Status Report 1/28/10
Now that John Garamendi has taken a seat in the house, he has backed off on his commitment to support us, see the Independent article for 1/21/10 under news articles on the web site. Since UCŐs general council has refused to deal with us, we are left with legal action as a last resort.
Several things need to be done to move down the legal road. The response to the question of whether to continue with legal action, sent out with the last status report, was overwhelmingly in favor of continuing.
The UCLRG Legal Defense Fund needs further legal underpinning to protect us. We are looking into obtaining further legal help to set us up as a non-profit. I talked to a San Francisco legal firm that specializes in setting up non-profits on the 26th. They believe we can easily qualify as a 501(c)(4) organization but we may have trouble qualifying as a public charity 501(c)(3) organization. The former makes donations to us tax exempt, the latter does the same plus qualifies donations as charitable deductions, and so it would be preferable. The firm offers a fixed price fee of $3.225, which includes the $950 filing fee. Developing bylaws will be part of the effort and, being an internet association, we will have some unusual provisions compared to a normal organization. I will be writing up some of them and we will poll the membership to see which fly and which flop.
We need to raise more funds to continue. Our lawyers estimate it will cost between $75,000 and $150,000 to get ready to go to trial. Spending the money to strengthen the legal defense fund will leave us with less than even the minimum $75,000 estimate. For those who offered additional funds and were told, Ňwait until we are sure we will need themÓ, it is time to send them in. For those of you who have not yet contributed, I encourage you to do so with the usual proviso that you should not contribute money you canŐt afford to lose. The likelihood of our losing for lack of funds is probably greater than losing because of a poor case. I will change the thermometer on the web page to read in percent, with 100% corresponding to $150,000 dollars so everyone can follow our progress.
We need to negotiate a second contract with our lawyers. We donŐt believe we should hand them all our money and stand back and wait. For the first step we will ask for a contract and a cost estimate to prepare a suit. While the effort involved canŐt be precisely pinpointed, control of the effort remains with our lawyers and us and should be easier to estimate than the expected succeeding activities. At that point, we will need to reevaluate our finances and likelihood of success and decide whether to continue.
Medicare Open Enrollment:
Most of you have probably seen the Scan add for Medicare coverage on TV. The lead in states that every Medicare recipient is allowed to change their Medicare provider once before March 30. I am not aware of such a provision, possibly because I am not covered by Medicare. If anyone knows about such an opportunity, please send me the details.
Kaiser Under Medicare:
There are a lot of retirees upset and confused about the HRA rules, established by Hewitt and Bank of America, for getting reimbursement from their HRA accounts. Apparently the Bank of America card provided is not a debit card as promised. The card can not be used to make automatic payments for monthly costs of coverage or Medicare Part B. The documentation from both Hewitt and Bank of America is at best inaccurate and misleading and more likely downright lies. To assure your coverage, you should pay the bills you receive and worry about reimbursement later. If your coverage lapses from lack of payment it is unlikely that Hewitt, Bank of America or LLNS will help you get it back. The other Retiree organization, www.llnlretirees.org, have been trying to help people with these type of problems so they may be able to tell you more than I can.