Apparently, no group of retirees is too small for these companies. A combination of an Insurance Brokerage (Assured Partners) and United Health Care have descended into tiny upstate New York Cortland County to engorge themselves on the Medicare benefits from about 400 retired county employees.
The majority cohort of our grossly ill-informed county legislators were told they were going to save $800,000 per year if they forced the retirees into the UHC “advantage” program. That was all they needed to hear. On August 24th after shockingly minimal notice to the retirees, and even deceiving the retirees as to when they would actually vote on it, the legislators voted to shove the retirees into the “advantage” pipe. They first announced they would not vote on it until October. Then the Legislative Chairman pulled a sneak maneuver and suddenly put it on the agenda for August 24th-- contrary to what he had publicy stated previously. He apparently feels this was an appropriate thing to do, he must think himself very clever putting that one over on the retirees. They then bum-rushed the vote through before hardly anyone knew they had moved the vote up by over a month. No hearings, no chance to present witnesses or actual evidence about why the plan might not be best for the retirees---just a rushed, sneak vote with the republican majority ramming it through.
It also appears from what we can discern ( which is very little given the lack of notice) that the legislators never even saw the contract from UHC that they were voting on. They also never saw the fine-print benefits book (called the “Evidence of Coverage” document in UHC-speak), before voting on it. We know they did not see that, because when we asked for it, they said it won’t be available until October! It’s like signing the bottom of a note and mortgage and telling the bank to fill in the details later. The utter lack of due diligence is stunning, but that’s what we have here. The advantage companies and their front-men know they can pull the wool over the rubes’ eyes in these tiny rural counties.
Unlike the retirees in Vermont (10,000) and in New York City (250,000), they likely calculate that they can easily roll over 400 elderly retirees living on fixed incomes who do not have the resources to hire a large law firm to beat them back. Easy pickings for these so called “advantage” health care companies to pick off little groups of retirees who don’t have the money to fight back.
We now have some very elderly retirees, some with stage 4 cancer and other extremely ongoing serious issues who on January 1st, 2024, may now face losing their provider or having their current treatments discontinued subject to the whims of a privatized for profit conglomerate.
This is truly shameful what is being allowed to happen to retirees who worked 30+ years for the Medicare benefit they were promised and paid for out of their own pocket and then to have it stolen away towards the end of their lives for the enrichment of the big private healthcare companies. Letters have been written to our state representatives for this district (Democrats, Anna Kelles and Lea Webb) asking them to at least use their platform to make some noise about this, but so far---no comment.