June 07, 2016

New York State Alliance for Retired Americans 2016 Senior Agenda

New York State Alliance for Retired Americans 2016 Senior Agenda 

Pass Paid Family Leave – 12 weeks at 2/3-wage replacement and mandated job return.  This is a senior issue, as we never want our friends or loved ones to have to make a choice of financial distress or caring for us. Successfully completed in the budget

Increase the Minimum Wage – This puts more money in the Social Security and Medicare Trust funds thereby sustaining them.  It also directly improves the economy because minimum wage earners typically spend the money.  Lastly, because of the recession and other factors, seniors are often employed in minimum wage jobs.  It is no longer only students. Successfully completed in the budget

Address Retirement Security – We need to find a way to address the retirement security pyramid.  (Social Security and Medicare as the base, defined benefit pensions as the second level and investment income)  We must find a way of increasing the defined benefit pensions even if it means having private employers buy into the NYS retirement system.  We must change the thinking of legislators regarding 401k’s as a primary tool for retirement security.  They were NEVER designed as a primary retirement vehicle, but were created as a tax deduction for corporate executives.  Even now, the people who benefit most by these investments are the financial industry as the administrative costs of 401k’s and IRA’s is often triple that of defined benefit pensions.  Finally, most people with investments, can absolutely turn a $10 investment into $1 with far more skill than we can turn that $10 into $100. 

Pass the Safe Patient Staffing Bill – A big Senior issue because of the higher number of seniors utilizing hospital care. Unsafe staffing hurts the bottom line by:  increasing rates of costly hospital-acquired infections, increasing patient falls, increasing 30-day readmissions (fines of 1%-3% of Medicare income through provisions of the Affordable Care Act), increasing medical malpractice lawsuits, increasing nurse burnout and increasing staff turnover (cost for retraining) when compared to healthcare facilities that meet safe staffing levels. Evidence and experience demonstrate that safe staffing is a cost-effective way to improve patient care and can lead to savings for our hospitals, nursing homes and our healthcare system.

Monitor the process that proposes the establishment of an Office of Community Living – Proposing the merger of the Office for the Aging and Office for Disabilities.  NYSARA opposes this without a clear-cut rationale and because of the possibility of loss of jobs.  If the outcome is not CLEARLY beneficial it should not be considered. Off the radar without the establishment of this office

Expansion of the EPIC Senior Drug program – As prescription drug prices skyrocket there is a need for more drug subsidies to seniors. 

Making the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) permanent and equalize the permanent income limits of the SCRIE to the Senior Citizen Homeowner’s Exemption. – These two bills allow seniors to remain in their homes/communities by providing tax exemptions.  The limits are set to sunset in 2016.  NYSARA issued a support memo (found under the NYSARA action items tab on our website) last year. 

Defeat the current Retiree Health Insurance issue in New York State – Knocking out the Medicare Part B reimbursement for retired state employees having the NYS health plan and increasing retired state employee health premiums is not a fair or viable option.  When people make a decision to retire they do an analysis of their retirement income, including social security, pensions and savings.  They analyze their expenses.  They then make a decision to retire, sometimes with very little margin between income and expenses.  Once in retirement, there are limited opportunities to raise their income level.  If they retire under a defined set of information there should be no bait and switch by New York State.  To change the rules in the midst of the game does not give retirees the opportunity to make an informed decision.  Add to this the fact that New York State has offered a variety of retirement incentives and encouraged people to retire at the earliest possible time so NYS saves money by replacing higher priced senior employees with lower priced junior employees.  This results in a negotiation where one set of rules is in place to encourage retirement and there is then a unilateral change in “terms and conditions” of the retirement.  That is on its face abhorrent.  This section of the budget was defeated

Support S3320/A3539 – A bill that prevents the diminution of Health benefits for Retirees unless the active members benefits are reduced. The reduction for retirees may not exceed the reduction for active members



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