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Preserve traditional Medicare

Posted

To the editor:

The Adams administration is requesting that the City Council make changes to the municipal code that, if enacted, would clear a path for implementation of a Medicare Advantage Program for retirees.

In 2014, $1 billion was misappropriated from the Health Insurance Stabilization Fund to grant some select city employees' raises. City officials failed in their fiduciary responsibilities by misusing funds dedicated to health-care stabilization which was clearly earmarked in the Stabilization Fund to protect these very benefits which are under attack. 

The city buys insurance from EmblemHealth and other insurers that incur "risk charges.” These "risk charges" would be avoided if the city self-insured as most other major public and private employers do. Eliminate "premium taxes" and other expenses that only insured products incur, and self-insurance would knock about $1.6 billion off the City's annual health insurance costs. Former Mayor Bloomberg gained concessions from health insurers by threatening to change insurers. Why not now?

And why shouldn't the city follow San Francisco's example concerning our well-heeled nonprofit hospitals and negotiate reduced reimbursement rates in return for the generous property, commercial and income tax waivers it grants them. Furthermore, consolidating the city’s more than 70 welfare funds could save millions in administrative costs and secure healthcare funds for active and retired members.

Original Medicare supplemented by GHI Senior Care must be preserved. The thought of considering a Medicare Advantage Plan is a disadvantage due to the inherent "prior authorizations" and "denials" that do occur. Medicare Advantage Plans were recently criticized by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department for denying some needed care. Protect original Medicare by self-insuring and consolidating the welfare funds. And why not?! 

Joseph Campbell

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