Open Enrollment Period for Affordable Care Act and Medicare
The open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) starts November 15, 2014 and runs through February 15, 2015. People without health insurance coverage can sign up on New York's online health insurance exchange marketplace, select the insurance plan that best suits their needs, and find out if they qualify for subsidies or tax credits, or for free health coverage under Medicaid or Child Health Plus. Everyone should have health insurance coverage regardless of their economic circumstances or how healthy they think they are.
In 2015, tax penalties begin to kick in for people who are uninsured. If you are uninsured and living in New York State, please visit https://nystateofhealth.ny.gov/ to learn what programs and subsidies are available to you. If you want the assistance of a certified "navigator", please contact my District Office at 212-807-7900 during business hours and a member of my staff will help you set up an appointment.
The open enrollment period for Medicare - the period when people on Medicare can make changes to their coverage - began in October and ends on December 7. During this period, Medicare recipients can choose a new Medicare Advantage (Medicare managed care) plan, change from traditional Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan (or vice versa), switch to a new Part D prescription drug plan, shop around for a Medigap plan, or make other changes to their Medicare coverage.
For help choosing Medicare coverage, please consult with the New York State Health Insurance Information, Counseling and Assistance Program by calling 311 or 212-341-3978 during business hours.
West Side Tenants Conference
On Saturday, November 1, I spoke at the West Side Tenants Conference organized by Housing Conservation Coordinators (HCC) on a panel about the fight to protect and strengthen the rent laws and the illegal hotel law in the 2015 Albany legislative session. The panel was moderated by Bennett Baumer of HCC and the other speakers were State Senator Brad Hoylman and Delsenia Glover of Tenants and Neighbors.
At the Conference, my Community Office's Director of Constituent Services, Maria Guzman, participated in a workshop on "NYCHA Tenants Know Your Rights (Public Housing)." She and Leah Goodridge of Urban Justice Center discussed the court settlement, Alameda v. Rhea, which requires NYCHA to change its downsizing policies. It sets important limits and procedures for downsizing. The settlement also requires NYCHA to respond in writing to "Adding a Family Member to Household" inquiries. You can find out more information about this settlement and related issues by contacting my District Office at 212-807-7900.
222-224 West 21st Street Update
Tenants at 222-224 West 21st Street in Chelsea continue to be plagued by their irresponsible and unethical landlord, Slate Properties. The building has lacked gas for months, there have been several instances of bed bugs, and some tenants experience irregular heat while others report that, when the heat does come on, it generates chemical smells so strong that they are unable to sleep. My office is working to expedite the final steps required from the Department of Buildings to restore gas service, which is necessary because Slate Properties isn't helping.
Senator Brad Hoylman, Councilmember Corey Johnson and I wrote to the Tenant Protection Unit (TPU) of the State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, because the landlord claims the apartments were removed from Rent Stabilization years ago. The tenants were never notified of any such action. The TPU claims that the tenants' failure to appeal the notification that they never received in the first place leaves them out in the cold. This is unacceptable. Together with Housing Conservation Coordinators, we are investigating our options to continue pressing the tenants' case.
Update on Saint Joseph's Immigrant Home
For nearly a year, my office has been working to prevent the displacement of 27 women living at Saint Joseph's Immigrant Home at 425 West 44th Street. I am continuing to work with Housing Conservation Coordinators and the Goddard Riverside SRO Law Project to organize and represent the tenants in Housing Court, and the cases are presently adjourned while we seek a negotiated outcome.
Along with my colleagues Senator Brad Hoylman and Council Member Corey Johnson, I've engaged in a parallel conversation with Catholic Charities regarding the missions of both itself and Saint Joseph's Home. I have made clear that I consider the treatment of the tenants to be contrary to those missions, and I was gratified to learn that the leadership of Catholic Charities agreed that the process left much to be desired.
We are all working to negotiate an agreement that will preserve and provide affordable housing for all the tenants without sacrificing the fiscal health of Saint Joseph's Immigrant Home. I am optimistic that we will get a positive outcome that will let all of the tenants remain in secure and affordable housing within our community.
November is CUNY Month
November is "CUNY Month." My Assembly District includes the CUNY Graduate Center, the CUNY School of Journalism and the CUNY Honors College, and my parents got their education thanks to City College and Hunter College. I have always been a strong supporter of CUNY and am consistently impressed by the quality of its outstanding academic programs and its talented graduates.
CUNY enrollment is at an all-time high and its students and scholars are winning prestigious awards and fellowships. CUNY Month offers a great opportunity to learn more about CUNY's outstanding public institutions of higher education. CUNY Month activities include academic advising and counseling services and financial aid workshops. Almost four out of five CUNY college students graduate debt-free, making CUNY one of the best values in higher education anywhere.
To learn more about CUNY Month programs, please see WWW.CUNY.EDUC/CUNYMONTH.
State Society on Aging Conference
In October, I spoke at the State Society on Aging of New York's annual conference at Fordham University's Lincoln Center campus. It included people and groups from health care, government, academia, the community, and activists.
The panel I was on discussed Medicaid managed care, managed long term care and the importance of keeping seniors in their homes and communities, and other health policy issues. The panel included State Senator David Valesky, Chair of the Committee on the Aging; Michelle Davis, Health Administrator for the US Department of Health and Human Services for Region II (NY, NJ, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands); Greg Olsen of the NYS Office for the Aging; Donna Corrado, Commissioner for the NYC Department for the Aging, and Kevin McGuire, Commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Social Services.
I talked about my work in the Legislature to protect access to health care - especially long term care. I also described the single payer "New York Health" bill that I'm sponsoring in the Assembly, which would address many health care issues confronting seniors.
Museum of Natural History: Free Saturdays for Kids in NYCHA
Thanks to funding provided by the New York City Council, the Museum of Natural History is offering free admission on Saturdays to children ages 4 to 10 whose families live in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments, through May 2015.
The Museum of Natural History, on Central Park West at W. 79th Street is one of New York City's world-famous cultural attractions, and truly a magical place for adults and kids of all ages. The Museum is particularly famous for its displays of dinosaurs, the giant whale, the Hall of North American Mammals (whose life-size dioramas came to life in the movie, "Night at the Museum"), the IMAX Theater film The Great White Shark, the Rose Center for Earth and Space, and the Hayden Planetarium.
Museum admission is usually $22 for adults and $12.50 for kids, so the free admission makes this a great opportunity for kids living in public housing. For more information, please go to www.amnh.org or call 212-769-5100.
New York, NY 10001
Albany, NY 12248