Many New York State union members oppose Governor Kathy Hochul’s election as Chief Justice Hector LaSalle. James Mahoney, president of the New York State Iron and Steel Workers’ District Council, opposed Governor Hole’s election two weeks ago, exclaiming, “She promised us that we would sit down at the table. She put us on the menu.”
Unfortunately, the Hochul administration has also put medical benefits on the menu for 1.2 million New York State employees. Beginning in July 2023, there will be significant reductions in out-of-network benefits for New York State Health Insurance Empire Plan members, many of whom are union members. These cuts will significantly reduce the comprehensive access to health care currently enjoyed by government employees and union members thanks to Plan Empire.
These cuts are touted by the government as a cost control mechanism that will encourage on-chain usage. Anyone can read between the lines and call it what it is: Gov. Hole’s administration is defunding the “Empire Plan” of union members and their families.
Many of our unionized patients required life-saving emergency medical care as well as essential elective services that were fully covered by the Empire Plan. Emergency cardiac catheterization to save a person after a heart attack. Emergency spine surgery to prevent spinal cord injury. Emergency evacuation in case of cerebral hemorrhage. Breast reconstruction surgery after removal of a breast tumor. Breast reduction surgery so female detectives can wear bulletproof vests. These cuts will directly impact such emergency and elective care and result in Plan members and patients in this state as a whole losing access to these critical health care services that have saved their lives.
Governor Hole’s administration claims that from 2012 to 2016, only 16% of Empire Plan members used out-of-network services, and most members will be fine. This is far from the truth. Opt-out of out-of-network services deprives registered users of choice and access. Ultimately, in-network benefits for union members will drop significantly as United Healthcare, which implements the Empire Plan, pushes more and more doctors out of the network to discourage medical use.
Are union members paying less for such a drastic cut in their sickness benefits? Nope! The incredible reality is that two-week Empire Plan Family Plan premiums will rise to $241.79 in 2023 from $219.75 in 2022. Union members receive significantly less access to health care for themselves and their families and pay significantly more. Make it understandable.
Many of our patients, who are union members, are understandably upset when they are told about upcoming layoffs. Many took jobs in the public sector and were willing to accept lower wages in exchange for comprehensive medical benefits for themselves and their families. In addition, many of our patients have been on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping our staff running and putting their families and lives at risk; these abbreviations are offensive and completely unfair to them.
We urge Hole to reconsider such drastic cuts to the NYSHIP imperial plan. Our patients who have done so much for New York State deserve better.
These New York doctors:
Daniel Haller, MD, FACS, Emergency Surgeon
Arain Abdul, MD; Orthopedic Surgery
Nikhil Agrawal, MD; Plastic surgery
Shahriyor Andaz, MD; thoracic surgery
Ahmad Badri, MD; Orthopedic Surgery
Huma Badri, PDM; Foot and ankle surgery
Svetlana Danovich, MD; Plastic surgery
Tim Henderson, MD; Orthopedic Surgery
Deborah Ibrahim, MD; physiatry
Dina Ibrahim, PDM; Foot and ankle surgery
Hemant Kaliya, MD; Pain management
Faisal Mahmoud, MD; Orthopedic Surgery
Tyrone Mayorga, PDM; Foot and ankle surgery
Frank Ocasio, MD; Pain management
Purvi Parikh, MD; Allergy and Immunology
David Paris, DO; Plastic surgery
Claudia Rios, MD; Internal Medicine
Edward Rubin, MD; Pain management
Daniel Sajewski, MD; Anesthesiology
Stephen Shulman, MD; Anesthesiology
Faisal Siddiqui, MD; Cardiology
Simon Smith, D.O.; Cardiology
Kim Tucker, MD; Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery