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We heard you loud and clear

March 3, 2023 am31 1:01 am

Mulgrew wrote to retirees today about the Aetna Medicare Advantage Plan. Or Mulgrew and Tom Murphy did. Or someone did, and put Murphy and Mulgrew’s names on top.

Maybe I’ll write something big about the note tomorrow or the next day. But tonight? A few thoughts.

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They wrote “We heard you loud and clear” – and went on to explain that “Aetna agreed to significantly reduce the number of services requiring prior authorizations with this new plan.” In fact, it looks like Aetna would, if they become your provider under this plan, require fewer preauthorizations than the “Alliance” would have.

They heard the complaints about prior authorizations, and reduced them.

Good, right?

End of story? Nope. Let’s try again.

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They wrote “We heard you loud and clear” – and went on to explain that “Aetna agreed to significantly reduce the number of services requiring prior authorizations with this new plan.” In fact, it looks like Aetna would, if they become your provider under this plan, require fewer preauthorizations than the “Alliance” would have.

Loud and clear. So that’s better, right?

Loud and clear? Who cut the original with Emblem with all those prior authorizations? Mulgrew and Murphy and the MLC.

So when we sent them, loud and clear, the message that we did not want more preauthorizations – it was because they had not heard us. In fact, they spent almost two years arguing that prior authorizations were not such a big deal. They spent two years arguing that they knew – better than us – what we need for our healthcare. They were wrong. We were sure to deliver that message, loud and clear.

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This is the “nuclear option” – Mulgrew and the City and Municipal Labor Committee (MLC) want so badly to force retirees onto privatized Medicare Advantage that they are proposing taking away all other health care options, except HIP VIP.

The plan most retirees have, the GHI Senior Care medigap, under the Aetna/Unity plan, it would be gone. Mulgrew is planning to end it. The email doesn’t mention this. You can find it between the lines – but Mulgrew was hoping you didn’t.

Do you remember back in 2021 when we found out that the City and UFT leadership had been negotiating this, without telling us? Do you remember how angry people were, about the plan, sure, but also about not being told that the talks were going on. Deception by omission. It’s a form of lying. And members were enraged. Boy, did the leadership hear it. They heard us loud and clear. Members, retirees, were furious at them for their deceit.

But “The Aetna plan will replace Senior Care” is a sentence that is not in Mulgrew’s email. If they heard us loud and clear, why do they still try to deceive by omission?

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Not so fast.

This may be the deal. We may be stuck with it. Unity, the MLC, the City Office of Labor Relations (OLR) and Mulgrew may be one step away from shutting down Senior Care and forcing most of our retirees into Medicare Advantage.

But they have come close before. And been stopped.

Expect various retiree groups to stand up and fight back. There’s the New York City Organization of Public Service Retirees (for Preservation of Benefits), there’s the Cross Union Organizing Committee (CROC), and there is the UFT’s own “Retiree Advocate”.

We stopped OLR and the MLC before. We will at least try to stop them again.

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Who is deciding what?

Mulgrew was pretty clear, retirees will not be allowed to vote on the changes. It’s not about enough time (Unity may say they are in a rush, but after two years we know damned well that the deadlines are real until they move them, again and again and again.) On principle the UFT’s Unity leaders feel entitled to vote on behalf of retirees without even polling retirees.

But who decided to take away GHI Senior Care? Was that Mulgrew? Adams? OLR?

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Who knew what, and when?

That’s not a real question.

But this is.

If the deal was negotiated between Mulgrew and Aetna, why was Aetna making the presentation to the MLC? Why wasn’t Mulgrew, or Sorkin, or one of the UFT’s attorneys taking responsibility for the deal they brokered?

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Loud and Clear. One last time.

They heard us loud and clear.

“We heard you loud and clear”

And, according to Mulgrew and Murphy, they went for a better deal, based on “hearing us loud and clear.”

Mulgrew and Murphy say this one is much better than they one they tried to jam down retirees’ throats in the spring of 2021.

They heard us loud and clear.

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You know who they did not hear “loud and clear”? They did not hear Unity members, who either believed every falsehood being put forward, or stayed silent. Sure, there were some who grumbled a bit privately. Some grumbled more than a bit.

And some actively shilled for the campaign to force our retirees into privatized Medicare Advantage.

The other day I read on social media a Unity member who promoted Mulgrew’s position every step of the way these last two years saying “The UFT and MLC have been working to make sure that all of us are protected under any new plan and the concerns that we have had regarding the Network of Doctors, Preauthorizations and Copays are addressed to our satisfaction. They heard all of us and continue to negotiate these concerns with Aetna.”

You are not one of us.

(And I thought copays were out? How come Aetna and Mulgrew (and the rest of Unity and the MLC and OLR) are trying to bring them back?)

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So, who did they hear? Who gave them this valuable feedback?

They heard from all of us. Retirees were not happy. Upset. Angry. Furious.

They heard on the blogs. They heard on twitter. They heard from politicians. They heard in emails. They heard in phone calls.

And they heard at the Exec Board, starting this September, when newly elected non-Unity reps started asking hard questions.

And they heard, loud and clear, from Retiree Advocate, an organization of retirees who are against prior authorizations.

Retiree Advocate won 30% of the retiree vote. And they provided this valuable feedback.

Loud and clear? We forced the leadership to hear us, loud and clear.

The Unity leadership tried not to listen, but they could not avoid hearing us.

Do Mulgrew and Unity like hearing “loud and clear”? Nope. Retiree Advocate, 30% of the vote, no voice in running the Retired Teachers Chapter, no voice at the Delegate Assembly, no voice at the NYSUT Representative Assembly, no voice at the AFT Convention.

That’s the way Mulgrew and the UFT leadership like it – not having to hear our voices at all.

But we will continue to make our voices heard.

Loud and Clear.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ken Zaug permalink
    March 3, 2023 pm31 5:04 pm 5:04 pm

    Disgusting that the union leaders who are supposed to represent us threw us under the bus . Everyone knows Advantage Plans are not as good as Medicare. They are all liars .


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