Lawmakers in New York on Wednesday finalized a bill that is meant to bolster health care for retired public employees in the state. 

The measure, backed by organizations that advocate for retired government workers, would require retired workers to continue to receive the same level of health care benefits after they switch to the Medicare program. 

The bill is meant to address the health care benefits for retired workers when they switch to the federal program for older Americans and specifically the skilled nursing benefit. That benefit is not as generous under the Medicare program.

A skilled nursing benefit for active employees and pre-Medicare retired patients is 120 days without a requirement for prior hospitalization. For retirees eligible for the Medicare program, the benefit is 20 days with a 3-day prior hospitalization requirement. 

The measure now heading to Gov. Kathy Hochul's desk for her approval will put the health care benefit in line with the public employee benefit for retired workers.

"People who choose a career in public service dedicate their lives to keeping our communities healthy, educated, clean, and safe – all with the expectation that their benefits will not be diminished in retirement," said Edward Farrell, the executive director of the Retired Public Employees Association "With the governor’s signature, age discrimination will end and the 225,000 Medicare-primary retirees in the New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP) Empire Plan will receive access to the same skilled nursing care that is available to other Empire Plan enrollees."