Returning to work after Florida, I got a dose of some of the problems I left behind.
At one studio where TAG had filed a grievance over work cuts on behalf of several employees before I left for the IA convention, the same employees (two weeks later) said to me:
"You know, everybody around here is having their work weeks reduced, not just us. Other artists are getting squeezed, and we're happy we still have jobs ... even if we're on hiatus longer.
"Pull the grievance."
So I did.
The reality right now is most people are hunkered down, rocking the boat as little as possible, even when they're ticked off. But people are still complaining to TAG, and one of the things they're complaining about is changes in the Motion Picture Industry Health Plan, specifically:
After August 1, 2009, all Active and Retired Participants who have the Medco prescription benefit will be able to fill a maintenance medication prescription twice at a retail pharmacy, but will thereafter be required to use the “Medco By Mail” mail order service for continued fills. On the third retail purchase, the pharmacy will charge the patient 100% of the cost for the medication
One caller told us: "I don't like buying prescriptions by mail, don't feel comfortable, and now I don't have a choice ..."
The problem is, health plans across the country are facing 9-12% annual cost hikes, and the Motion Picture Industry Health Plan, as big and well-funded as it is, is no exception. Which is the reason why there have been "redesigns" of MPI health coverage. ("Redesign" is the technical name for cost shifting.)
For instance, prescription drugs charges have gone up $5-$40, out-of network charges have have been hiked, and office visits to physicians are now more expensive*. None of these things have triggered joy in participants' hearts, but "up" is the direction of U.S. health costs the last fifty or so years, one of the reasons the country is now in kind of a crisis (maybe you've read about it.).
Last of all. I found out today from the Motion Picture Industry Pension Plan that if you are the surviving spouse of a Plan participant who has qualified for a monthly annuity (the "Defined Benefit" part of the Plan) you are entitled to a 50% "survivors' benefit."
But not if you are a spouse who is same sex.
For the record, I think this stinks. If you're legally married, then you're legally married. Unfortunately the Pension Plan directors, in their wisdom, have a different opinion. They follow Federal ... rather than state law.
But I still think it stinks.
* I'll be discussing these things in some detail at tomorrow's General Membership Meeting.