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News Release: Public Service Retirees React To Governor Hochul’s Veto of Legislation That Would Grant Equity In Skilled Nursing Care

Bill Sponsors Senator Breslin and Assemblyman McDonald Vow to Continue Working on This Important Issue

Albany, NY – The Retired Public Employees Association (RPEA) today committed to continuing to support and work with Senator Neil Breslin and Assemblyman John McDonald, following Governor Hochul’s veto of S.8192/A.9215, to get this important item included in the next State Budget. 

“Public retirees pay the same NYSHIP premium as active employees and pre-Medicare eligible retirees, but get fewer benefits for that premium. As a result, retirees are paying significant out-of-pocket costs for care once they turn 65, contrary to the promise and expectation that their benefits would not diminish,” said RPEA Executive Director Edward Farrell. “The Governor’s veto of S.8192/A.9215 is extremely disappointing to the 225,000 retirees her decision affects; however, our advocacy for benefit equity is not over. We appreciate Senator Breslin’s and Assemblyman McDonald’s commitments to seeing this necessary change through, thereby ensuring retirees have access to the benefits and insurance coverage they have earned and deserve–for the entirety of their retirement. We hope Governor Hochul will realize that this status quo is not equitable to Medicare-eligible retirees, and include it in her Executive Budget. Together, we will work with the administration to get this reduction in benefits addressed.

Senator Neil Breslin said, “It is critically important that retired public employees have access to the same health benefits when they become Medicare eligible. This legislation which was vetoed would have ensured that retirees, when they enroll in Medicare, do not see a diminution in their skilled nursing benefit. I look forward to continuing to work with the Governor along with the Retired Public Employees Association to find an amendable solution so retirees can have continued access to this important benefit.”

Assemblyman John T. McDonald III, RPh said, “I am disappointed to see the Executive veto in regard to the Skilled Nursing Facility bill that passed with significant support in both the Senate and the Assembly. This inconsistency as it relates to health care for those 65 and older in the New York State Empire Plan has been an issue identified years ago and we have made several attempts to address the issue through the prior administration with no success. This change is not an enhancement in my opinion but a continuation of care that should not be altered because of a birthday milestone. Most disappointing is that several requests were made to understand what, if any financial impacts to the state would result, and an estimate was not received until the veto message was issued. It appears that the costs for this bill were combined with other issues and therefore we respectfully disagree on what the impact will be. I will continue to work with Senator Breslin to remedy this inconsistency.”

Under the Empire Plan, benefits are drastically reduced upon becoming eligible for Medicare at age 65 because the Empire Plan stops covering Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) care. Medicare-primary retirees are allowed only 20 days coverage with a three-day prior hospital requirement compared with active Empire Plan enrollees, who have access to 120 days 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. 

The bill would have delivered equity in benefits for Empire Plan retirees relating to the accessibility of skilled nursing facility care. Instead of addressing the individual merits of the proposal, the bill was grouped with 18 others in the same Veto Message because it “did not have a funding source.”

On December 27, RPEA sent a letter to Gov. Hochul requesting that this be included in the Executive Budget. The letter can be viewed here.



Media Contact: Chyresse Wells, APR; 518-441-3203

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