The Trustees of the SAG-AFTRA Well being Plan vow to vigorously deny the category motion lawsuit towards Ageism – Deadline
The Board of Trustees of the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan announced today that it will “vigorously contest” a class action lawsuit filed on Tuesday, calling it “completely unfounded”. In view of the staggering deficits, the August plan announced that it would raise premiums and income thresholds for January 1 coverage to stay afloat, excluding thousands of current recipients from coverage.
The lawsuit, which was filed in the US District Court in Los Angeles, alleges the upcoming benefit changes “will be illegally discriminated on grounds of age and violate the Age Discrimination and Employment Act of 1967” and a breach of trust duty under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. The ten named plaintiffs in the lawsuit include former SAG president Ed Asner and David Jolliffe, currently vice president of the Los Angeles Local union – both are leaders of the dissident faction of the union that led the lawsuit. SAG and AFTRA merged in 2012 and their health plans merged in 2017.
According to a class action lawsuit, the SAG-AFTRA health plan provides that “discrimination is illegal on the basis of age”
“The lawsuit against the board of trustees of the SAG-AFTRA health plan (and the previous SAG health plan) is completely unfounded,” the trustees said in a statement today. “The Board of Trustees has always taken its responsibility very seriously and consulted with respected and experienced experts in connection with the merger of the health plan and the ongoing design of the plan. The complaint misrepresents the facts and omits essential information about the diligence that preceded the merger decision and the circumstances that led to the recent performance changes. We will vigorously challenge this lawsuit and demonstrate that our actions were fully consistent with our legal responsibilities. “
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The plan states: “Without restructuring health plans, we project a deficit of $ 141 million this year and a deficit of $ 83 million in 2021. The health plan is expected to run out of reserves by 2024. ”The trustees have forecast that around 3,500 artists and 2,800 of their dependents will lose benefits as part of the restructuring, even though the vast majority of them are eligible for Medicare or Obamacare coverage.
The lawsuit alleges that the trustees could have taken less “draconian” measures to save the plan. “On August 12, 2020, amid a pandemic, work stoppage and economic crisis,” the lawsuit reads, “participants in the SAG-AFTRA health plan were shocked when the trustees of the SAG-AFTRA health plan suddenly made draconian changes to the health plan . ” Structure of SAG-AFTRA Health Benefits. The trustees blame the Covid-19 pandemic for the sudden urgent need to enforce the benefit cuts and exclude thousands of participants from SAG-AFTRA health insurance. This guilt ignores the facts and readily available measures that could have addressed such a one-off event without dramatically ending SAG-AFTRA health insurance for mostly elderly participants, including many cast members who gave up their right to scraps of film prior to 1960 for the SAG pension to begin and health plans for all members. “
In a message to its members about the lawsuit, SAG-AFTRA said today: “There is no easy way to say this: you are being misled. Since the changes to the SAG-AFTRA health plan were announced in August, there has been a targeted public and social media campaign spreading misinformation and fear. We understand that change, myths, and rumors have created anger and frustration. We also know that the truth is the best balm in uncertain times. Here are five facts you need to know about changes to the SAG-AFTRA health plan:
1. “Without significant changes, the reserves of the SAG-AFTRA health plan for ALL participants would have disappeared by 2024. Ask yourself the following: Why would the health plan want to reduce member coverage when there was another option?
2. “Senior performers don’t lose their health insurance. You will continue to have Medicare as your primary insurance policy as you do today. In addition, they receive a grant under the new account for the reimbursement of health services, which they can use for additional coverage of their choice through Via Benefits. For many senior performers, this means comparable coverage at a comparable price.
3. “Spouses are not“ thrown ”from the plan. If you meet the eligibility requirements and your spouse does NOT have access to their own employer-sponsored health plan, your spouse may still be covered by the SAG-AFTRA health plan. If they are covered by their own employer-sponsored health plan, they are also entitled to secondary insurance under the SAG-AFTRA health plan.
4. “There is a new low-cost COBRA safety net specially designed to make the transition easier for many participants. Those who qualify are entitled to maintain their SAG-AFTRA health insurance coverage with significantly reduced COBRA premiums – at just 20% of the regular COBRA premium – for 12 to 18 months after their current eligibility expires. Please visit sagaftraplans.org/health for details.
5. “The idea that premium increases or higher employer contributions alone could have repaired the health plan is simply wrong. The root of the problem is the exorbitant cost of health care – a problem made worse by the production disruption in our industry due to the pandemic crisis. Health care costs remain a key issue for Americans, and the SAG-AFTRA health plan is not immune to this and other economic forces. Structural changes were required to put the plan on a firm footing now and in the future. “
The union continued, “We understand that change is not easy, but it is crucial that you have the facts. As we have learned in our country and on social media, not all claims are factual. Always check the credibility of your sources. If you have any questions about changes to the SAG-AFTRA health plan, please visit the FAQ section at sagaftraplans.org/health for verified, accurate information and updates. “