On Thursday, Mayor Adams overruled Comptroller Brad Lander, who had refused to approve the change from private health insurance to implement his contentious Medicare Advantage Plan for the city’s retired municipal staff.
Last Monday, Lander disclosed that he had used a rare comptroller power to halt Adams’ agreement to enroll the city’s about 250,000 retirees in an Advantage plan run by the private health insurance behemoth Aetna.
Lander justified his action by questioning the Advantage plan’s legality because a group of retired municipal employees was actively suing Adams in Manhattan Supreme Court to stop him from enacting the plan.
Adams refuted Lander’s claims in a statement released Thursday afternoon, asserting that he had utilized his executive authority to overturn the comptroller’s decision.
According to Adams, that enables the city to continue forward with its plan to convert seniors from traditional Medicare to the new Advantage framework starting on September 1.
According to the charter, Adams stated, “We are clearly within our rights to deem this contract registered.
We look forward to working with Aetna to ensure a smooth transition to the plan for our city’s eligible retirees and their dependents.”
Since assuming office, Adams has attempted to enroll retired city workers in an Advantage plan.
Together with the majority of the city’s public sector union leaders, Adams has argued that Advantage is a win-win situation because it continues to offer retirees high-quality benefits while saving the city, in his estimation, $600 million annually in health care costs.
This is because the federal government subsidizes Advantage more than traditional Medicare options.
Adams is incorrect, according to thousands of retired educators, police officers, firefighters, and other municipal workers.
They cited a federal study that concluded Advantage programs may incorrectly refuse beneficiaries “medically necessary care.”
That’s partly because Advantage plans, unlike the regular Medicare supplemental insurance that most city retirees presently have, outsource benefits administration to private insurance companies, which necessitate the pre-authorization of specific medical operations.
To alleviate these worries, Adams’ office also charged Lander on Thursday with encouraging “confusion and misinformation among retirees” by attempting to change the Advantage plan.
A spokesman for Lander, who has joined the retirees in criticizing Advantage’s “barriers to care” in a statement, condemned the mayor for defying him.
According to the spokeswoman, Chloe Chik, “We believe that waiting for the litigation to conclude would be a more prudent course of action.”