This Week in Albany

Week ending July 28, 2017

Obamacare Repeal Falls Short

Over the course of several days and hours of floor debate, the United States Senate voted against three separate bills to repeal and/or replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare/ACA) this week.

On Tuesday, Republicans voted to allow debate on repealing and replacing the ACA by the smallest of margins. Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie breaking vote to allow the motion to proceed by a vote of 51-50. Later that day, the Senate took up debate on the Better Care Reconciliation Act, Republicans’ ACA replacement bill that included eliminating Medicaid expansion and other substantial Medicaid cuts. This version of the bill was subject to a 60-vote threshold because of Senate budget rules. The bill was sharply defeated by a vote of 43-57.

On Wednesday the Senate voted on the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act, a straight repeal of the ACA without a replacement. This bill needed 51 votes but failed by a vote of 45-55.

Early on Friday morning, the chamber rejected the Health Care Freedom Act, commonly referred to as “skinny repeal.” This bill, which would have repealed only parts of the ACA, was a last ditch effort to pass something to keep the repeal effort alive. As the bill was released late Thursday night, several senators stated that they would not vote for the legislation without a promise that it wouldn’t be signed into law. Instead, the goal of this bill was to start the process of a conference committee between the Senate and House of Representatives to discuss broader reforms. In the end, three Republican senators – Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and John McCain (Arizona) – joined with all Democrats and two independents to defeat the legislation by a vote of 49-51.

At this point, it is not clear whether Senate Republicans will continue to search for ways to repeal the ACA or if they will move on to other issues. For now, the ACA and the Medicaid funding that CSEA members depend on every day remain the law of the land.

 

35th Anniversary of the Triborough Amendment

On July 29, 1982, New York Governor Hugh Carey signed into law the Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law.

The Triborough Amendment provides that all terms and conditions of an expired public employee contract remain in effect until a new contract is approved. If the expired contract contains conditions for automatic step increases, such increases continue without a new contract.

This fundamental protection has come under attack in recent years from pundits who unfairly target public employees for the fiscal problems that the state and local governments have faced. In reality, by helping public employees avoid hardship when their employers refuse to negotiate in good faith while also prohibiting strikes, the Triborough Amendment has served the best interests of labor, management, and the people of New York for over thirty years.

 

Con Con Fact

In past conventions, elected officials, including state legislators, have served as delegates at the convention and have “double-dipped” by collecting two salaries and extra pension credit.