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News Release: Retirees Urge Gov. Hochul to End Age Discrimination and Restore Health Benefit

Letter Sent to Governor Requesting Funding in the Executive Budget

December 7, 2023 – The Retired Public Employees Association (RPEA), representing the interests of 500,000 state and local government retirees, is urging Governor Hochul to include funding in the Executive Budget to restore access to skilled nursing facility (SNF) care for retirees in the New York State Health Insurance Program Plan (NYSHIP).

Medicare primary enrollees in the Empire Plan have significantly reduced access to skilled nursing facilities compared to active enrollees under the age of 65. As a matter of fact, NYSHIP provides no coverage at all, and retirees receive only a limited benefit through Medicare – 20 days of full coverage, while active Empire Plan enrollees receive 120 days of full coverage. Medicare primary enrollees lose all Empire Plan coverage simply by turning 65. This is a clear example of age discrimination since older retirees are more likely to require this kind of skilled and individualized care.

Last year a legislative remedy was sought, and the legislature unanimously passed a bill to restore this benefit for Medicare primary enrollees in the Empire Plan. However, that bill was vetoed because it “did not include a funding source”. In her veto message Governor Hochul stated, “These costs must be addressed in the context of the annual budget negotiations where they can be analyzed with other state spending”. Now is the time to address the bill on its merits, and to remedy that objection by including funding authorization in the Executive Budget. RPEA urges Governor Hochul to support retirees by taking the first step and putting this important health benefit on the table for negotiation.

RPEA Executive Director Edward Farrell stated, “Retirees should not have a diminished benefit based solely upon their age. Governor Hochul has the opportunity to right this wrong and ensure fairness for all retirees by including funding in her Executive Budget. The Governor must make this important item part of the budget process, as she recommended in her veto message last year.”

On November 21, RPEA sent a letter to Gov. Hochul requesting that this be included in the Executive Budget. The letter can be viewed here.


For Immediate Release:  Thursday, December 7, 2023

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

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