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What if UFC wins? #2 Medicare

April 10, 2022 pm30 12:22 pm

What if UFC wins? How do we save Medicare? How do we keep our Platform commitments around healthcare?

#2 Medicare

I am the UFC candidate for High School Vice President. If we win I will be one of 12 members of the administrative committee (AdCom) and will help shape the new leadership’s agenda.

I cannot speak for our Coalition – these are decisions that need to be made. But I am relatively confident about some decisions.

Overall Policy

The United for Change platform reads:

No Corporate Interests in Education and Healthcare: We will fight to remove private greed from our
profession, our livelihood, and our schools.
● Reverse privatization of Medicare for NYC municipal retirees. No in-service healthcare givebacks.
Support single payer public healthcare.

United for Change Coalition Platform

Medicare Advantage Plus

At this moment, the privatization of Medicare (Mulgrewcare) is stalled. There was a successful retiree campaign. And while Mulgrew could try to bring it back, if he is defeated, UFC will not.

In-service Givebacks

There have been in-service giveback in healthcare in the last two contracts. Bigger copays. Forcing new teachers into HIP. Probably more stuff. Reversing those? I don’t know. Could be tough. But if UFC wins we have committed to not bargaining for further cuts. (Notice that language – UFC will not bargain for further cuts. Unity HAS bargained for healthcare cuts. I’ll get to that in a bit).

Single Payer

Support for single payer is the UFT’s official position already. But when the New York Health Act came up, Unity said no no no, we don’t support single payer in New York State, only federal single payer. And then when it looked like the NY Health Act had a chance, Unity joined with insurance companies to actively campaign against healthcare for all – Mulgrew was the most prominent labor leader to support Aetna over New Yorkers.

It will be easy to switch our position back, since it is our official position already. And then there is real work. The current version of the bill does not include retirees who live out of state – we will need to work with bill’s sponsors to correct that before it can pass. (Here I am, saying we should take a seat at the table. That’s usually Unity’s position – and they give up all kinds of stuff to get there. But with the NYHA, Unity has been saying no to our allies. UFC will talk with our allies.)

A little history

In 1995 a 0-0 contract was defeated by the membership. Leadership could have learned “listen more closely to members before proposing a contract.” As chapter leaders, we know this. We should never offer up an SBO except when we are certain the SBO will pass resoundingly.

Instead leadership drew the wrong lesson. They vowed to make the money in each contract look bigger than it actually was.

Swapping time for money under Bloomberg made the percent look higher. It was a trick, an illusion. And it was suggested and supported by Unity.

Offering $1000 or $500 bonuses at the start of a contract gives the illusion of more money, but the one time payments, which now arise every other contract, would easily be quickly exceeded by even the smallest percentage raise.

But the worst is from the last two contracts. To make the percentage increases look bigger, provisions for “health care cost savings” were included in those contracts. The City would put an extra percent or two in active members pockets, and the union would work out a way to guide extra dollars into the stabilization fund to even the score.

But the calculation went sour. The union’s obligation outweighed the City’s. Finding some waste at a hospital or two was not enough. They reworked our insurance to increase copays, to create tiers of hospitals. They forced new members in HIP for their first year. Just a year ago Mulgrew thought changing that to five years was worth looking at.

And it’s still not enough. Fast forward to today, and Unity is looking for extra sources of money. What do they see? A way to make money by playing with retirees’ health care.

We can argue back and forth about Medicare Advantage vs Medicare for today’s retirees. It’s probably an individual decision. (We should not argue about which program would be part of a better society, which we would want for coming generations.)

Is there a problem today?

What would UFC do? We would need to look at the actual finances of the Stabilization Fund.

How bad is the situation? I don’t know. And I don’t take Mulgrew’s word for it. We will look. We will let our members see. We will bring in experts to look.

And together, openly, we will decide if there are immediate steps that must be taken.

But we will not know until the real information is out in the open. And the only way to get there is to change our leadership.

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