New York City Retirees File Class Action Lawsuit Against the City Demanding Continued Access to Promised Medicare Benefits

New York City Retirees File Class Action Lawsuit Against the City Demanding Continued Access to Promised Medicare Benefits

Complaint asserts 12 causes of action; Preliminary injunction motion asks Court to halt City’s plan to strip retirees of their longstanding health insurance 

New York, NY, May 31, 2023 — Today, Walden Macht & Haran LLP, on behalf of the New York City Organization of Public Service Retirees and Medicare-eligible retired City workers, filed a class action against the City of New York challenging its plan to force a quarter-million elderly and disabled retirees off of their existing Medicare insurance and onto an inferior type of insurance called “Medicare Advantage.”  Unlike Medicare—a public program that has protected City retirees for the past 57 years—the City’s new Aetna Medicare Advantage plan is a private, for-profit endeavor that is accepted by a limited network of medical providers, does not cover a vast array of medical services unless Aetna deems them “medically necessary,” and exposes retirees to crippling healthcare costs.

The retirees simultaneously moved for a preliminary injunction to immediately halt this forced switch to Medicare Advantage.  If implemented, the City’s plan will: prevent countless retirees from seeing their doctors and remaining in their continuing care facilities; cause dangerous denials of and delays in medical care; and force senior citizens living on fixed incomes to forego medical care and other necessities.

The lawsuit alleges that, since the 1960s, the City has promised every active and retired City worker that when they became elderly or disabled, they would be entitled to City-funded healthcare through a combination of Medicare and Medicare “supplemental” insurance, which covers healthcare expenses that Medicare does not.  Today’s elderly and disabled retirees reasonably relied on this promise, and therefore argue that the City must continue to honor it.  The lawsuit also alleges 11 other ways that the City’s new healthcare policy violates the rights of retirees, including violations of the New York State Constitution, the Retiree Health Insurance Moratorium Act, the New York State and New York City Human Rights Laws, the City Administrative Procedure Act and the Donnelly Act.

Attached to the legal filings are hundreds of affidavits from retirees, experts, and former high-ranking City officials supporting the allegations in the complaint.

To view the lawsuit and preliminary injunction motion, see here.

Jake Gardener, a partner at Walden Macht & Haran LLP, counsel to the retirees, says, “The City’s new healthcare policy imperils the health of hundreds of thousands of senior citizens and disabled first responders and flagrantly violates their rights.  These retirees dedicated their lives to, and in many cases risked their lives for, this City in reliance on the health insurance benefits they were promised.  To deprive them of those benefits now, in their old age, is an unconscionable bait-and-switch.”

Marianne Pizzitola, President of the New York City Organization of Public Service Retirees, states, “As a former EMT who became sick working at Ground Zero, I feel disgusted and betrayed by the Mayor and union leaders, who chose to enrich themselves at the expense of elderly and disabled retirees.  Retired municipal workers devoted themselves to this city for little pay.  We were guaranteed certain healthcare benefits in return.  To deny us that after a lifetime of service is outrageous and immoral.”

The lawsuit, a hybrid class action and Article 78 proceeding, was filed in New York State Supreme Court.  Walden Macht & Haran LLP is representing the retiree plaintiffs with assistance from co-counsel at Pollock Cohen LLP.

Media Contacts: Verdant Communications 
Julia Pacetti / Aaron Buotte

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