- Oppose any reductions in Medicare and Social Security.
- Support federal legislation which would change the measure of inflation currently used to calculate the Social Security COLA from the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) to an index called the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E), which more accurately reflects costs borne by seniors, such as medical care.
- Support measures designed to ensure the long-term financial security of the Social Security program such as removal of the threshold after which Social Security taxes are no longer withheld from an individual’s earnings. Effective 1/1/2021, the earnings threshold is $142,800.
2021 Legislative Session ends
On Friday, June 11 the legislative session came to an end. In the closing days, RPEA was successful in our opposition to two bills, namely:
- The New York Health Act, which would eliminate all existing health insurance providers (including NYSHIP), and create a new state run program. The bill contemplates a potential loss of existing benefits for retirees in New York, and would be totally unworkable for retirees who live out of state. Killing this bill was one of our legislative priorities.
- The Climate and Community Investment Act, or Carbon Tax bill, would place a regressive tax on gasoline and natural gas which would add 55 cents per gallon of gasoline and increase the cost of heating a home 26%. This would hit retirees, who are on fixed incomes, disproportionately hard. Furthermore, most of the funds would go to social equity programs, which have nothing to do with climate change. Retirees, especially upstate and on Long Island, need to use their cars and heat their homes out of necessity. Mass transit is generally not available, and reliable renewable energy supplies are still in the future.
Regarding other noteworthy issues, the legislature did not pass our bills to correct the inequality in the NYSHIP access to Skilled Nursing Facilities, authorize a voluntary pension dues deduction for RPEA membership, increase the COLA, nor authorize a rebate to certain M/C retirees who lost out on their pay raise. We will continue to pursue these issues.
overview of the 2021 Legislative Session
Earlier this year, RPEA was successful in defeating the two issues in the Governor’s proposed budget which would have adversely affected retirees who receive health insurance through the New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP). These proposals would:
- Cap the Medicare reimbursement at the current year premium
- Eliminate the reimbursement of the Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA)
RPEA’s top 3 priorities included:
- Ensuring that NYSHIP Empire Plan Medicare-primary retirees do not receive a reduction of benefits regarding access to Skilled Nursing Facilities
- Permitting retirees to make a voluntary dues deduction from their pension for RPEA membership: A7470 Benedetto (Governmental Employees), S4898 Gounardes (Civil Service and Pensions)
- Opposing the New York Health Act (Medicare for All) as written, due to its uncertainty regarding existing retiree benefits, especially for those out of state: A6058 Gottfried (Codes), S5474 Rivera (Health).
Other Bills of Interest
- Require 45-day notice before a locality may change provisions of retirees’ health care plan: A4099 Abinanti (Governmental Employees)
- Assure that all NYSHIP Medicare charges (including Part D IRMAA) are reimbursed: A3358 Abbate (Ways & Means), S4148 Gounardes (Finance)
- Provide that legislation implementing collective bargaining agreements apply only to the bargaining unit: S4900 Gounardes (Investigations and Government Operations)
- Guarantee public service retirees health care benefits available upon retirement unless there is an equivalent change for active employees: S5030 Lanza (Civil Service and Pensions)
- Increase the pension COLA by raising the base, or computation, over time: S6835 Gounardes
- Provide certain employees’ designated managerial or confidential to receive a rebate payment for salary increases that were authorized, yet ultimately withheld by New York State: A4885 Fahy (Governmental Employees), S2866 Gounardes (Finance)
- Increase the Survivor’s Benefit from $3,000 to $3,500 available through the Retirement System:
- Support the State Comptroller as Sole Trustee of the Pension Fund, and oppose legislation that would diminish that role.
Click to read RPEA’s 2021 Joint Fiscal Committee Testimony.
Issues Raised at the 2021 Budget Hearing
- Reject Medicare Cap and eliminating IRMAA
- Equal access to skilled nursing facilities
- Authorize Part D IRMAA reimbursement
- Increase Survivors Benefit
- Reimbursement of raises previously withheld from Management/Confidential employees who are now retired
RPEA Testimony at Legislative Hearings
Joint Legislative Fiscal Committees: February 2, 2021: Click Here to Watch Testimony.
Joint Legislative Fiscal Committees: February 5, 2020: Click Here to Watch Testimony.
Senate Finance Committee: Divesting the State Pension Fund from Fossil Fuels: April 30, 2019: Click Here to Read Testimony.
New York State Senate and Assembly: The New York Health Act: May 28, 2019: Click Here to Read Testimony.
Kevin Cleary Government Relations is our lobbyist. Kevin has 36 years experience in the workings of state government.
Kevin will be collaborating with colleagues Tim Sheridan, David Langdon, and Katie Hohman on our issues. All have extensive legislative experience in the Capitol. Combined, they have more than 100 years in legislative/advocacy experience.