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RPEA Testifies Before The Joint Legislative Fiscal Committees

On February 2, 2021 – RPEA Executive Director Edward C. Farrell testified before the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committees and addressed proposals which would reduce the Medicare reimbursement for retirees who are enrolled in the New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP). You can read RPEA’s full testimony by clicking here

Click the video below to watch Executive Director Ed Farrell’s testimony:

Spectrum News and State of Politics reporter Nick Reisman reported on the issues Farrell discussed.
Click here to read the news coverage.


For Immediate Release: Tuesday, February 2, 2021

The Retired Public Employees Association Urges Legislators to Protect the Health Benefits of Retirees

The Retired Public Employees Association (RPEA), representing the interests of nearly 500,000 state and local government retirees in the State Retirement System, testified today against items in the proposed state budget which would reduce health insurance benefits. At a time when retirees are recognized as a susceptible population and are considered high-risk when it comes to COVID-19, it’s more important than ever before to protect the earned health benefits of public service retirees.

Testifying before the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committees, RPEA Executive Director Edward C. Farrell addressed proposals which would reduce the Medicare reimbursement for retirees who are enrolled in the New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP).

“Retirees spent their whole career in service to the residents of New York State, and their days of earning a salary are over. These men and women deserve to live in retirement knowing they can utilize the benefits earned during their employment,” said Farrell. “The cuts proposed in the executive budget will impact the well-being of real people, and we urge the legislature to take action to protect the healthcare benefits retirees deserve.”

Eligible NYSHIP retirees pay the same premium contribution as active state employees. However, the state has realized significant cost savings for retiree health insurance by requiring that all retirees participating in NYSHIP also enroll in Medicare upon turning 65. As a requirement for Medicare enrollment, such retirees must pay Part B standard premiums and must also pay the full NYSHIP premium percentage contribution to the state for their health insurance coverage. Because these actions save the state money, the legislature provided for reimbursement of all Medicare Part B premiums. The proposed budget would reduce that reimbursement.

One item not included in the budget would create parity between retirees and active employees in the Empire Plan access to Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF). Both pay identical premiums, yet retiree benefits are not existent.

Empire Plan enrollees under 65 have coverage for 120 days of SNF care with no hospital stay required. However, upon eligibility for Medicare, the Empire Plan provides NO SNF coverage to retirees. So at age 65, SNF benefits available to retirees are reduced to those provided under Medicare – only 20 days of coverage and that coverage requires a 3-day hospital stay.

Farrell concluded, “Older enrollees, including retirees are more likely to need such care. This policy encourages age discrimination and RPEA is requesting that the legislature amend the law immediately to rectify it.”

In addition to these issues, RPEA has requested a systematic change to the current COVID-19 vaccine appointment process. And while not budget-related, RPEA believes the importance of getting New Yorkers vaccinated in the safest and the most efficient and effective way, should be a priority.

RPEA sent a letter to Governor Cuomo, DOH Commissioner Zucker and Legislative Leaders on January 22 outlining recommended changes to the system which would help eliminate the uncertainty, frustration, and guesswork that currently exists. Click here to read the letter.

The Retired Public Employees Association is a powerful advocate for current and future public service retirees. Founded in 1969, RPEA is a not-for-profit entity and represents the interests of nearly 500,000 retirees and their beneficiaries from New York state and local governments, school districts, and public authorities. RPEA has 14 local chapters, most of which are in New York State. Learn more at:

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