REMINDER: Medicare Open Enrollment ends December 7th

Reminder: Monroe County retirees in Medicare Blue Choice MUST enroll in a new plan of their choosing by TODAY, December 7, the Federal Medicare Open Enrollment deadline.

If a retiree in Medicare Blue Choice fails to enroll in a new plan by December 7 they will default to Traditional Medicare which does not have prescription drug coverage.

For more information and assistance, retirees can go to monroeretirees.com and call 833-439-0373.

This change does not effect pre-Medicare, dental or Classic Blue Secure plans.

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Flu Shots at the Police Locust Club

On October 17th, between the hours of 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. The Rochester Police Locust Club located at 1425 Lexington Avenue will host a flu shot clinic. All members are invited to participate. Just bring your medical insurance card.

Please click here for further information.

CSEA Legal Meeting Minutes

CSEA Briefing on status of the legal action taken against monroe county…..
Monday, July 24, 2017 2PM
IBEW Local 86 Union Hall
2300 East River Rd.

Introductions of speakers:

MS. Flo Tripi, CSEA President, monroe county CSEA Labor Relations Specialist Mr. Rob Ellis
CSEA Attorney, Albany, Jennifer Zegarelli…several other members of the CSEA Rochester team also assisted with answering the many questions that came up during the briefing.

Ms. Tripi opened the meeting by reviewing the reason for the meeting; she explained that monroe county has changed some of the health benefits and not in favor of our retirees.

These changes have resulted in higher co-pays, increased prescription costs/co-pays, seeing a specialist resulting in higher co-pays and DOES NOT cover some of the medical needs of our retirees. At this time, Ms. Tripi introduced the CSEA Attorney, Ms. Jennifer Zegarelli. Ms. Zegarelli is based in Albany, New York and travels the state regarding labor relations issues.

Ms. Zegarelli (518-257-1443) shared information on the process that CSEA has gone through over the past 10 years representing their membership. Once advised by several members and advised of the changes that started affecting these individuals CSEA began work on these issues. Ms. Zegarelli has taken over this work from now retired Mr. Paul Bamburger. Ms. Zegarelli reviewed the legal actions taken over the years:

Legal action was filed in February 2009 on behalf of CSEA member, Ms. Maggie Bryon. This action was filed against monroe county on her behalf to STOP the municipality from changing already contractually agreed upon retiree health benefits. After meetings in chambers with the county representative present, it was decided to withdraw this action. The Judge felt that this action was too large and language used was ambiguous. So, in order to pursue future actions, this proceeding was withdrawn.

Legal action was filed in July 2015 on behalf of CSEA member, Ms. Roberta Ames. In November, 2016 case was dismissed by monroe county supreme court Justice Debbie Martin. The Court decision was based on reviewing “past practices” stating that Medicare has been around for such a long period that this case had no merit.

This legal action HAS NOT been filed yet. CSEA attorneys have rewritten said legal action and plan is to file it with the 4th Appellate NYS Court. The CSEA action has been broken down into three (3) classes, those that have retired before 2005, 2005 to 2013 and those who retired after 2013. All will be represented within this action.

There has been another case filed on behalf of the CSEA Unit representing the monroe county sheriff’s command staff. This filing was dismissed as the names of those individuals stated in this action will be involved with #3 of this writing.

Grievances have been filed against monroe county regarding retiree’s dependents (children), still pending, and no decisions from hearing officer.

Many questions were asked at the end of this portion of the presentation. I wish more S.O.A.R. members could have attended to hear the information that was shared from these questions. Such as if spouses would be covered in any legal CSEA action? Yes!
Have other Unions/Groups started to push back to other municipalities? Yes!
Can CSEA produce talking points to use when calling family, friends and elected officials? Yes!

One attendee spoke of moving to Orleans County, NY and having his retiree medical insurance benefits dropped. Answer, information from the county explains that a retiree can only reside in an area covered by Excellus.

With any gathering, we will work our best to bring to you the information that is being distributed, but that does not release you, the individual, from making your own inquiries and investigation on any issue, then make your educated decision.

Do your research, check with your union officials, check with CSEA and other retirees web sites for more information, Stay connected! Check in with the New Yorkers against Corruptions web site.

*MS. TRIPI SPOKE OF THE NEED FOR ALL IN ATTENDANCE TO START WORKING ON THESE ISSUES BY SPEAKING WITH FAMILY & FRIENDS, AND BY CONTACTNG THEIR ELECTED OFFICIALS. We need to mobilize. We need everyone to contact family, friends and our local officials to share information and express our displeasure with these changes. Do you know that some of our fellow retirees have had to choose between food and medicine? That’s how important it is to place pressure on our elected officials… Stay quiet, stay uninformed and lose your benefits you have worked so hard for.

Ms. Tripi spent the remainder of the meeting sharing information on the possible upcoming NYS Constitutional Convention. The vote to hold the event in 2018 is scheduled for this fall’s elections, November 7, 2017.The vote to hold this event MUST be defeated. The preposition #1 is located on the reverse side of this ballot. LOOK FOR IT. If you do not vote it will be counted as a Yes Vote!

You may ask the question, “Why should this convention not occur”? The need for this convention may be broadcast as a way of working on political reform, don’t believe it. The real reason is to open state pensions for use as the governor determines. First and foremost, any/all work that could possibly be worked on during this type of event can be worked on during our regularly scheduled legislation sessions, yes, our legislators could deal with any/all issues when they are at work for us during regular legislative sessions!
If there is a convention, who will attend Each of the 62 NYS districts can send 2 representatives. They will be paid $80,000, unlimited office space and staff. First order of business for these delegates is to establish a time line for work, their work could drag on for an unlimited amount of time! Most importantly, the delegates are chosen by the governor! Whom do you think he will appoint to this work? The issues that it has been reported that they could work on is; public pensions, collective bargaining rights, strengthening the NYS SAFE ACT, and any other part of our NYS Constitution they wish to rewrite.
November 7, 2017, Election Day…..remember what we can do to assist with the control of our state.

County Health Benefits Outside Monroe County

At a recent question CSEA Legal Briefing meeting, an individual asked why his county retiree health benefits were canceled after he moved into Orleans County.

S.O.A.R. retiree health benefit subcommittee researched this question and found the following:

According to Excellus benefit book 2017, Section 2.3: Medicare Blue Choice (HMO-POS) is available to residents of the following NYS counties; Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Yates and Wayne Counties.

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Alternative Sources for Prescription Medicine

I recently investigated sources that an individual could use to obtain their medications from locations within Canada. As many of you may already know, medications purchased in Canada are less expensive than those obtained in the U.S. Thus this report!

It was very interesting to learn the following:

A visitor in Canada can purchase certain medications for personal use/certain amounts and transport the item(s) over the United States and Canadian border. An individual must declare the possession of the medications when you stop at the border.

The other more accessible method is to contact certain Canadian businesses and request medications by using email and have item(s) delivered using the US mail.

Visits were made to several pharmacies in Kingston and Gananoque, Ontario and we were informed that they would NOT accept a written prescription from an American Doctor. They would only accept a scrip written by a Canadian Doctor.

If an individual wants to obtain their medications from a location within Canada using the email method, always look for the sites that are approved by the CSIP, the Canadian Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies, which works much like our FDA, US Food & Drug Administration. The CSIP examines the sources they authorize to insure that the site is a legitimate business using drugs of the highest quality. Beware, there are those questionable businesses that can supply medications but are NOT of the best quality. An individual may go to some of the following sites and begin a relationship with that particular business, as I have been informed, an individual can contact one of these businesses and submit a valid/legal doctor prescribed medication (written prescription) and after the business is satisfied, you may request the medication and receive same thru the US Mail.

Remember, some medications are prohibited for visitors to purchase in person or obtain thru the mail but there are many that are available. An individual can go to the following sites and review the US regulations and lists of medications that are available to transport over the border or thru the mail:

  • US Department of Justice, DEA
    www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov
    Title 21 Part 1301
  • Federal Drug Administration
    www.fda.gov
    Tips for Traveling to the US with Medications. Look for the Personal Importation Policy (PIP)
  • Customs & Border Protection
    www.cbp.gov
    Click on travel, this area handles inquiries about goods to take over the border.

Sources that can be used to order medications by making the request thru email and have the item(s) mailed back to the requester. Go to:

EYEGLASSES

Several web sites have been brought to our attention where an individual can purchase lenses and frames at greatly reduced prices. Go to:

Another source that may help you is Blue Cross Blue Shield Blue 365; this web site offers many choices and deals for Fitness Programs, Healthy Eating, Personal Care (eyeglass coverage) Financial Care and Wellness along with Lifestyle which offers reduced costs for traveling expenses.

An individual does need to investigate a source and make the determination to use any of these sites. Our research should be a beginning for you, after further investigation, use these sites to reduce your medical supply costs. Do your own research and make your decision.

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Advice on Your Deferred Compensation Plan

I’m sending this email to everyone in my address book who has any connection to Monroe County- past and current employees, any department, etc., but please forward to anyone you know who may have a deferred compensation account through ICMA-RC, who administers Monroe County’s Deferred Compensation Plan.

I recently went through a very scary and very lengthy experience with ICMA-RC that I don’t wish on anyone. Over the course of a month, it involved countless emails, phone calls, and postal mail. I offer some suggestions for anyone who has an account with this company.

In trying to access my account, at first just to obtain balance information, I was first unable to log into my account online, and then was denied access by phone. The company was unable to identify me, and apparently had incorrect information about me and my account. My best guess at this point is that they had confused me with a retiree from a city in Michigan! I was unable to answer security questions correctly, because they obviously didn’t pertain to me. It took two days just to get through to them.

When I finally was able to contact a representative, I had one simple request: please send me any and all information and forms necessary to close my account, which I rolled over (tax protected) into an IRA. I had lost all faith and confidence in this company’s ability to safely and efficiently maintain my deferred compensation assets.

The entire process took several weeks, but I have successfully “liberated” my assets from ICMA-RC. I feel better now, but would like my county comrades to take steps to be secure with this company.

Because they couldn’t identify me, didn’t know old I am, didn’t know where I live, and didn’t even know where I worked/retired from, I offer these suggestions:

1. Get out. The best advice I can offer after my nightmare experience is to find some place else that will safely, efficiently, and responsibly handle your account. Your 457 funds can simply be rolled over to an IRA, in most cases without tax consequences (consult your tax person for details).

2. If you choose to stay with ICMA-RC, please verify ALL of your information, both online and by phone! Confirm all of your data, including your security questions.

— Michael Washington

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“NYS Should Skip a Constitutional Convention”

A gun sitting on the table is no danger to anyone.

Unless the wrong person grabs it. Then it’s a danger to everyone.

That’s how it is with a New York constitutional convention. In theory, it’s a fine thing. In reality, it would be a catastrophe.

Because it would fall into the wrong hands.

If New York exercises its every-20-year option to convene a constitutional convention, to rewrite the basic law of the state, that convention will be packed with the slime that comprises the state’s political class.

Continue reading

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