This Week in Government Affairs
December 17, 2014
- Update on Workers’ Comp Mandate
The Business Council sent a veto request to the governor on legislation (S.7634-B/A.9721-B) that would mandate that employers and insurers pay for the services of licensed acupuncturists under the Workers' Compensation Law. Click here to read the opposition memo. Staff contact: Lev Ginsburg
- NYC Enacts Mandated Pre-tax Transit Benefits
Last month, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation passed by the city council that requires New York City private sector employers with 20 or more employees to offer pre-tax transit benefits. Existing federal tax laws already allow businesses to offer workers $130/month as pre-tax income for transportation. This new requirement will be effective in January 2016. Several times since 2004, similar state-level legislation has been proposed, applicable to private sector employers with 50 employees or more. These bills have remained in committee. Here is more information on the new city law. Staff contact: Frank Kerbein
- Assembly Workers’ Comp Hearing
The Assembly Labor and Insurance Committees are holding a joint hearing this week to examine the potential impacts of the proposed workers’ comp fee schedule on injured workers’ access to medical service and return-to-work rates, and the impact on the no-fault system. The hearing will be held on Friday, December 19 at noon in the Legislative Office Building (Hearing Room B) in Albany.
The Business Council has been in discussions with the Workers' Compensation Board for over a year and a half regarding the proposed Medical Fee Schedule. The changes to the schedule are meant to curb costs and increase care through better medical efficacy. The current fee schedule does not reflect the current realities in the health field and has some providers and services extremely overcompensated while others are undercompensated. The Board’s proposal, essentially a realignment of its fee schedule to the benchmark of the Medicare fee schedule plus twenty percent helps achieve this goal.
From the beginning of this process, The Business Council has advocated for cost savings overall and cost-neutrality in the new fee schedule. The New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board’s actuaries this year, priced the new fee schedule at an overall savings of one percent. We will continue to advocate for a cost-neutrality during Friday’s hearing and throughout the Board’s further consideration of fee schedule alignment and will vigilantly oppose any attempts by provider groups in moving the fee schedule away from a clear and stable pricing benchmark.
Click here for more information and for instructions on testifying/submitting testimony. For more information, or to provide input to our testimony, please contact Lev Ginsburg
- Emergency Responders Leave Law Takes Effect
As of December 22, private sector employers in New York will be required to extend leave to voluntary firefighters and ambulance first responders during states of emergency declared by the Governor or the chief executive of a locality. The bill was signed by Governor Cuomo on September 23, 2014. There is no requirement that the employer provide paid leave, but the employee may use earned leave in order to be paid. When the employee returns to work after the emergency, the employer may require a notarized statement certifying the absence from the employee. The bill may be viewed here.
- Comcast/Time Warner Merger
The Public Advocate of New York City, Letitia James, held a hearing on the economic impact of the potential Comcast/Time Warner Cable merger. The Business Council submitted testimony of behalf of Time Warner Cable expressing our support of the merger and the economic benefit it will have on the New York.
Please note the following additional items of interest:
- REDC update
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo last week announced that 852 projects totaling $709.2 million in economic and community development funding has been awarded through Round IV of the Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) initiative. A list of the projects broken down by region can be found here.
- Clean Tech Showcase
The Clean Technologies & Sustainable Industries Early College High School will be showcasing students’ projects on January 8 from 10 – 11 a.m. at Hudson Valley Community College’s TECH-SMART, located in NYSERDA’s Saratoga Technology + Energy Park at 345 Hermes Road in Malta, New York. Business partners, teachers, administrators and civic leaders are welcome to attend. Registration is not required. Contact Amber Mooney at email@example.com for more information.