RBT CPAs Awarded on the Forbes America’s Best Tax Firms 2021 List

Flying Geese 2021

RBT CPAs has been awarded a spot on the Forbes list of America’s Best Tax Firms 2021. This prestigious award is presented by Forbes and Statista Inc., the world-leading statistics portal and industry ranking provider. The awards list was announced on December 1st, 2020, and can currently be viewed on the Forbes website or download the PDF.

Forbes and Statista created the award list through an independent survey of tax and accounting professionals who provided thousands of recommendations. Respondents were recruited through an online survey as well as through a carefully profiled online-access panel. Recommendations from professionals working at tax and accounting firms as well as professionals working with tax and accounting firms were considered in equal measure.

“Based on the results of the study, RBT CPAs is ecstatic to be recognized on the Forbes list of America’s Best Tax and Firms 2021,” said Managing Partner, Mike Turturro.

As community-minded, trusted business advisors and advocates, RBT’s high-value accounting, auditing, consulting, and tax services have previously earned the firm recognition as the ‘Best in the Hudson Valley’ and one of the firms to watch. RBT team members attribute the recent Forbes distinction to its strategic, innovative, and caring environment that is dedicated to making the client’s experiences remarkable.

The dedicated professional RBT staff is committed to providing outstanding service and prompt communication with clients as New York faces unprecedented economic challenges in the New Year. To learn more about the diverse offerings and award-winning service you can expect from RBT, please browse our site or contact us.

Unplugged: Overcoming the Digital Divide

Unplugged Overcoming the Digital Divide

As our homes have transformed into our offices, daycare centers, and classrooms, it can feel difficult to disconnect from the all-pervasive technology that creeps into every aspect of life. But while most of us are on our devices 24/7 to get work done quickly and efficiently, it’s easy to take for granted that thirty years after the debut of the World Wide Web, some families are still unplugged, putting some kids at a direct disadvantage when it’s time to log on for a Zoom lesson or turn in a research paper.

According to the most recent federal data, about 14% of households with school-age children do not have internet access.

Most of those are in households that make less than $50,000 a year, and many live in rural areas.

Among those who do have access, not all have a broadband connection. Specifically here in New York, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the need to address digital equity. So how are districts coping with the wide technology gap that exists in some households, with remote or hybrid school schedules? Below we’ll explore options you can take advantage of to help all of your students succeed, in 2021.

Two key factors play into measuring the divide between those who have sufficient internet availability and those who do not: access and affordability.

In comparison with the other fifty states, New York is the second most well-connected state in the US. Overall, counties throughout New York State are fairly evenly connected, with the exception of Hamilton County, which has significantly lower coverage than the rest. In New York, the current average state-wide download speed is 190.5 Mbps (bits per second), according to the independent broadband availability data collector, broadbandnow.

As for accessibility, there are currently 307,000 New York residents who do not have access to a wired internet option capable of 25 Mbps download speeds. Download speeds less than 25 Mbps are too slow to be considered broadband and with these speeds, users may experience connectivity issues like buffering when streaming video or difficulty connecting multiple devices. Additionally, 112,000 New Yorkers have no wired internet services available at home, causing enormous disruption for remote-learning environments.

Affordability data from Q4, 2019 reveals that 70% (13.7 million people) have access to a wired internet plan that costs $60 or less per month. In this regard, New York State is well ahead of the nationwide statistics, which show that only 51.5% of consumers have access to the same. But what about those who can’t afford the cost? As thousands of students are expected to keep up with the curriculum remotely or with hybrid schedules, how can you help to level the playing field? Below are a few statewide funding resources to consider:

  • The Smart School Bond Act (SSBA) provides funding for district technology and community connectivity projects.
    • The Community Connectivity category involves partnerships between school districts and communities. It could, for example, be used to supply Wi-Fi access points or computing devices to public libraries or community centers.
  • The Broadband for All program is awarding $500 million in grant funding to support projects that deliver high-speed Internet access to Unserved and Underserved areas of the State.
  • The FCC’s Lifeline program provides low-income families with a monthly discount of up to $9.25 on a phone or broadband service.
  • Additional resources include:

While not all broadband, high-speed internet connections are made equal, it’s clear there is a connection between academic success and internet access. We hope the resources above can be a jumping-off point for your administrators to ensure no child is left behind because of digital inequality. As always, our dedicated team is committed to keeping you informed and providing helpful resources to your educators as you shape the next generation of New Yorkers. Want to connect? Contact us today.

The Challenge Ahead for NY’s 2021 Healthcare Planning

The Challenge Ahead for NY's 2021 Healthcare Planning

Before the pandemic, New York’s hospitals already had the thinnest statewide average operating margin in the nation. They face $20 billion to $25 billion in revenue losses and extraordinary costs due to COVID-19 – and that does not include the financial damages accruing during this latest surge of COVID-19 cases we are currently experiencing. Nearly a year into fighting this deadly virus, the financial situation has only become more dire. Facing a continued public health crisis, a complex vaccination rollout process for millions of New Yorkers, plus a historic deficit, healthcare industry leaders have a lot on their plates. According to the most recent information from state officials, New York projects a $13.3 billion shortfall, or 14%, in revenue and estimates a $61 billion decline through 2024 as a direct consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, what are the top financial focuses of the health industry? PwC’s new study and issues report examines healthcare’s future uncertainty by outlining six major 2021 challenges:

  1. rightsizing after the telehealth explosion
  2. adjusting to changing clinical trials
  3. encouraging digital relationships that ease physician burdens
  4. forecasting for an uncertain 2021
  5. reshaping health portfolios for growth
  6. building a resilient and responsive supply chain for long-term health

The fiscal year (FY) 2021 New York Executive Budget recommends $88.5 billion for DOH, including $76.7 billion for Medicaid, $5.3 billion for the Essential Plan, and $6.5 billion for remaining health program spending. This reflects a decrease of $71.7 billion from the FY 2020 Enacted Budget due to the discontinuation of two-year appropriations for Medicaid. Below, we will touch on some 2021 state healthcare budget highlights to anticipate. What is the future of Medicaid, prescription drug pricing, medical transparency, and new mental health funding in our region?

Redesigning Medicaid and Health Care

The FY 2021 Enacted Budget calls for Medicaid spending to increase by 3%, or about $500 million. The Medicaid Redesign Team II, a cross-section of health care providers, labor, local government, and other industry stakeholders offer up their recommendations in the FY 2021 Enacted Budget which include a transformation of the hospital reimbursement structure to support services to the uninsured, increases investments in primary care, and new requirements that enhance oversight of managed care and transportation. The reforms also address managed long-term care, by far the fastest-growing sector of Medicaid. These include aligning New York State’s eligibility requirements with those of other states for new applicants for Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program and Personal Care Services and enhancing reporting requirements for both programs; capping statewide enrollment in managed long-term care to incentivize plans to assist in ensuring appropriate enrollment, and creating a statewide independent assessor to achieve efficiencies by removing duplicative efforts to determining eligibility and enrollment in the managed long-term care program.

Prescription Drugs

The FY 2021 Enacted Budget includes a three-part plan to lower prescription drug costs for all New Yorkers. The Budget caps insulin co-payments at $100 per month for insured patients to help address the rising cost of insulin that has resulted in diabetes patients rationing, skipping doses, and not filling prescriptions. A commission of experts will also be recruited to study the feasibility and benefits of a Canadian drug importation program and submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for review.

Medical Transparency

To increase healthcare service accessibility, New York plans to create a consumer-friendly, one-stop website, called NYHealthcareCompare where New Yorkers can easily compare the cost and quality of healthcare procedures at hospitals around the state. The website will be created by the Department of Health, the Department of Financial Services, and the New York State Digital and Media Services Center.

Student Mental Health Program

Some describe the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as a psychological pandemic, as health service providers statewide have become overwhelmed with an increase in mental health requests. To meet the rising demand in light of school closures, the budget provides $10 million in funding for grants to school districts to address student mental health needs. These grants are intended to improve student access to mental health resources and assist students who have experienced trauma that negatively affects their educational experience. This program will be administered by the Office of Mental Health and developed in consultation with the State Education Department.

As we have seen, organizations need resilient infrastructures and supply chains to absorb future shocks. They need detection systems to spot financial trouble ahead and identify the right partners or deals. We understand that on every level, this industry is facing unprecedented pressures and stressors. We highly encourage management to frequently check in with employees. As a reminder, health care workers can text NYFRONTLINE to 741-741 to access 24/7 emotional support services. Any New Yorker can call the COVID-19 Emotional Support Hotline at 1-844-863-9314 for mental health counseling, and as always our dedicated RBT team is here to help you create a financial plan to navigate these complicated times.

Sources: PWC, NYS