NEW YORK, Sept. 27, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- A coalition of nearly 4,000 retired fire fighters, police officers, teachers, EMS, and many other former City workers has sued the City in an attempt to stop the City from changing their health insurance coverage without the retiree's permission. The Organization of Public Service Retirees, Inc., is a non-profit grass-roots organization formed in late August after the City announced its intention to forcibly switch retirees out of the Medicare "Supplemental" or "Medigap" plan received as a retirement benefit after years of City service. The Organization challenged the City by filing an Article 78 Petition late Sunday in State Supreme Court Manhattan.
The new plan, which affects nearly 250,000 elderly and disabled retirees, is a clear and significant diminution of retirees' current health benefits. In an effort to reduce healthcare cost, the City decided it could shift costs of providing insurance for Medicare-eligible retirees from the City budget to the Federal budget through the new plan. It would impose costly co-pays, deprive retirees of many doctors who refuse to accept the new plan, and impose often-dangerous "prior authorization" hurdles on even the most routine diagnostic tests and procedures.
"The City did this in secrecy, never consulted a single retiree, and is counting on no one having the guts or resources to take on City Hall. They counted wrong," said Marianne Pizzitola, the Organization's President, a retired EMT and 9/11 responder in the Fire Department.
"The Article 78 Petition is a route to challenge government agencies that overstep their authority," said Steve Cohen, a partner at the Pollock Cohen law firm which is representing the retirees. "City employees, retirees, and their dependents are entitled to health benefits paid for by the City up to a specified dollar level. The obligation to pay for that insurance is not only established by law – City Administrative Code Section 12-126 – but is incorporated into most of the collective bargaining agreements that the City has entered into for decades," said Cohen.
"We asked the City to discuss the needs of seniors and those who retired with disabilities after working at Ground Zero, and they rebuffed us," said Pizzitola. "I would hope the City would have the decency to at least meet with those who have served the City and its residents. Sadly, but not surprisingly, the DeBlasio administration has ignored us."
SOURCE Pollock Cohen LLP