The 2011 Legislative Session, proved to be a difficult one in this economic climate and difficult budget decisions had to be made. Health care, education, housing, economic development and job creation are always my prime concerns. In the face of looming fiscal deficits, we strove to preserve needed programs to protect children, the elderly and the vulnerable.
I want to share with you some of our legislative efforts during this session and also to provide you with some important information.
Sesyon Lejislatif 2011 la se te yon sèl sesyon difisil nan klima ekonomik sa a. Se sa-k fe desizyon bidjè a te difisil nan a fe domèn santé, edikasyon, lojman, devlòpman ekonomik ak kreyasyon travay. Diskisyon sa yo se toujou gwo zafè konsekan. Anba gwo presyon lou, defisi fiskal yo, nou fè gwo jefò pou prezève tout pwogram nesesè ki pwoteje ti-moun, gran moun aje ak frajil.Mwen vle pataje avèk ou kèk nan efò lejislatif nou pandan sesyon sa a, epitou ofri ou anpil infòmasyon ki impotan.
With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, a provision in the law goes into effect this year that will allow Medicare beneficiaries to get a free annual wellness visit. Medicare covers all the costs for a one-time, comprehensive “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit during the first 12 months that you have Part B.
You pay nothing for the yearly “wellness” visit if the doctor or other health care provider accepts assignment. If you get additional tests or services during the same visit that aren’t covered under these preventive benefits, you may have to pay co-insurance, and the Part B deductible may apply.
Following the visit, your doctor will give you a plan or checklist with free screenings and preventive services that you need. Please visit http://www.medicare.gov/welcometomedicare/visit.html for more information.
Caregivers now have a new resource, the Ask Medicare website, launched by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The website includes information on navigating through Medicare, health care services, links to partner organizations that assist caregivers, and personal caregiver anecdotes. The website serves as a valuable one-stop resource for caregivers, helping them to better assist Medicare beneficiaries.
Fighting back when your health insurance company denies a claim just got a little easier! Thanks to health care reform, new federal regulations expand consumers’ rights to an independent, external review board. The regulations apply to new health insurance plans starting September 23rd. You can contact your plan or the New York State Insurance Department at 1-800-400-8882. You can also email the department via email@example.com or visit www.ins.state.ny.us.
Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs was pleased to join Governor Cuomo in announcing that federal disaster assistance is currently available for homeowners, renters and small businesses in Kings County as a result of damages incurred by Hurricane Irene.
Residents and business owners who sustained losses can begin applying for assistance by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362.
A.3882 – (Chap. 270 of 2011) Authorizes the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program (LTCOP) to receive and resolve complaints affecting applicants and residents of assisted living residences.
A.8366 – (Chap. 398 of 2011) Will enable safe access to public roads for all users by utilizing “complete street design principles” by transportation officials. Such features to be considered would include sidewalks, paved shoulders for bicycle use, bicycle lanes, share the road signage, lane striping, crosswalks and pedestrian signals, ramps, bus pullouts and other traffic-calming measures.
Assembly Legislation Awaiting Senate Action
A.805 – The Assembly passed legislation I sponsored that would establish the Prescription Drug Assistance Program to harness consumer purchasing power by negotiating rebates with suppliers. Those rebates would then be applied toward reducing prescription drug costs for participants, helping to make their medication more attainable.
A.6289 – (Labor Committee) Recognizing that families need both time and financial support in order to fulfill their obligations to their relatives and loved ones, I support paid family leave. Although the Federal Family & Medical Leave Act guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid leave to many workers to care for a sick relative or bond with a new child, most people can’t afford to take unpaid time from work. I believe paid family leave benefits would allow all workers to remain in the workforce and still receive some income while taking leave to care for their family.
A.7777 – The Assembly passed legislation that would place a temporary moratorium on electric, gas or steam service terminations to residential customers, until the Public Service Commission (PSC) completes a review of existing consumer protection policies. The review would evaluate the current policies’ effectiveness in addressing consumer issues and protecting consumer welfare.
The leadership of the Assembly led the way in passing legislation to extend and expand rent protections for New York City residents prior to the conclusion of this year’s Legislative Session. As a co-sponsor of this legislation, I am proud that we were able to pass the boldest improvements in nearly 30 years (A.8518). The new law encompasses many of the measures championed by the Assembly in previous years, and enacts these new protections until June 15, 2015.
Specifically, the new law raises the vacancy deregulation threshold to $2,500 per month and the high-rent threshold to $2,500 per month, while increasing the income threshold to $200,000 per year, thereby protecting more apartments and renters. Additionally, the new law amends the system of improvements to individual apartments by lowering this rate to only 1/60th of the costs of any new renovation.
According to draft regulations released by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), hydrofracking will be prohibited in New York City and Syracuse watersheds as well as primary aquifers across upstate. State forests and wildlife areas will also be shielded.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a technology that injects liquids at high pressure deep into the earth to split rock and extract natural gas from shale.
While a moratorium on hydrofracking has expired, New York State will not be issuing permits for drilling until the final rules and regulations are approved after the 60-day public comment period.
The New York State Legislature made history this past June by passing a rational tuition plan for SUNY and CUNY. The five year plan will allow students and their families to plan for incremental tuition increases and protect the neediest students. Anyone who receives the maximum TAP award will not have to pay tuition costs over the $5,000 maximum TAP award. The added revenue from tuition will go directly to support student services and will allow for more class offerings and hiring of more full time faculty. Stable revenue support is a much needed investment in public higher education and its students. The new law will also help New York’s public universities become a leading catalyst for regionally-focused economic development while maintaining affordability and improving academic quality for all students.
Specifically, SUNY and CUNY campuses can now raise tuition by $300 per year for five years, replacing an era of sudden tuition increases. The law will maintain affordability by establishing tuition credits, which will require SUNY and CUNY to apply a credit against the tuition charged to a student. The amount of the applicable tuition credit will be based on the level of a student’s tuition assistance program (TAP) award.
Students should contact their college Financial Aid or Student Accounts office with specific financial aid or billing concerns. For general information about TAP and other financial assistance programs, please visit the Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) website at www.hesc.com or call 1-888-NYSHESC (1-888-697-4372) toll free or 1-518-473-1574 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.
IRPEThe Institute for Retirees in Pursuit of Education (IRPE) at Brooklyn College – is an opportunity for members (there is a $75 fee) to participate in unlimited non-credit IRPE classes and lectures plus access to concerts, trips and more. For further information telephone (718) 951-5647 or visit their website at www.brooklyn.cuny.edu/pub/departments/irpe
Cortelyou Road Library
(1305 Cortelyou Road)
Clarendon Road (2035 Nostrand Ave.)
Flatbush Avenue (22 Linden Blvd.)
The Nonprofit HelpDeskThe Nonprofit HelpDesk helps community-based nonprofit organizations build capacity to better serve their clients. The FY- 2011 webinars are available to management, staff and board members of nonprofit organizations at no charge.
Through New York City’s “Health Bucks” program, shoppers using food stamps will receive $2 in coupons for every $5 they spend on fresh produce at participating farmers markets. The coupons are redeemable at 65 markets throughout the five boroughs, including the Cortelyou Greenmarket (Cortelyou Rd between Argyle & Rugby Rds); open Sundays 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Register now!Webinar: Fundraising Readiness
For more information please call (718) 449-5000 x 2222 or visit http://nphd.org/education/courses_2011-12/
Always available by appointment if necessary.