Retired New York City employees scored a major victory on Tuesday, after a judge sided with advocates in a major decision affecting the health care of thousands of city dwellers.
The NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees got the ruling in the state’s Appellate Court, which dealt a blow to a proposal that would transition city retirees onto a private Medicare Advantage Plan, rather than keep them on their current government-funded plans.
Advocates contend that the change would result in more expensive bills, with fewer in-network options for health coverage.
Tuesday’s decision upheld a lower court ruling from March.
The Adams administration had been pushing to transition the nearly 250,000 retired workers to a private Medicare Advantage plan, while allowing them to opt out for a fee.
A key part of that plan broke the law, the ruling said.
“The city will pay the entire cost of health insurance coverage for city employees, city retirees, and their dependents, not to exceed one hundred percent of the full cost of H.I.P.-H.M.O. on a category basis,” the judge ruled.
Advocates with the Organization of Public Service Retirees contend that the switch would not provide the same health care benefits, while offering lesser choices for health care providers.
The city contended that allowing the change would save around $600 million per year.
Those savings would come in part by levying a $192 monthly fee in order for retirees to stick with their normal Medicare coverage, rather than taking the Advantage plan.
The initial ruling from March, which was upheld on Tuesday, found that plan to be unlawful, as the city guarantees premium-free health coverage for the entirety of a retired city worker’s life.
“The appellate Court ruled unanimously in favor of the retirees and we are very grateful for that ruling. We need the City Council to not introduce any legislation or amend the existing Administrative Code as it relates to this, until a meeting with the retirees is conducted,” said the Organization of Public Service Retirees. “Now, it’s time for Mayor Adams and the unions to sit with the retirees to discuss healthcare savings. We have already identified at least $325 Million in savings and we just got started.”
“Retirees have been heard by the courts and it is time for City Hall to hear and see us. Our time of service to this great City should not be ignored and our healthcare should not be scrutinized or watered down for someone else’s gain,” the organization added.