This Week in Albany

Week Ending July 14, 2017

Federal Update

Health Care

This week the U.S. Senate released a new version of their health care reform legislation. Before the July 4th holiday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had to pull the bill from consideration after it became clear that he did not have enough votes to pass it.

The new bill is still a disaster for New York State. The legislation would convert Medicaid payments to a “per cap” system, which means that each state would get a set amount per individual on Medicaid. These changes would cost New York State billions of dollars annually, which would have drastic effects on state hospitals, the Offices of Mental Health (OMH) and People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), and many health programs operated by local governments.

In addition, the proposal would phase out the Medicaid expansion program over a three year period starting in 2021. This change would result in fewer low-income New Yorkers qualifying for health insurance.

At this time, the fate of this legislation is uncertain. Two Republican Senators have come out in opposition to this legislation – Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Susan Collins (R-ME). If one more Republican Senator opposes this proposal it would be unable to pass the Senate.

We are continuing to review and analyze this legislation to determine its impact on the CSEA workforce throughout the State.

Social Security / Medicare

The Social Security Administration released their annual report on the fiscal health of Social Security and Medicare this week.

The report found that Medicare will remain fully solvent through 2028, which is one year longer than last year’s report.

In addition, the report stated that Social Security will continue to be able to make full payments to recipients until at least 2034, which is unchanged from last year. The report also stated that Social Security recipients can expect to receive a 2.2 percent increase in their monthly payment next year. This will equal about $28 a month for the average recipient.

CSEA has long advocated for policies that increase the solvency of the Social Security program, including increasing the income limit on Social Security taxes. Currently taxpayers stop paying Social Security taxes after $127,200 in income. Increasing this limit would ensure that the Social Security Trust Fund is solvent for future generations.

Tax Reform

According to a report from Comptroller DiNapoli this week, the Trump administration’s proposed tax reforms would hit New York especially hard. While the details of the tax reform proposal are still limited, President Trump did propose eliminating a deduction that would impact New Yorkers more than others.

Under the President’s tax plan, the federal deduction for state and local taxes paid would be eliminated. New Yorkers account for 13.5% of all state and local tax deductions in the United States, and could lose more than $67 billion if such deductions are eliminated as proposed. This includes local property taxes and state taxes.

As of 2014, these itemized deductions averaged about $36,000 per New Yorker, more than any other state.

Con Con Fact

Election rights, religious freedoms, and our court system are all laid out in our state constitution.