The judge prevents New York City from charging retired city workers a $15 joint fee

A Manhattan judge ordered Mayor Adams’ administration on Wednesday to immediately stop charging retired city workers a $15 joint fee for doctors’ visits.

The ruling by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lyle Frank marks the latest in a long line of health insurance setbacks for the Adams administration, which has tried unsuccessfully for more than a year to convert the city’s 250,000 retirees to a controversial plan and cut costs.

Co-pay status separate from feature dilemmabut also related to how the city funds health care for retired municipal workers.

This past January, retirees on city-subsidised Medicare plans were charged a $15 co-pay—a cost that the administration estimates will be a significant savings at a time when it is struggling to address yawning budget deficits and soaring Medicare costs.

But the New York Public Service Retired Organization, in which I participated Several court battles related to health care With management last year, it filed a lawsuit in November alleging that the paycheck violates a local law that requires the city to provide its retired workers with free lifetime coverage.

Retired city workers were filmed marching near Brooklyn Borough Hall to demand that Mayor-elect Adams maintain their Medicare coverage.

In a ruling issued Wednesday afternoon, Frank said the retiree group’s argument was “very likely to succeed” before his court and issued a preliminary injunction against the administration preventing it from imposing the $15 tax while the case moves forward.

“Co-payments are made by retirees, most of whom are likely to be of fixed income and of modest means,” Frank wrote in the six-page decision, adding that the charge could cause “irreparable harm” to retirees “if they had to prioritize other costs.” for their health care.”

Spokespeople for Adams and the city’s legal department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Steve Cohen, an attorney for the pensioners’ organization, called Frank’s ruling a “big win” and linked it to the Medicare Advantage battle, which his clients have sued the city over.

“Once again, retirees were promised certain benefits, and once again the city chose to ignore those promises,” Cohen told the Daily News. “We are grateful to Judge Frank for reading the contract carefully.”

The ruling comes as Adams continues his efforts to enroll retirees in the Medicare Advantage program.

The mayor maintained that Advantage would provide retirees with solid coverage while saving the city up to $600 million annually — a critical cushion against a budget deficit that his administration estimates could grow by as much as $6 billion in the coming years. His administration’s plan would provide the benefit to retirees for free, while offering them the option to stay on traditional Medicare if they pay a monthly premium of $191.

But thousands of retirees rejected this proposal.

They say Advantage would destroy their benefits, pointing to federal studies that show that plans — run by private companies — can lead to Delay or denial of “medically necessary” care. They also say the $191 opt-out fee violates a city ordinance.

Two courts sided with the retirees, ruling that the city could not implement the plan with a $191 penalty attached because of the same law Frank cited in Wednesday’s ruling.

As a result, Adams turned to the city council, asking it to amend this law so that punishment would become legal.

in A contentious hearing on this issue This week, council members seemed skeptical of Adams’ proposal, and several expressed vocal opposition.

“Our retirees deserve the retirement benefits and healthcare benefits that they were promised, and it’s our duty as elected officials to make sure that stays that way,” Queens Republican Assemblywoman Joan Arreola said Monday.

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