NYC’s call to move retirees to a Medicare Advantage plan is being opposed by a 9/11 hero. She’s backed by hundreds of retirees.

(Wendell Potter Now) Wendell Potter, January 17, 2023

Marianne Pizzitola didn’t intend to become a leading expert in the finer details of municipal health plans. 

True, the retired New York City EMT had a front-row seat for decades into the kind of suffering so many go through. But like so many others, it wasn’t until 9/11 that her life really began to change.

“I remember being in our headquarters in downtown Brooklyn, and in the waiting room there were TVs where we watched the planes hit the towers,” she recalls with evident pain and horror that has not receded two decades later. “Suddenly, the waiting room cleared out, and we walked across the bridge and commandeered city buses to join our coworkers at the towers.” 

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“I got there later that day. We ended up staying at work for four days,” she recalls. “We never went home. My neighbors watched my dog. I was in the same clothes. Even our food was covered in dust. I remember finally walking back to headquarters and seeing dust footprints on the carpet.”

Since that unspeakable tragedy, Marianne and her colleagues have continued to pay a price in the form of their health. “All epidemiologists told us we’d see more cancer after 20 years, and they were right,” she says now. Marianne adds that her team, to this day, still loses members due to 9/11-related illnesses. And it’s not limited to the EMTs she served with. “Between our teachers, students in the area, first responders, cleaners, laborers, mechanics, and people affected by the air,” she explains, “we lost more than the number who actually died on 9/11.”

Marianne Pizzitola discusses the issue with Medicare Advantage’s prior authorization requirements

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