Promised medical coverage still sought by firefighter’s wife

IRVINGTON, NJ — According to Vicki Martignetti, the wife of an Irvington firefighter, she reached out to Irvington Municipal Council President David Lyons for help in getting the township to honor its contractual obligations to employees by paying some outstanding medical bills, to no avail. In a recent Irvington Herald article, Lyons suggested Martignetti get in touch with him for assistance in the matter.

“I called him, like he said I should do in the first article that was written about my situation, but he acted like he didn’t know who I was or what I was calling about,” Martignetti said Wednesday, Aug. 23. “He said he didn’t know anything about any medical bills and he couldn’t do anything about them. Calling him was a big waste of time.”

According to Lyons, this is not true. He said he was going to look into re-establishing the council’s Insurance Commission in order to get a handle on Irvington’s third-party insurance carrier, to make sure no other township employees have to endure what the Martignettis are experiencing.

“We’re having a Finance Committee meeting tomorrow and I will ask those questions,” said Lyons said Monday, Sept. 4. “I was not aware that there were (Irvington firefighters) whose health bills weren’t paid. I have no idea, because no one from (the Irvington Fire Department) has spoken to me.”

But, according to Martignetti,Lyons didn’t do anything for her.

“That’s not true,” said Lyons. “ I told her I needed some information from her and she acted like I was trying to get her personal information. As for the bills, I was told they had some issues, but that they had been resolved.”

Martignetti said her medical issues date back to June 15, 2015, when a pain device was surgically implanted in her back. That procedure should have been covered through her husband’s medical insurance plan through the township; however, she unknowingly opted to have it done at the same time that Irvington was changing its third-party health care providers.

“At the time of my surgery, we were insured by Magnacare; shortly after my surgery, they changed our insurance to Meridian Health,” said Martignetti in an email sent to the Irvington Herald on Thursday, Aug. 10. “The cost of my surgery was $49,325, all of which was supposed to be paid by the township of Irvington, because they are self-insured. Before my surgery, the cost and procedure was cleared and OK’d by the insurance company. We pay biweekly for our insurance benefits; therefore, the township is responsible to pay all insurance bills.”

But according to Martignetti, the township has not been living up to its health insurance responsibilities to municipal employees and their families and now she and her husband are being threatened with lawsuits.

“On Dec. 30, 2016, a summons and complaint was served to us. The paperwork was given to the township of Irvington to take care of before the courts got involved,” said Martignetti in the email. “So, at this time, we were told it would be taken care of. Then, on March 10, 2017, a judgement was entered against us in the amount of $49,325. Again, paperwork was given to the township. On April 3, 2017, a notice of application for wage execution was issued. Again, all paperwork was given to township, as per the Fire Department rules and regulations. It is clearly stated in the Fire Department contract that all medical bills for all bargaining members shall be paid within 75 days of submission. Ultimately, the township is responsible and is in breach of contract.”

Martignetti said she contacted Musa Malik, who serves as both the Irvington business administrator and personnel manager, numerous times, but he, “still has done nothing to resolve this issue.”

According to Martignetti, she also tried to contact Mayor Tony Vauss directly but never got through to him. Vauss said he he and his office staff go out of their way to be available for any resident or municipal employee and questions her difficulty in reaching him.

The mayor added he is sure the township and Malik are moving as quickly as possible to address Martignetti’s medical bill issues.

“In terms of paying bills, the township, like many other municipalities, operates on a 60-day pay window for invoices,” said Vauss on Monday, Sept. 4. “There are multiple reasons for this, including that the township has to have bills approved by the council at a meeting. And this is after the bill goes through the public contracts process, required by law.”

“If that lady needs help, I will still help, but she hasn’t given me anything to go on,” Lyons said. “I asked for some bills; that was a problem for her. I asked if she could send me some, but she didn’t want to do it. You know me and, had she given me something to work with, I would have helped.”