Business Page

Stuart Eber Testimony to Civil Service and Labor Committee January 9, 2023 (see below)

My name is Stuart Eber. I am the Chairperson of the Council of Municipal Retiree Organizations (COMRO) and President Emeritus of the NYC Managerial Employees Association.

I became a Caseworker in the Human Resources Administration in 1970. By the time I retired in 2004, I had been appointed as a Deputy Commissioner for about ten years. During my career I worked with the Office of Labor Relations and the Office of Management and Budget. I understand the need to protect the taxpayers as well as the employees and the residents of our great City.

The Administration has created a false dichotomy. They are forcing you to choose between preserving Medicare as our primary medical coverage with the City paying for our supplemental coverage or imposing premiums on all members of the City health plan. The attempt to rush you to vote on the amendment to Administrative Code 12-126 is just one of their tactics to force us into a Medicare Advantage plan.

Your committee has received thousands of emails from concerned retirees documenting the deficiencies in the for profit private Medicare Advantage plans. In particular, the required pre-authorizations for dozens of procedures and tests has proven to prevent patients from receiving necessary care, the refusal of many doctors and hospitals to accept Medicare Advantage plans, and the billions of dollars the federal government is trying to recoup from fraudulent claims demonstrates why most people do not want to lose Medicare and be forced onto Medicare Advantage.

What should be done? I urge you to hit the pause button – table the motion – and form the blue ribbon panel the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees suggested. The panel would be chaired by a former City official acceptable to all parties and include representatives of the major retiree organizations, the Independent Budget Office, the MLC, the Comptroller’s Office, the Public Advocate’s Office, the Administration, and the City Council. Their charge would be to find alternate means of saving $600 million or more dollars a year in health care costs without imposing premiums or eliminating Medicare.

The history of our City since 1975 proves that we can solve our problems when we all sit down together at the table and work to find solutions to our problems. Please do not allow the Administration to force you into amending the Administrative Code that the courts have ruled protects our Medicare.

Thank you and stay well.