Judge blocks New York City from kicking retirees off health insurance


A judge has ordered a stop to the plan to kick a quarter-million retirees off their current Medicare plan and on to the Aetna Medicare Advantage Plan.

A preliminary injunction was issued by the New York County Supreme Court last month. The court was informed that the parties “do not wish to hold any additional argument,” leaving Judge Lyle Frank to side with the retirees.

Marianne Pizzitola, president of New York City Organization of Public Service Retirees and one of the plaintiffs, said this was the third time in the last two years that courts had to step in to stop the city from altering retirees’ healthcare rights.

“We once again call on the city and the Municipal Labor Committee to end their ruthless and unlawful campaign to deprive retired municipal workers of the health care benefits they earned,” Pizzitola said in a prepared statement.

“Knowing after every win, the City has found a way to go around the Judge’s decision, the City Council should support Intro 1099 sponsored by Councilman Charles Barron, and stop this administration from wasting taxpayer dollars appealing righteous decisions by the Court. NYC Retirees earned their right to Federal Medicare and we relied on the promise we would have this benefit through our lifetime.”

Jake Gardener, partner at Walden Macht & Haran LLP and counsel to the retirees, said “Because of Justice Frank’s well-reasoned decision, hundreds of thousands of senior citizens and disabled first responders will be able to continue receiving the medical care they desperately need and to which they are entitled.”

A statement from City Hall Spokesman Jonah Allon said that the city intends to appeal.

“This Medicare Advantage plan, which was negotiated closely with and supported by the Municipal Labor Committee, would improve upon retirees’ current plans.

That includes offering a lower deductible, a cap on out-of-pocket expenses, and new benefits, like transportation, fitness programs, and wellness incentives.

“In addition, it would save $600 million annually, especially critical at a time when we are already facing significant fiscal and economic challenges. This decision only creates confusion and uncertainty among our retirees.”

Hochul called on to sign save the Hudson

Several members of the Assembly majority have signed a letter imploring Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign the Save The Hudson Bill. The proposed legislation would amend the environmental conservation law to prevent nuclear power plant discharges going into the Hudson River.

According to the letter, Holtec International has proposed discharging approximately 1.5 million gallons of tritiated water into the Hudson potentially as early as September.

“Public confidence in the decommissioning process continues to erode,” the Aug. 15 letter read. “The idea that federal regulators may allow Holtec to discharge treated wastewater without waiting for the results of all the required testing is concerning, particularly given the potential danger of the contaminant in question, strontium-90.”

The letter explained how Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey recently blocked Holtec’s plan to similarly discharge treated wastewater into Cape Cod Bay, and as a result the legislators believe equivalent action must be taken to protect the Hudson River.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, a co-sponsor of the bill, has urged Hochul to sign the legislation as soon as possible, saying “there is not a moment to waste.”

Espaillat hosts ethnic roundtable

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat held a roundtable with Dominican leaders and electeds aimed at strengthening Dominican-U.S. relations.

The roundtable addressed an earlier proposal presented to Dominican Republic president Luis Abinader in 2021.

There were more than 30 Dominican American electeds from New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania in attendance. The Dominican diaspora discussed productivity, governance, education, and health.

“I am honored to welcome Dominicans from the region and various parts of the nation to New York this weekend to celebrate our heritage and achievements,” Espaillat said.

“During our recognitions amid festivities this weekend, we also turn our attention to the foremost issues and topics facing families throughout our community and work in collaboration with some of the highest-ranking industry leaders and officials to find solutions and share best practices.”

Dominican president Luis Abinader was in attendance at the Dominican heritage event. Others in attendance included Rhode Island lieutenant governor Sabina Matos, and Helmin Caba, mayor of Perth Amboy in New Jersey.

“Being a part of this dynamic Roundtable discussion with President Abinader has reinforced the transformative power of Dominican Americans in elected offices,” Caba said.

“As mayor, I’m committed to amplifying our community’s voice and addressing the key priorities that resonate with the ever-growing number of Dominican Americans.

According to a press release from the congressman, Espalliat highlighted his legislation that has strengthened the relationships between the U.S. and the Dominican Republic.

At the roundtable they encouraged bilingual guidance, services to support minority owned businesses, the creation of pathways of accreditation for Dominican health professionals, and establish a community health and wellness taskforce for the Dominican community.

Medicare, Aetna Medicare Advantage, New York City, retirees, Marianne Pizzitola, New York City Organization of Public Service Retirees, Judge Lyle Frank, Gov. Kathy Hochul, Hudson River, Adriano Espaillat, roundtable, Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader