UFS ON HEALTHCARE

The Big Lie

Our nation continues to suffer from the perpetuated big lie that the US Presidential election was “stolen” and that the results are illegitimate. The facts clearly dispute this lie, yet a shockingly high percentage of Americans believe this disinformation which led to the Jan. 6th insurrection and the undermining of our democracy. Sadly, we have our own “big lie” at SAG-AFTRA. We honestly hate getting into politics, but when people lie to our members, you deserve to know the truth.

Here are the facts

Certain union leaders have seized upon and exploited the hardships of a global pandemic for political gain. They lie to you, blaming people who not only were uninvolved in decisions, but actually trying to help.

These “leaders” attempt to mislead you with shameless lies, repeatedly pushing a narrative that “heartless” people stole promised healthcare from Seniors.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

No one wants to hurt our seniors, or leave them without excellent health coverage, but it sure can pay off politically when you point the finger, demonize, and lie about your political adversaries.

Don’t fall for it.

Why did the Health Plan trustees
make the qualification changes?

That’s the pressing question. Under Federal law, SAG-AFTRA is a completely separate entity from the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan. The two organizations have separate boards with overlapping yet different missions. The SAG-AFTRA National Board appoints half the trustees, while management (studios, networks, etc.) appoint the other half. All trustees have a fiduciary duty to protect participants and the plan itself.
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As several trustees explained during Zoom sessions, the financial impact of the COVID shutdown was so damaging to the Health Plan that a major change was the only way to keep the plan from going bankrupt by 2024, while also ensuring quality health coverage for as many participants as possible.

It’s a balancing act to use dwindling reserves, remain compliant with the Affordable Care Act laws and extend excellent health coverage to as many of our members as possible. This includes all SAG-AFTRA members who work hard and hustle to meet eligibility thresholds, especially background artists and yes, our treasured Seniors.

Faced with the double blows of skyrocketing healthcare & prescription costs, and virtually no employer contributions during the COVID-19 production shutdown, SAG-AFTRA Health Plan trustees had to grapple with financial realities and make painful adjustments to remain afloat and compliant with Federal law.

These changes came at a time of great uncertainty and financial hardship for our members. Many of our volunteer leaders were personally impacted by the changes and endeavored to find a way to help as many SAG-AFTRA members as possible. And so while others sought to politicize the concerns and genuine fears of our members, Unite for Strength and USAN leaders took decisive action.

President Gabrielle Carteris worked with the late AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, MPTF,  and the Actors Fund to bring a new comprehensive and affordable healthcare options for union members over 65. Not just SAG-AFTRA seniors, but all union seniors.
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‍These new Medicare Advantage options are extremely affordable and are a crucial lifeboat for our senior members who may have lost SAG-AFTRA Health Plan coverage as a result of the changes.

When we merged SAG and AFTRA, we increased our bargaining strength and clout. UFS leaders and the AFL-CIO used the same winning strategy to help union seniors. Because of the volume of senior member participants from all unions, the rates are deeply discounted.

If you are a senior member 65 and over you can learn about these options by contacting Entertainment Health Insurance Solutions or Artists Health Insurance Resource Center.

While other "leaders" exploited and politicized the difficult changes, UFS leaders methodically got to work to protect our treasured senior members.

No fanfare. No bragging. Just results.

President Gabrielle Carteris—who, by the way, was to lose her own coverage—immediately upon learning of these devastating changes, scheduled a National Board meeting to notify the board and requested that the Health Plan schedule webinars to explain the changes and educate as many members as early as possible.

Participants were understandably confused about the timing and were deeply concerned about maintaining coverage. President Carteris knew that providing accurate and timely facts would help our members better understand the rationale for the trustees’ difficult decisions and what the Plan and the union were planning to help members negatively impacted.
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Our elected national officers successfully advocated in D.C for legislation that would provide financial assistance for those in need. The efforts bore fruit with a 100% subsidized COBRA option which right now is helping many weather the rough times. To be clear, this would not have happened without leaders like Gabrielle Carteris fighting for our members.

As we face the future of member health care in a country with out of control health care costs, Unite for Strength, USAN and Union Strong leaders from around the country will do everything in our power to keep finding solutions and avenues to keep as many people covered by the SAG-AFTRA Health plan as possible while pursuing every option (both governmental and through partnerships) for our members who don’t qualify to find quality, low-cost insurance.

‍Titles used for identification purposes only.