In This Edition
- Plan 1 COLA Proposals to Legislature
- WA State Legislative Bill Summary
- CA Supreme Court to Consider Allowing Cuts Public Pensions
- White House Relaxes Penalties Against Nursing Homes
Plan 1 COLA Proposals to Legislature
The State Legislature convened on January 8th for the second half of its 65th session. On the docket already this year are five Plan 1 COLA bills, three in the House and two in the Senate. All five bills propose a one-time 3% COLA for Plan 1 members, the difference being whether it is capped or not.
At this point, RPEC is in support of all the bills. Our position is simply that Plan 1 members need some form of remedy to offset ever-increasing costs of food, utilities, housing and health care.
Next week, we will be sending an Action Alert to members asking them to contact their legislators and remind them of the need for a Cost of Living increase to their Plan 1 pension, which has gone without any inflationary increase since 2011.
The bills are as follows:
HB 2323/SB 6290 – A one-time 3% PERS/TRS Plan 1 COLA with no cap
HB 2511 – A one-time 3% PERS/TRS Plan 1 COLA capped at $750/yr. or $62.50/mo.
HB 2452/SB 6305 – A one-time 3% PERS/TRS Plan 1 COLA capped at $750/yr. or $62.50/mo., and it also includes a PEBB Medicare Subsidy increase.
WA State Legislative Bill Summary
Here is a link to the list of bills currently of focus to RPEC: http://www.rpecwa.org/bill-summary-1-12-2018/
California Supreme Court to Consider Allowing Cuts to Public Pensions
From Bloomberg – California Governor Jerry Brown said legal rulings may clear the way for making cuts to public pension benefits, which would go against long-standing assumptions and potentially provide financial relief to the state and its local governments.
Brown said he has a “hunch” the courts would “modify” the so-called California rule, which holds that benefits promised to public employees can’t be rolled back. The state’s Supreme Court is set to hear a case in which lower courts ruled that reductions to pensions are permissible if the payments remain “reasonable” for workers.
“There is more flexibility than there is currently assumed by those who discuss the California rule,” Brown said during a briefing on the budget in Sacramento. He said that in the next recession, the governor “will have the option of considering pension cutbacks for the first time.”
White House Relaxes Penalties Against Nursing Homes
From California Healthline – The Trump administration — reversing guidelines put in place under President Barack Obama — is scaling back the use of fines against nursing homes that harm residents or place them in grave risk of injury.
The shift in the Medicare program’s penalty protocols was requested by the nursing home industry. The American Health Care Association, the industry’s main trade group, has complained that under Obama, federal inspectors focused excessively on catching wrongdoing rather than helping nursing homes improve.
“It is critical that we have relief,” Mark Parkinson, the group’s president, wrote in a letter to then-President-elect Donald Trump in December 2016.
Since 2013, nearly 6,500 nursing homes — 4 of every 10 — have been cited at least once for a serious violation, federal records show. Medicare has fined two-thirds of those homes. Common citations include failing to protect residents from avoidable accidents, neglect, mistreatment and bedsores.
The new guidelines discourage regulators from levying fines in some situations, even when they have resulted in a resident’s death. The guidelines will also probably result in lower fines for many facilities.