The following Bills must be acted upon immediately in order to protect our current vested health care coverage. You MUST do your part to insure passage of A05108 and S05184.
To Our Fellow Fire Officers, The City and the Municipal Labor Committee (MLC), representing all City unions, recently announced an agreement to implement a customized program for Medicare-Eligible City retirees, beginning January 1, 2022. The City and the MLC recommend that retirees strongly consider the new premium- free plan with improved benefits, which represents real value for NYC retirees. The new plan, NYC MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PLUS, will be an alliance of Emblem Health, Empire Blue Cross and Anthem Health (the parent company of Empire). Both Emblem and Empire have been administering the existing Senior Care Plan since its inception and are very familiar with our families and City administration policies. NYC will continue to reimburse Medicare Part B premiums. There will be an extensive education program which will begin very soon. The new plan will become the default plan. There will be an opportunity to opt into the current Senior Care Plan but there will be a per person premium of approximately $200 per month.
As of July 26, 2021, there is a special call center established for the NYC Medicare Advantage Plus Plan to answer all your questions. Members should call 1-833-325-1190 for further information. Feel free to contact us with any unresolved issues after you contact the above number.
As you probably know, the Municipal Labor Coalition (MLC) has been involved in a process to select a Medicare Advantage plan to replace Medicare and for Medicare-eligible retirees. This has caused concern among retirees who fear that this change may result in increased costs, reduced benefits, or decreased access to medical providers. The RMA has expressed these concerns to union officials. The latest information we have is from a letter that the UFOA emailed on July 14: The Municipal Labor Committee today voted overwhelmingly to approve a new health plan for Medicare eligible retirees and their dependents to be known as NYC Medicare Advantage. This plan is custom designed for NYC retirees and will replicate the benefits of the current Senior Care plan and add several additional important benefits. The plan will have NO member premium and the City will continue to reimburse Medicare Part B premiums. There have been many rumors and misinformation published recently. The Executive Board, in conjunction with our Family Protection Plan, is preparing a detailed and comprehensive explanation which will be distributed to the membership in the coming days.” NYS Assembly Member Peter J. Abbate (Brooklyn) has introduced a bill (A05108/S05184) titled “ An Act in Relation to Affecting the Health Insurance Benefits and Contributions of Certain Retired Public Employees.” The stated purpose of the bill is to “ensure that the health insurance coverage for certain retired firefighters, police officers, and their dependents are maintained.” RMA members who are NYS residents should contact their state senator and assembly member to ask them to support this bill.
Below are some important points that we think would address most of the concerns that we received:
Concern: A lot of information about changes to Medicare Eligible Retirees is very concerning to me !
Response: As a result of rumors and rhetoric, much of the information that has been recently published in the media is misleading and inaccurate.
Question: Why are changes to GHI Senior Care being considered?
Answer: According to projected cost estimates by actuaries, the current cost payment structure of the City’s existing premiums for GHI Senior Care is not sustainable.
Question: Why are Medicare Advantage plans being considered?
Answer: In order to preserve the current ZERO premium to retired members, cost saving proposals were solicited from vendors. Over the past few years, the federal subsidies to Medicare Advantage programs have increased. This increase in subsidies has resulted in significant cost savings to Employer Group Waiver Plans, such as the proposed NYC Medicare Advantage plan.
QUESTION: How will the MLC know the differences between the plans before a vote is taken?
Answer: It is expected that a side by side comparison of the current and proposed plans will be reviewed by the members of the general MLC before a vote is taken.
Retirees from the private sector or outside NYC that I know do not like the Medicare Advantage plans that they are in.
RESPONSE: The programs being considered are not the Medicare Advantage plans that are advertised to the public.
Question: How different are the proposed plans from the Medicare Advantage plans that I see advertised?
Answer: Only proposals that REPLICATED the current benefits in GHI Senior Care were sought from vendors. The plans being considered are unique and customized to NYC Medicare Eligible Retirees.
Question: Will I need to change my current doctors?
Answer: We do not anticipate any change to the covered patient care providers or facilities.
Question: I heard Memorial Sloan Kettering doesn’t accept Medicare Advantage plans, is this true?
Answer: This is an example of the difference between the standard Medicare Advantage plan and the currently proposed NYC Retiree Medicare Advantage plan. Providers and facilities that currently accept GHI Senior Care are expected to accept the NYC Medicare Advantage plan card as full payment.
Question: Can I stay in GHI Senior Care?
Answer: It is expected that you may opt out of the proposed NYC Medicare Advantage plan but you may need to pay a premium for GHI Senior Care coverage. (end)
This is the latest news from the UFOA, so please keep your rumors to yourself. We will keep you updated on this, so check back frequently.
There has been much discussion among retiree groups concerning the state of health benefits for New York City Medicare eligible retirees. The UFOA recently reported the status of this process and we would like to give our retirees an update. No final carrier has been selected as of this writing but we expect that this will happen in the very near future. This new plan will not be implemented before January 1, 2022. As we have previously reported, the City and the unions represented by the Municipal Labor Committee (MLC) have been investigating the possibility of establishing a Medicare Advantage Plan for Medicare eligible retirees and dependents for more than two years. Within the last year, it became clear that there are insurance carriers offering Medicare Advantage Plans (MA) for large groups that are competitive with traditional Medicare with supplemental coverage such as the City’s Senior Care Plan. Nearly a year ago, the City and MLC began a search and selection process to find an MA plan that would be equal to or better than Senior Care. Two separate actuarial/health benefit consultants have been directly involved in providing assessment and guidance during this process. Several decisions will need to made even after a carrier is selected. It would be a disservice to publish any details in the absence of the selection of a carrier and because Medicare has strict guidelines on all such communication. Please be assured that when the carrier has been selected and implementation has been finalized, there will be an extensive education program to explain all of the benefits and options available to our retirees and their dependents. We anticipate, however, that all members of Senior Care will be enrolled in the new plan but will be able to opt out. We expect Senior Care to remain an option however there will likely be an associated, yet to be determined, premium cost. Whichever carrier is selected, we anticipate that all doctors and other providers will accept the new plan with very few exceptions. All providers who currently accept Medicare must accept the plan's fee schedule which replicates Medicare. There are still some unanswered questions, for instance, we do not know how members in HIP VIP and other plans, will be handled at this time. There is also some detail to be worked out with "split contracts" where one member of a family is not in Medicare. Co-payments of $15 per doctor visit had been agreed to beginning 2/1/2021, but were delayed because of COVID. It has not been determined what, if any, new co-pays will be part of the MA plan. A neutral arbitrator has been overseeing this process and we are awaiting his report before a final decision is made. This process is ongoing. The UFOA will continue to provide updates when more information becomes available.
Nearly 250,000 retired New York City employees and their spouses could have their health insurance changed to “Medicare Advantage” plans managed by private insurers as soon as July 1, New York Focus has learned.
Retirees, who are pushing to delay the switch, say they are worried that a switch away from their current Medicare plan could lead to dramatically higher out-of-pocket costs and a smaller network of providers.
“It’s a little frightening,” said Jane Roeder, a retired city administrator. “The word on the street is that these Advantage plans are fine as long as you don’t get sick, as long as you don’t need the chemotherapy that my friend is having right now, or radiation treatment, or infusion treatment, or skilled nursing.”
The proposed switchover follows a June 2018 agreement between the Municipal Labor Committee, a group that represents retired New York City employees, and the city Office of Labor Relations.
Under that pact, both sides agreed to reduce health care costs for retirees by $600 million a year relative to 2018 forecasts, starting in 2021. Switching to Medicare Advantage, also known as Medicare Part C, was one of eight possibilities proposed at the time.
Under Medicare Advantage, the city projects it would save that sum by paying a fee to a private insurance company to manage a Medicare plan. Documents reviewed by New York Focus indicate a deal is being negotiated between the city and private insurance companies seeking to administer the coverage.
The city currently reimburses retirees the cost of their premiums for Medicare Part B, which covers outpatient care, and also pays for a supplemental “Medigap” plan to insure for services not covered by traditional Medicare.
Premiums for Medicare Advantage are often lower than in traditional Medicare, but involve trade-offs that could affect retirees’ health and finances: a smaller network, and higher out-of-pocket costs, said Naomi Zewde, a professor of public health at CUNY who is a Roosevelt Institute fellow.
“The city is going to save money by making seniors pay more for their health care,” Zewde said. “These are people who worked an entire career under the promise that they would have good health care later on.”
A spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio told New York Focus after this story’s publication that the deal will be a win for both retirees and city government. “Our commitment to our retirees is unwavering, and any new plan will increase both quality and benefits for retirees,” she wrote in a statement. “It will also remain free for them while lowering costs for the City.”
City retirees currently have access to the vast majority of physicians in New York. Medicare Advantage plans generally have fewer options: A 2017 national study from the Kaiser Foundation found that on average, Medicare Advantage plans offered access to just 40% of physicians in Queens.
Contract-related documents made public by the city Office of Labor relations suggest an increase of as much as $6,000 annually in potential out-of-pocket costs per retiree could be in store. Such costs are currently capped at $1,053 per year, according to Len Rodberg, a retired CUNY professor and health policy expert who would be affected by the potential change.
The documents show annual out of pocket costs could reach upwards of $7,000 for an individual — approaching the maximum allowed by Medicare under law.
“Basic city workers in the $30,000 to $50,000 [salary] range, their Social Security payments are smaller, their pension is smaller; they’re going to get hit badly by this,” Rodberg said.
Some budget watchdogs have highlighted retiree health care savings as necessary to bring $2.2 billion in annual city benefits spending under control.
“Health care savings are important. They’re essential to getting the city on solid fiscal footing, due to the rate at which these costs grow,” said Ana Champeny, director of city studies at the fiscally conservative Citizens Budget Commission. “It’s important to come to a consensus about how to control the costs, and how to possibly reduce the retiree health costs too.”
But retiree advocates say the deal in the works is too high a price for members to pay.
“Somehow you’re going to save $600 million, and the 200,000 Medicare retiree recipients are going to somehow get no worse and maybe even better service?” said Stuart Eber, president of the Council of Municipal Retiree Organizations.
The city Office of Labor Relations received eight proposals for Medicare Advantage plans, now winnowed down to two finalists: Aetna and Empire BlueCross BlueShield, multiple retirees said they’ve been informed by their unions.
Cost-cutting employers have been gravitating toward Medicare Advantage, created in 1997 under then-President Bill Clinton. As of 2018, 39% of New York State’s Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans.
“Employers have been gravitating towards Medicare Advantage plans to save money on their retiree health obligations,” said Tricia Neuman, executive director of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Program on Medicare Policy. “New York is not alone.”
Neuman notes that Medicare Advantage plans rely on a list of in-network doctors. “They’re likely to be more limited in their provider network than traditional Medicare coupled with a Medigap policy,” Neuman said.
Some union officials have attempted to obtain information on their future access to services such as lab tests and rehab facilities, to little success.
“We haven’t gotten specific answers to those questions, and because we’re not privy to the negotiations, we don’t know that they’re not an issue,” said Neal Frumkin, a retiree leader with DC 37, the city’s largest public employee union.
Achieving the $600 million savings could involve requiring pre-approval from insurers for certain procedures. “That would mean fewer services that would be covered by the plan, potentially,” Neuman said.
More than half of Medicare Advantage participants are enrolled in plans that require prior authorization for ambulance rides, mental health services, inpatient hospital stays and other services, according to a Kaiser analysis.
CUNY retirees are mobilizing against the Medicare Advantage shift, at least until more details are known. At the end of the April 5 meeting, over 93% of attendees voted to request a moratorium, saying that retirees “have not been provided adequate and timely information” about the details of the proposed change.
None of the unions represented among the Municipal Labor Committee’s officers responded to requests for comment, nor did the city Office of Labor Relations. They include the United Federation of Teachers, the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, DC 37, the City Employees Union and the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators.
Frumkin said that DC37 president and Municipal Labor Committee co-chair Henry Garrido voiced his support for the proposed change at the union’s March executive board meeting.
“Garrido’s position is that it’s a must do because that savings is necessary to stabilize the health benefits for the entire city of New York; the city has to be able to afford to do what they’re doing,” Frumkin said.
“The argument that Garrido makes is that the city fiscally is in a dangerous place, therefore we are trying to come up with savings to enable them to get over this financial problem that they have.”
Impending move to privately managed health plans could save taxpayers as much as $600 million annually — at a high cost to retirees, who may have to pay more for less care and fewer doctor choices, some warn.
UP TO DATE INFO AS OF 6/21/21: https://theintercept.com/2021/06/07/medicare-new-york-public-sector-unions/
RMA Executive Trustee Wilbur Hutchins turned "100" on Saturday April 3rd, 2021.
Wilbur informed us that he would like to receive some birthday cards in the US Mail. He said he would rather have the cards in hand that have e-mails sent to him. He said his computer is acting up anyway. You can send a Birthday wish to Wilbur and address it to:
190-45 111th Road
St. Albans, NY 11412
Wilbur stated to us that he has received his second vaccine shot and feels good about getting the vaccine. However Wilbur has had to endure the effects of Cellulitis, recently, with some stays in the hospital because of it.
Wilbur is a devout member of the Retired Member's Association and has been at most, if not all of the meetings. In the picture he is celebrating his 98th Birthday at the April 2019 Meeting.
On this new page we will present articles pertaining to the 20th Anniversary. See our First Entry on our
Read all about this 9-11-01 foundation
on our New Page<click
As vaccines become more widely available, it's important to keep taking steps to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Once the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available to you,
here's what you should know:
Visit CDC.gov for additional trustworthy information on the COVID-19 vaccines.
The Medicare Team
The Secure Act increased the required minimum distribution (RMD) age from 70 1/2 to 72, marking the first change to the RMD age since first becoming law in 1986. The age increase will only apply to anyone born on or after July 1, 1949. Now that some taxpayers will be able to defer distributions from retirement accounts until age 72, should they? It turns out, tax-deferred growth isn’t always a no-brainer.
First, as a practical matter, many retirees can’t actually afford to hold off on using their retirement savings until they’re 72. Even for those who can wait until they reach RMD age, it might not make sense to. The ‘right’ withdrawal strategy will depend on multiple factors, which change over time along with the laws, tax code, and the individual’s personal financial situation.
Here are some of the important considerations to discuss with your financial and tax advisor as you draft a retirement income strategy.
Especially for investors who have already retired, tax planning can really pay off. If you’ve already retired and don’t need income from retirement accounts before age 72, you could be living off funds from a taxable brokerage account and perhaps Social Security, too. Depending on your finances, this could land you in some of the lowest tax brackets.
In 2020, married couples filing jointly are in the 12% marginal tax bracket until $80,250 of taxable income before progressing into the 22% rate on the next dollar of income. For couples with less than $80,000 in taxable income, they may pay no tax at all on long-term capital gains!
In this type of situation, it could be advantageous for taxpayers to consider accelerating the realization of income to ensure they’re able to take full advantage of a favorable tax bracket. With some planning, you could calculate how much to take from tax-deferred accounts to stay under the next marginal tax bracket increase (or whatever metric makes sense for your tax and financial situation).
The Fire Department Pension fund has relocated from headquarters to its new location in Manhattan.
The address is 1 Battery Park Plaza, 9th Floor NY , NY 10004-1405
Phone number : 929 436 0099
Please see the attachment for further details.
(CLICK ON "FIND OUT MORE")
(REIMBURSEMENTS COMMENCED MONDAY MARCH 23rd, 2021, EITHER THRU A CHECK IN THE US MAIL OR THRU A DIRECT DEPOSIT INTO YOUR ACCOUNT.)
TO WATCH A VIDEO ABOUT THE REIMBURSEMENT,
APRIL 2021 UPDATE:
Medicare Part B Reimbursements
Medicare Differential Payments were sent out by the NYC Office of Labor Relations (OLR) on or about Monday, March 22, 2021. These differential payments are only applicable to members on Medicare prior to 2016 who did not receive the full amount that they were entitled to.
The actual reimbursements for Medicare Part B will be sent to members in mid-April. If you have direct deposit for your pension check, it will be direct deposited. If you receive paper pension checks, you will be mailed a check.
Please refrain from contacting the NYC Office of Labor Relations until after you receive your Medicare Part B Reimbursements in mid-April.
Medicare Part B Reimbursements Incorrect Amounts
Retirees who believe they received the incorrect amount on their Reimbursement should submit the differential form along with the Social Security 1099s for the year(s) you feel you were shortchanged, using the Leapfile Website.
Leapfile Website (Select IRMAA/Differential, then upload the FORM and 1099s):
If you did NOT receive a Medicare Part B Reimbursement from the NYC Office of Labor Relations, it is probably because you have not yet submitted the Medicare Part B Reimbursement Application (along with a COPY of your Medicare Card). Alternatively, if you are not currently enrolled with the NYC Health Benefits / Medical Plan, you would not be eligible for the Part B Reimbursement.
If you have already uploaded the necessary Medicare Reimbursement Forms to OLR using the Leapfile Website, and/or if you have any follow up questions with the NYC Office of Labor Relations regarding your Medicare Part D Reimbursement, you can email email@example.com.
To all Retirees,
The following notice is to inform retirees on Medicare that your 2019 Standard Part B reimbursement from OLR (Office of Labor Relations) may not have been for the full amount you and/or spouse paid. This applies ONLY to those who were enrolled in Medicare PRIOR TO 2016. If you enrolled in Medicare in 2016 or later, the reimbursement amount
should have been accurate.
If affected, you will be required to fill out a Medicare Differential Form found in a link with this e mail. The reimbursement is scheduled for some time in the 1st quarter of 2021. Follow the instructions and return with the supporting paperwork stated in Section III of the form.
***SEE LINK FOR FORM BELOW ***
ALSO those recipients and/or spouse who are subject to IRMAA and were enrolled in Medicare prior to 2016 may not have received the full reimbursement for their standard Part B. IRMAA recipients do not need to file for the differential as long as they have submitted the IRMAA reimbursement form. When the IRMAA reimbursement is paid, (October 2020) the differential for the Standard Part B will be included. The form for IRMAA reimbursement is in the link below.
Note that if you had not filed for IRMAA reimbursement in the past but had paid IRMAA you can submit for 2018 and 2017 using the form below.
*** CONTINUE TO LINK BELOW ***
An explanation has been provided by OLR regarding this issue: As Part B premiums have increased, the amount of the increase has, at times, been more than what the social security COLA increase provided to some recipients. Had the full increase of the Part B premium been applied to all, a social security recipient could have had a net reduction in their monthly benefit.
Because of Medicare's "hold harmless” provision, the monthly increase to an individual's Part B premium could vary in order to avoid a reduction in that person's monthly Social Security benefit. This results in variable amounts being paid for Part B premiums that are specifically unique to each individual. The increase in Part B premiums could vary from $1 to $318 per person. Since, the City has no way of verifying what each person pays for their Medicare Part B premium, documentation of what an individual actually paid in Part B premiums is needed.
Medicare Part B reimbursements were issued for the calendar year 2019 for Medicare-eligible retirees and
Medicare-eligible dependents in April 2020.
Any retirees who were Medicare eligible on or after calendar year 2016 are eligible for $134.00 per month
(12 months= $1,608 per each eligible person).
They receive this amount automatically.
Any retirees who were Medicare eligible prior to the calendar year 2016 must complete the Medicare Part B differential Form (see below link) and provide SSA-1099 for the calendar year 2019. Those retirees who submit this form may receive an additional amount up to $300 under the Medicare Part B differential.
This payment will be issued in Spring 2021
IT MUST BE SENT ELECTRONICALLY FOR
US MAIL IS NOT BEING ACCEPTED AT THIS TIME.
Due to the pandemic OLR’s offices were closed on March 17, 2020. Correspondence arriving after March 11 was not processed. Please review the following if you were impacted by this. You will have to resubmit forms and documentation electronically if you filed forms by U.S. Mail for the following: 2019 Medicare Part B Differential, or 2019 Medicare IRMAA reimbursement, or Initial Enrollment for you or spouse in the Part B reimbursement plan Please visit the OLR website for instructions, step-by-step video and the needed forms to complete this task. OLR home page: healthbenefitshome (nyc.gov) Medicare Part B reimbursement information forms and links to submit via e mail. health-retiree-medb-irmaa (nyc.gov) Submitting instructions health-retiree-leapfile-instructions (nyc.gov) If you are submitting paperwork for future reimbursements such as 2020 Part B differential (Form will be available in April 2020) , IRMAA 2020, (Form not yet available) or initial Part B reimbursement enrollment, (Form is available on line) it is recommended to continue with the electronic filing unless instructed differently. Please monitor the OLR homepage for guidance.
On July 29, 2019, the President signed into law The Never Forget the Heroes: James Zadroga, Ray Pfeifer, and Luis Alvarez Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. The VCF Permanent Authorization Act extends the VCF’s claim filing deadline from December 18, 2020, to October 1, 2090, and appropriates such funds as may be necessary to pay all approved claims. The VCF recognizes that claimants will have many questions about) the impact of the legislation on their claims. The VCF is committed to processing claims without interruption and issuing full payments to those who received a reduced award. Additional details about the VCF Permanent Authorization Act can be found here.
Please check this website frequently for updates.
We are Retired NYC Firefighters of all ranks. We meet five times per year at two locations; 901 Lakeville Road in New Hyde Park and 3051 Nostrand Ave in Brooklyn, NY. Through our Newsletter and this website we hope to keep you informed about your pensions.
Are you passionate about what we're doing? Let us know! We are always looking for volunteers to help us make our organization better for our members. We'll help you find a way to volunteer that best suits you. We're excited to have you join the team!
Whether you help through monetary donations, volunteering your time, or spreading our mission through word-of-mouth, thank you. We couldn't accomplish our goals without the help
of supporters like you.
RETIRED MEMBER'S ASSOCIATION, INC
Fire Department City of New York
ORGANIZED JANUARY 1ST, 1946
APPLICATION FOR MEMBERSHIP
We offer three types of Membership.
Life Membership- one time payment of $150.00 gives you a gold RMA Membership Card and our periodic newsletters. This is for new members.
Life Membership-for existing members with a minimum total of
10 consecutive paid dues years. One time payment of $75.00 gives you a Gold RMA Membership Card and our periodic newsletters.
Annual Membership-Annual dues of $15.00 gives you 1 year of membership with associated Card, and one year of issued Newsletters.
Once you have decided on
the type of Membership you desire, download the PDF Application above, fill out and send with your check
made payable to the RMA
and send via US Mail to:
PO Box 1332 Baldwin, NY 11510
Attn: Jim Hayhurst