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U.R.G.E. Members

5/20/2015, NOTICE OF AGREEMENT TO ENGAGE IN FACILITATION IN WELCH V CITY OF FLINT  .Our suit challenging the Flint Emergency Manager's right to change retiree health insurance has been pending in federal court for almost three years. The Judge has notified the attorneys for the City and the Retirees they should make an effort to settle the lawsuit by using 'facilitative mediation' and the parties have agreed to do so beginning June 5, 2015. Facilitative mediation is a process in which a neutral person (the facilitator) will facilitate (promote and simplify) discussion between the City and Retiree representatives, assist in identifying issues and aid the parties in exploring solutions to promote a mutually acceptable settlement.

Posted July 8 2014 Court ruled in favor of modified injunction. Click link here Modified Injunction.

Posted Jan 4th 2014 President Mary Bland Regarding Health care suit
 "Although we won, I expect the City to appeal."
Click link here  US Court of Appeals decision

Posted Feb, 4th 2014 by Mary Bland
Dear URGE Members:
    Letters were sent by Emergency Manager Darnell Earley on January 24, 2014, concerning the United States Court of Appeals decision finding the Emergency Manager may have violated your constitutional rights when he took away health insurance coverage promised to you and replaced it with inferior coverage. Emergency Manager Earley has been expressing his opinion on the impact of this decision before the retirees have had their day in court and all of the facts have been considered by the Judge. Our attorneys advise us that these letters by Emergency Manager Earley may be improper under federal law and they will be taking the letters and other comments made by the Emergency Manager up with the Federal Judge presiding over this case very soon to ask the Judge to decide if these letters were improper.

Update Nov 10th 2013 By Mary Bland President, URGE
Recently you may have received an enrollment form from Health Plus that was misleading.  You do NOT have to  change from Blue Cross to Health Plus if you do not wish to!  If you sent in the enrollment form to Health Plus because you were mislead, you should rescind this by notifying Health Plus and the City that you had been mislead and do not wish to switch.
Anyone switching plans will lose their current prescription plan benefits (protected by injunction) and will not be able to get it b ack.  You will have to take the plan offered.  Even if URGE wins the lawsuit, you will not be able to get back into the previous prescription plan

Update October 17th 2013 From Mary Bland
Governor Rick Snyder filed a brief Sept 25th with the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in response to URGE’s lawsuit. This is in regard to EM Brown forcing retiree’s to pay more out of pocket for health care.
See more in link here

Posted July 27th 2013  ATTENTION CITY OF FLINT RETIREES:  The Court of Appeals has ruled that the City can continue charging the high co-pays and deductibles until the lawsuit is settled.  We are attempting to get this reversed.  Until you hear from URGE if you receive a bill from the City for your health insurance, you should pay it.  This includes the$61.08 the City has started charging Blue Cross subscribers monthly.   You do not have to agree to have any money deducted from your pension for health insurance.   If you have any questions, please respond to this e-mail Mary Bland or leave a message at the office phone 810-743-4631.
Mary Bland
President, URGE

Posted July 25th  Sorry not the best of news. The Court of Appeals issued an order today granting a stay of Judge Tarnow's order. This means the City can continue to implement the changed insurance until the appeal is resolved. URGE members should be instructed to pay the fees and keep track of their costs. Copy of the order just below

Update June 28th 2013 -  Federal Judge Tarnow ruled this week that the City of Flint is required to reinstate the health care benefits of all retirees whose health care benefits were changed in 2012.

Before Judge Tarnow's ruling the City of Flint sent out notices to retirees that they were required to opt for one of three insurance plans and that as part of that option the retiree would be required to pay a monthly fee. Under Judge Tarnow's ruling the City is no longer permitted to make this change.

We fully expect the City to try to overturn Judge Tarnow's ruling.

Many of you are concerned that if you do not pay the monthly costs associated with the City's proposed changes that you will lose your insurance entirely.

Under these circumstances we suggest that you send or deliver your monthly check to the City with the following letter or note:
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Posted June 26th 2013
 Federal Judge Tarnow ruled on June 25, 2013 that the City must immediately reinstate the previous health insurance to all retirees comprised of the class action we filed. If the City follows the Judges order this means that the City must reinstate the insurance you had before the change in the summer of 2012. The City may or may not immediately follow the Judge's order. Instead of following the Order the City may file an emergency appeal of this ruling to the United States Court of Appeals in Cincinnati and ask the Court of Appeals to postpone the ruling.

    We have been told by one member that he attempted to pay the recent $61 charge being assessed by the City and he was told the City is temporarily postponing receiving that payment. We do not yet know if that is because of Judge Tarnow's ruling or for some other reason.

    Anyone who is using their health insurance should continue to keep a record of any charges they believe are beyond the scope of the original health insurance coverage they had before the change by the City last year.

    We are also asking anyone who is being told that they are still covered by the insurance change the Judge struck down to report this information to URGE so our attorneys can use it to enforce the Judge's recent Order.

New in legal matters posted June 11th 2013
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May 26th 2013 Important information regarding Blue Cross Blue Shield retiree contribution.
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April 2nd 2013 "Mary Bland"- Attention Retirees: Judge Tarnow granted a temporary injunction against the City of Flint, restoring health care benefits to what was in your contract. Going forward your co-pays & deductibles will go back to what was in your contract at the time of retirement. If you find this has not happened, contact Debbie Stephens at 766-7267 ext. 2512. If you still have a problem or questions, call me at 234-0913 between Noon and 8 pm.

We have won the battle, but the war (lawsuit) will continue. Payment for previous charges will be determined in the lawsuit. Please save your receipts.
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Update Wed March 20th 2013 Mary Bland, President. To All members who recieved a letter from the city of Flint notifying them that they must sign up for Medicare Part B by March 31st or loose all health care benefits; Please sign up before the deadline ! This is Medicare's deadline so do not take the chance of loosing your health care benefits while U.R.G.E is fighting this in court. Also be sure to sign up your spouses that also qualify for Medicare on your plan. Medicare form 40b

Judge Hayman granting a permanent injunction forbidding the City of Flint from modifying the settlement agreement in the Richard Dicks Case. Regarding  EFM order 013 found here.
and Judge Hayman's Permanent Injunction.

Legal Update
U.R.G.E. currently has four (4) lawsuits pending before the City of Flint. The pension recalculation suit which was initiated in June 2006 has one remaining retiree, Sheila Burns, who is scheduled for a hearing before the FERS on November 15, 2011. The outcome of this hearing will determine if we need to move to court. The recalculation cases have cost us over $57,400 so far.
The widows health insurance lawsuit was begun in March 2010 and is slowly winding its way through the federal court system. Disclosure must be completed by November 1, 2011 with names of witnesses submitted by December 1, 2011 (The city has until January 3, 2012 to meet this deadline). Depositions must be completed by February 15, 2012 and a list of expert witnesses submitted by Mar 30, 2012. The cut-off for summary motions is April 2012, however, no trial date has yet been set. Since this case started last year, seven (7) widows have died due to the city’s heartless actions! U.R.G.E. has spent $20,904 on this case so far trying to restore the widows’ health insurance.
The Coordination of Benefits suit began in October 2010 and originally contained 47 retirees. Through the efforts of our attorney, Gregory T. Gibbs, the number of affected U.R.G.E. members has been reduced to just six (6) individuals who are owed reimbursement for out-of-pocket health care premiums. Total legal costs for this case amount to $12,653.
U.R.G.E. has been trying for years to get a complete list of U.R.G.E. retirees and their addresses from the city but has been constantly rebuffed. Consequently, we have initiated a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Genesee County, Michigan to force the city to honor our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for this information.k to add text, images, and other content
Spousal Ineligibility for Health Insurance Coverage
Spousal Ineligibility for Health Insurance Coverage
A number of retirees may have already received a letter from the City’s Department of Human Resources notifying  them that in the event of their death their surviving spouses would not be eligible for continued hospitalization coverage. U.R.G.E. has obtained a list of names from the City of those who may be affected. Of the 426 who are listed almost 90% are U.R.G.E. members. Coincidence? Our attorney, Greg Gibbs, is following-up on this but successful resolution may have to wait until the widows’ case is settled. Both issues concern promises made to retirees in the past that are not now being kept.