Monday, May 4, 2009

Big Healthcare win for workers, but Toussaint still silent

***For Immediate Release*** NY State Department of Insurance Rejects Emblem Health Claim; Releases Documents to Activists Wednesday April 29, 2009 -

On Tuesday April 28, 2009 Michelle Birnbaum, Legal Assistant to the General Counsel of NY State, notified activist Billy Wharton that the NY State Department of Insurance (DOI) would comply with his Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Wharton requested that all documents related to the proposed conversion of Emblem Health (formerly GHI & HIP) to a for-profit corporation be made public.

Emblem Health attempted to counter this by claiming that their latest for-profit conversion application should be exempt from Freedom of Information Act laws. Emblem argued that their amended application contained trade secrets and proprietary information. The DOI rejected this claim and has transmitted the revised “draft” application to Mr. Wharton along with a full list of documents relating to the attempted for-profit conversion. “The release of these documents,” said Wharton,”should increase public debate over a health care privatization which could negatively impact more than 3 million New Yorkers.” There has been strong outcry from public health advocates about the proposed conversion since the application was filed by Emblem with the DOI in December 2007. Despite this, no impact analysis of the conversion has been conducted and only two public hearings have been organized by the DOI.

Emblem claims that the conversion would provide it with the private capital needed to upgrade administration and increase their competitive advantage. Activists see the for-profit conversation as a privatization attempt which would lead to higher premiums, denial of access to care and the possible elimination of coverage for less–profitable Medicaid recipients. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg also objected to the merger and conversion of the companies by citing violations of anti-trust laws. Faced with widespread opposition from all sectors of the health care rights community, Emblem withdrew its application for conversion in early 2008. A new “draft” proposal was filed the DOI on July 24, 2008. Since Emblem did not formally file an application, the document seemed to be exempt from Freedom of Information Laws. Activists expect the “draft” application to contain Emblem’s attempt to respond to public criticisms of the proposed conversion. Emblem has yet to file another official application with the DOI.

TWU Local 100 president Roger Toussaint who sits on GHI Corporate Board of Directors yet still remains silent on the subject of the merger and, the conversion of transit workers health care benefits. Mr. Toussaint has been silent on the privatization of our health care just as the slate he endorses has been invisible on fighting for our health care to stay non profit.Take Back Our Union (TBOU) will continue to work with other activists and organizations to fight back these attacks on our health care benefits . Take Back Our Union(TBOU)looks to focus on real issues that impact the lives of Transit Workers and not politics .For more information visit

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