Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Medicare Mess Multiplies

I've been observing the bungled NYC Medicare deal for months now, and I'm no happier about it now than I was when I first heard about it. There was a plan, to be administered by Emblem Health, to save money for unions. Staying in standard Medicare would have cost 200 a month per member. 

I read a lot of negative stories about that. They may or may not have been correct, but we'll never know. This plan is effectively dead, and Emblem Health has pulled out of the equation altogether. But the spectre of privatization isn't gone, and the necessity to cut costs somehow seems to remain. NYC workers may soon pay health care premiums for the first time ever. 

The city is in court trying to roll back the lawsuit that prevented the privatized Medicare plan, and we'll see where that goes. Since Mayor Swagger shows no inclination whatsoever to support those of us who keep the city going, it's doubtful we'll be getting any aid from him. It's going to be very tricky to find a solution that works for us, and the people responsible for filing this lawsuit appear to be concerned only with themselves. Don't believe me? Here's a quote from the President of the group that brought the lawsuit:

“The unions shouldn’t be taking this out on current retirees. Their changes should be effectuated on active employees or future retirees,” Pizzitola added.

So, evidently, they should get theirs, and screw the rest of us. This is a little upsetting to me personally as I've chosen to stay in service longer than I really needed to. I could be a retiree, along with her, but now my active and future benefits should be reduced while hers ought to stay the same. No one wants reduced benefits. 

I was not too uncomfortable with Emblem Health administering a city plan. I had cancer around 15 years ago, and they were very good about granting me whatever tests my doctors requested. I'm a lot less sanguine about Aetna, which now that Emblem has walked away, is the next contender to administer the plan. I think they administer our dental plan, and they haven't been helpful at all when I've had issues. I wouldn't be happy to be dumped into a plan they administer. 

I wrote back in March that there may be a negative side to this lawsuit. And indeed, there are possibilities we could see our dental, vision and hearing benefits rolled back. We could see premiums spike, effectively rolling back our compensation in highly inflationary times. It's going to be hard to find a good solution to this issue, and it's going to verge on impossible to find one that satisfies all parties.

I don't have one. It's unfortunate the rollout of this plan was so poorly planned and thought out. It's unfortunate that the MLC didn't even see fit to recruit doctors before rolling out this plan. It's also unfortunate that the people who brought the lawsuit now contend only they should be held harmless while the rest of us should pay. 

The only real solution to this is single payer, pulling our unions out of the health care business altogether, and taking care of all Americans the way most countries take care of their citizens. Given the abysmal state of American politics, that's not happening anytime soon. 

I don't envy the MLC right now, but I certainly hope they think things out better than they did when they engineered the disastrous rollout of the now-failed Medicare Advantage plan.

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