Updates on State Budget; Other Legislation, Drug Costs, Charitable Giving

**A rally was held to push again for paid family leave outside the legislative chambers at the Capitol on Thursday.   Assembly Democrats say they are not open to exempting small businesses from paid family leave but they may  consider tax credits for small businesses which would be burdened by the plan.  The Senate wants to pass paid family leave in a way that doesn’t hurt small businesses.

**Both the Senate and the Assembly have rejected provisions in the Governor’s budget to eliminate “prescriber prevails” in the Medicaid program which allows doctors to have the final say in prescriptions.  Both houses also rejected the Governor’s plan to eliminate “spousal refusal” which allows a community spouse to keep more money when the other spouse is on Medicaid.

**Stocks of pharmaceutical companies suffered major losses earlier in the week after Valiant said its strategy of buying older drugs and jacking up the prices to exorbitant levels was no longer viable.  It’s amazing how tone deaf greed can be that these companies don’t understand that adverse reactions from consumers and politicians can impact their stock price.  Valeant’s stock has lost over 75% of its value in the last six months.

**The State Employees Federated Appeal which allows state workers to make payroll deductions to charities released its annual report this week.  The drop in the state work force plus the retirements of many higher income workers has led to a dramatic decline in giving.  Contributions fell by $422,737 statewide from 2014 to 2015 with a total of $5,236,798.  Contributions in the Capital District fell $150,460 to a total of $1,355,178. In 2007, contributions reached a high of $9,785,318.  There has been a drop of over 40% since then.  The statewide SEFA Committee met on Thursday and discussed ways to reach out to new and younger workers and to work better at marketing the campaign.  Committee members also want more support from the Governor and  state agency leaders in promoting SEFA.

**Bills introduced in other states to allow assisted suicide are being withdrawn or defeated.  A bill in Minnesota was withdrawn this week after a public hearing
Bills in Iowa, Colorado, Hawaii, Utah, Arizona, Maryland and Wisconsin are now considered dead for this year.  Bills in Alaska, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas and Tennessee also appeared to be heading nowhere.  Here in New York, supporters have not had the bill scheduled for the Assembly Health committee, indicating there probably are not enough votes to pass it there.  Some Democrats on the committee are known to oppose the bill.


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I have been a senior advocate for most of my career. I was Executive Director of the New York StateWide Senior Action Council and the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans. In 2007-2010 I was the Director of the New York State Office for the Aging

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