A bill meant to strengthen health care services for retired public workers once they enroll in the Medicare program is sitting on Gov. Kathy Hochul’s desk for her consideration.
An organization that represents a half million retired state and local government workers in New York is urging her to sign it.
The measure is meant to ensure retired people in New York who worked for municipal governments or the state do not lose Skilled Nursing Facility care once they enroll in the Medicare program upon turning age 65.
Medicare-eligible retirees under the program are allowed 20 days of coverage with a three-day prior hospital requirement. But for retirees who are enrolled in the Empire Plan, they can access up to 120 days of coverage with no prior hospitalization requirement.
The Retired Public Employees Association calls this an imbalance in health care coverage for people who need it the most as they age. The bill sitting on Hochul’s desk since Monday is meant to address it.
“Public employees work their entire careers under the promise and expectation that when they retire, their existing benefits will not diminish. It’s time for New York to uphold that promise and end inequities in skilled nursing care,” said Edward Farrell, the group’s executive director. “With the stroke of a pen, Gov. Kathy Hochul can end age discrimination by providing 225,000 Medicare-primary retirees in the NYS Health Insurance Program Empire Plan the same access to skilled nursing care that is available to Empire Plan enrollees who are still working.”
Prior attempts to make changes to the program have fallen short in recent years.