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News Release: Executive Director Edward Farrell Testifies Before the Joint Fiscal Committees on Workforce Development

Albany, NY – The Retired Public Employees Association (RPEA), which promotes and protects the interests of the nearly 500,000 retired state and local municipal employees in the State Retirement System, testified on March 1 before the Joint Fiscal Committees on Workforce Development. 

Click here to read RPEA’s full testimony.

RPEA Executive Director Edward Farrell urged the legislature to consider provisions that support state and local government retirees, including:

  • Providing Equity in Skilled Nursing Facilities Care: Ensure that NYSHIP Empire Plan Medicare-primary retirees receive benefits equal to those non-Medicare-primary retirees receive for care in skilled nursing facilities (SNF). Under the Empire Plan, benefits are drastically reduced upon becoming eligible for Medicare at age 65. Medicare-primary retirees receive zero coverage and are allowed only 20 days of SNF coverage with a three-day prior hospital stay Medicare requirement compared with active Empire Plan enrollees, who have access to 120 days of coverage with no prior hospitalization requirement–a clear inequity of care. There is no explanation for this disparity in coverage, and the intent from the start decades ago was for NYSHIP to provide full coverage for retirees. A timeline and fact sheet on this issue is available for download here.
  • Increasing the Pension Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA): RPEA’s bill contains a “catch up” provision and increases the pension earnings threshold from $18,000 to $21,000. The major beneficiaries of this bill would be older retirees with smaller pensions, due to the fact that salaries were much lower 20-30 years ago. It is important to note that 24% of retirees receive a pension under $10,000, and 43% receive a pension under $20,000. 

“Public service employees dedicate their lives to keeping our communities educated, clean, governed, healthy, and safe, and all with the expectation and promise that when they retire their existing benefits will be protected,” said RPEA Executive Director Edward Farrell. “RPEA firmly believes that these benefits should not be diminished for those who have already retired, and urges the State Legislature consider these proposals which will ensure retirees can lead a quality retirement in New York State.

Nearly 80% of public employer retirees remain New York State residents, driving $12 billion into the state’s economy, and according to the State Comptroller, public sector retirees’ annual spending is responsible for the creation of roughly 75,000 jobs.

Click the video below to watch RPEA’s testimony and Q&A with legislators.

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