News From OSA - May, 2006

MED D. Medicare "D" problems continue to annoy our retirees. First, some of our members, (very few, thank goodness) signed up for one or another of the Med "D" equivalent plans while remaining in their GHI or HIP, etc. plans.

CMS (the initials for this agency handling Med "D") as a result, now ordered the earlier plan (GHI or HIP, etc.) to discontinue the earlier coverage, since no one is ‘allowed' to belong to two "equivalent plans.” Notices were sent to those affected, but since our plans include medical coverage beyond drugs, an error on drug coverage has caused at least temporary loss of all other medical coverage for a few families.

Second, this problem has also, to a lesser extent, affected married members whose spouses have coverage through DC 37 or the UFT.

Finally, it turns out that Med "D" has a formulary of acceptable drugs and will not reimburse for drugs outside this formulary. The good news on that problem is that, GHI, for example, will try to fill this gap by covering those drugs. The bad news in that case is that you pay one quarter of the full cost, GHI pays three quarters and none of the out-of-pocket expense for each drug is "counted" by Med "D" as a co-pay.

All of the unions keep on learning more details about Med "D" as the months go on, and the problems keep on coming.

The OSA Welfare Fund has tentatively agreed to provide help to any members who spend over $3,600 in out-of-pocket expenses or who need the drugs excluded by the formulary, but since we are learning as we go, details are proving hard to nail down. A report of the trustees' modifications of the OSA Welfare Fund plan will be announced at the member-ship meeting. At minimum, the trustees are expected to authorize full reimbursement of the 5% for out-of-pocket Med D drug costs that are above the $3,600 limit.

NEGOTIATIONS. These are proceeding unevenly everywhere. Instead of all of us negotiating at once, the unions are concluding deals individually and with varying, and often regrettable, results.

OSA is due the 1% since 7/1/04 for our City members, and is due the 1% and the 3.25% for our members at the Transit Authority. At the same time, we may be closer to an agreement on the 1% at the Transit Authority (with the 3.25% sure to follow) than we are with the City. The City, however, has already paid the 3.25% to those of us who work for City agencies.

DC 37 is expected to report soon on their negotiations for the period starting 7/1/05, and their results may be in place before our membership meeting this month. OSA continues to insist that a single coalition would do better, and that fragmented bargaining is a really bad idea that is hurting us all.

CONTRIBUTIONS. The Central Labor Council asked other labor unions to come to the aid of the Transport Workers Union. A few locals responded very strongly. The Corrections Officers Benevolent Association recently suggested a $10 per member assessment that would generate a million dollars for the TWU and two more million dollars for a war chest to fight for changes in the Taylor Law.

Actually, OSA was a bit in advance of the COBA suggestion. We already have collected funds and have notified Randi Weingarten that we have $10,000 set aside for helping TWU. The UFT itself has $50,000 put aside at present, and is gathering more from other unions showing a willingness to help. OSA is sending out certificates of recognition to the hundreds of our members and retirees who sent in contributions. The certificates should arrive within thirty days of this mailing.

GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING. The next General Membership meeting is to be held on Thursday, May 25, 2006 starting at 6pm sharp in the union office at 220 East 23rd Street, Suite 707. A meeting notice can be downloaded here to remind you and other brothers and sisters of the date. Both the Administrative Staff Analyst list and the results of DC37's bargaining should be available at the membership meeting