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Federal Issues

  • 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 1/1/2020, the earnings threshold is $137,700.

State Issues

2020 Legislative Session 

The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent shutdown created a most difficult situation. The legislature adopted rules authorizing “remote voting,” which was used to pass the budget. The legislature then went into recess. The legislature may or may not return to session this year.

Budget Issues
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)

Legislative Priorities
Regarding our top 3 priorities, RPEA was successful that the Legislature did not act on two of the bills we opposed. These bills would:

  • Reduce the fiduciary responsibility of the State Comptroller as the Sole Trustee of Pension Fund (six different bills).
  • Eliminate all health insurance providers in the state and force all residents into a new state-run single payer (Medicare for All) health plan. The bill does not adequately address the needs of public sector retirees: S. 3577,Rivera – A. 5248 Gottfried.

The third proposal, which was introduced at the request of RPEA would:
Ensure that NYSHIP Empire Plan Medicare-primary retirees do not receive a reduction of benefits regarding access to Skilled Nursing Facilities: S.5759-A, Breslin – A.7722-A, McDonald. We were hopeful that this proposal would be included in the budget, but the coronavirus eliminated the normal deliberative budget process.

Other Proposals
Since the Legislature went into recess following adoption of the budget, there has been no subsequent action on these bills:

  • Permit retirees to allow voluntary dues deduction from pension for RPEA membership: S.5767-A, Gounardes – A.4730-A, DenDekker
  • Require 45-day notice before a locality may change provisions of retirees’ health care plan: S.5930, Breslin– A.7870, Abinanti
  • Assure that all NYSHIP Medicare charges (including Part D IRMAA) are reimbursed: S.2050, Gounardes– A.3617, Abbate
  • Guarantee NYSHIP contribution percentages for State retirees as of the date of retirement (retroactive): S.2051, Gounardes – A.3634, Abbate
  • Guarantee public service retirees health care benefits available upon retirement unless there is an equivalent change for active employees: S.3854, Lanza – A.4203, Weprin
  • Increase pension COLA base from $18,000 to $21,000: A.7273, Abbate
  • 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: 5.4079, Gounardes – A.2462, Fahy
  • Increase the Survivor’s Benefit from $3,000 to $3,500 available through the Retirement System: A.7928, Ortiz

Issues Raised at the 2020 Budget Hearing

  • NYSHIP
    • 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

Click to read RPEA’s 2020 Budget Hearing Testimony.

RPEA Testimony at Legislative Hearings

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.

Legislative Representative

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.

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