News

Fight the Medicare ‘fix’

The Chief, Evelyn (Evie) Jones Rich, March 10, 2023

To the editor,

The fix is in to destroy Medicare, the signature program which emerged from the civil rights movement of the 1960s to guarantee public, free, quality health care to our nation’s seniors.

The idea is to destroy the Medicare trust funds that contain the money to pay for the program and which derives its dollars primarily from a payroll tax on current workers earning salaries up to $142,000 annually.

The plan is ingenious! Create programs — like Medicare Advantage programs —  which siphon money from the Medicare trust funds — in as many ways as possible — and ultimately declare the funds insolvent, replacing them with privatized health care. Corporate middlemen in charge of insurance companies, private hospitals, doctor practices and pharmaceutical companies reap billions from  Medicare trust funds via Medicare Advantage programs which leave seniors with inadequate health care.

This plan lies behind current efforts to transfer 250,000 municipal retirees and our dependents into the recently created private Aetna Medicare Advantage program which will replace Senior Care — the public quality health plan retirees now enjoy! Our mayor, Eric Adams, is perhaps unwittingly supporting the plan! 

Leading the fight to transfer retirees — and ultimately current workers — into Medicare Advantage plans are the current “leaders” of the Municipal Labor Committee, the umbrella organization of the city’s municipal unions. 

The “leaders” — Henry Garrido (DC 37), Michael Mulgrew (UFT), Gregory Floyd (Teamsters), Henry Rubio (CSA) and Harry Nespoli (Sanitation) — have more in common with the health care middlemen than the lowly workers they represent. Their annual salaries of hundreds of thousands of dollars and their power and prestige dwarf that of the “essential workers” who kept the city afloat during the pandemic and the small pensions of the retirees they, allegedly, represent.

Ultimately, the name of the game is money, privatization and profits.  The recent MLC vote to award the health-care contract to Aetna is their victory. However, the war continues. We, retirees, are fighting back. We’re not giving up and we’re not giving in! We are ordinary people addressing the extraordinary task of fighting privatization, saving our public health care and saving the city.  

See you in the courts and in the streets.   

Source: The Chief