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To the editor:
The contract that will force retirees into a Medicare Advantage plan is now in the hands of the city comptroller. He must decide by June 9 whether to register it. While the comptroller, Brad Lander, has expressed concerns about privatization, his authority is limited to ensuring that the procurement process followed all the relevant laws and regulations.
If he declines to register it, the contract will be returned to the mayor who may override the decision. Section 1-03 (a) - “Ethics” - of the Procurement Policy Board Rules states that public employees responsible for the expenditure of public dollars “must make certain that their conduct does not raise suspicion or give the appearance that they are in violation of their public trust.”
Such a violation occurred when the Office of Labor Relations, in collusion with Municipal Labor Committee leadership, gave arbitrator Martin Scheinman the authority to intervene and make a recommendation. He favored Aetna with an “Opinion and Award” on Dec. 15, 2022.
The arbitrator cited the 2018 Health Savings Agreement as the source of his authority. However, the agreement actually expired June 30, 2021.
In addition, as Marianne Pizzitola, President of of the New York City Organization of Public Service Retirees observed, “Scheinman’s role as Arbitrator is limited to resolving disputes between the city and the MLC. Except here, there is no dispute: the City and the MLC have been trying for 18 months to force retirees into Medicare Advantage…”Section 2-08 (b) of the Procurement Rules governing vendor responsibilities requires “a satisfactory record of performance” and “business integrity.”
The New York Times has reported that “CVS Health, which owns Aetna, told investors its practices were being investigated by the Department of Justice.”
Clearly, the comptroller has grounds to decline registration of the Medicare Advantage contract.
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