The Case for Tier 6 (and later Tier 4) Members to Oppose Changes to Our Healthcare

Tier 6ers have it rough. We have to work for larger portions of our lifetimes and contribute to our pensions fat higher rates, only to receive fewer proportional benefits if we even make it to the absurd minimum retirement age of 63. But, many of us will stick it out, and will therefore receive medical care under whatever system is left for retirees. So, Tier 6 needs to care about what’s going on with retiree healthcare right now. As it turns out, Tier 6ers and younger Tier 4ers stand to lose the most if City Administrative Code 12-126 is changed.

  • Additional payroll deductions will hurt Tier 6 the most. There’s been a lot of propaganda about 12-126. We’ve been threatened that if we don’t get it changed, and if retirees aren’t switched over to a Medicare Advantage program (MAP), currently active DOE employees will have to start paying premiums. But, 12-126 literally exists to protect both in-service and retired members from paying premiums up to the HIP benchmark. By amending the City’s requirement to provide for our healthcare, we’d essentially be ensuring the existence of premiums by the midpoint of our careers. Tier 6ers already have to worry about huge deductions from our check to contribute towards our pensions for our entire careers (something most Tier 4ers got to stop worrying about by year 10); we can’t afford to have medical insurance costs deducted from our checks as well. And that’s one big reason that we need 12-126 preserved as is. 
  • Medicare Advantage is already bad now; it will be worse when Tier 6 retires. When Tier 6ers retire, we don’t want lower quality Medicare Advantage programs, with their restricted networks, history of corruption, and Kafkaesque business model of delaying/denying care. Those issues are already bad now, but by the time we retire, they can only be worse. A group of brave retirees didn’t want these issues either, so they fought the move and won (temporarily) based on the language of Administrative Code 12-126. That’s why UFT leadership wants to change the code now: because that’s the quickest way for them to deliver the City the money they owe and get the ball rolling on a privatized Medicare Advantage program.
  • Amending 12-126 is a permanent change based on a temporary program. Even if you think Medicare Advantage is no big deal, the only reason the MLC is pushing it is because the federal government will cover the City’s portion of retiree healthcare if (and only if) they switch retirees over to a privatized Medicare Advantage program. The catch? That program isn’t necessarily going to last. We’re talking about permanently eliminating the City’s obligation to pay for retiree healthcare based on a federal program that could dry up tomorrow. And if the Feds get their way and everyone is moved out of traditional Medicare and put onto managed care plans operated by private insurers, do you really think they’ll keep up the incentive? I for one don’t see why they’d bother. And I don’t want to leave my healthcare up to the whims of a Congress that is far less progressive than our City Council.

So that’s why Tier 6ers should support keeping Administrative Code 12-126 as is. Any savings the City makes will be a short-term gain. By the time we retire, we can be pretty much certain that no one will be paying for our healthcare anymore. And that means we’ll be the ones paying it. There’s only one way to prevent us from losing what little we’re getting in our pensions to healthcare costs – and that’s by keeping the City responsible for paying them. One way to make that happen? Keep 12-126 as is. So write your council member today, and better yet – submit written testimony in today’s  hearings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *