Bloomberg’s Union Deal Only Goes So Far

The new deal to temporarily prevent wholesale layoffs at the city municipal unions was applauded by the Daily News editorial board today:

"[L]abor chiefs agreed to require hundreds of thousands of workers and retirees to pony up co-pays when they get some medical care. For municipal workers, this is a revolutionary concept. For everyone in the private sector, it's standard operating procedure."

But is the deal the city reached that revolutionary?

“It’s a good start,” said Carol Kellermann, president of the Citizen Budget Commission, an independent watchdog group.

According to the new deal, union members will have to pay a $50 co-pay for emergency room visits, and a $100 co-pay to be admitted to am “in-patient facility"–mainly hospitals.

That's it–there is no co-pay for regular visits to the doctor.

“[I]t is really asking for a contribution from the limited number of people who [are] ill enough to go an the hospital instead of expecting everyone to make a premium contribution while they are well,” Kellerman wrote in an email to me this morning.

“It’s easier for the union to get its members to accept co pays for services they may think they will never use (like the ER) than for them to charge premiums to everyone, even though that is more equitable.”

The issue of union members contributing more of their health care costs is, in part, what drove the Transport Workers Union to walk off the job in 2005. Bloomberg’s Union Deal Only Goes So Far