of savings to be considered and could consider proposals from labor “leaders.” But please do not ask retirees to compromise on their basic health and economic needs. That would not be compromise but would be an injustice.

    Wednesday, January 18, 2023 Report this