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Retired state workers call on Hochul to restore care benefits for retirees

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

The Retired Public Employees Association, representing approximately 500,000 state and local government retirees, is actively urging Governor Kathy Hochul to include funding in the Executive Budget to restore access to skilled nursing facility care for retirees enrolled in the New York State Health Insurance Program Plan.

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The request comes in light of the current disparity in SNF care coverage between Medicare primary enrollees in the Empire Plan and active enrollees under the age of 65. While active enrollees receive 120 days of full coverage for SNF care, Medicare primary enrollees, who typically lose their Empire Plan coverage upon turning 65, only get 20 days of full coverage through Medicare.

This discrepancy in SNF care coverage has been identified by the RPEA as a clear case of age discrimination. Older retirees, who are more likely to need specialized SNF care, find themselves at a significant disadvantage compared to their younger counterparts. A legislative attempt to address this issue last year resulted in the unanimous passage of a bill to restore the benefit for Medicare primary enrollees. However, the bill was vetoed by Governor Hochul due to the absence of a designated funding source. In her veto message, the Governor emphasized the need to address such costs within the context of annual budget negotiations.

The RPEA has responded to Governor Hochul’s veto message by sending a letter on November 21, requesting the inclusion of this health benefit in the Executive Budget. Edward Farrell, RPEA’s Executive Director, stated that retirees should not face reduced benefits solely because of their age. He emphasized the importance of Governor Hochul’s role in rectifying this issue and ensuring equity for all retirees by allocating necessary funds in the upcoming budget. The inclusion of this funding would mark a significant step towards addressing the healthcare needs of older retirees in New York State.

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