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AARP NY: Governor, Legislative Leaders Fail to Address Needs of Older, Fragile Population & Family Caregivers

Posted on 04/19/24

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En español | ALBANY, N.Y. - AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel issued the following statement today on the New York State Legislature’s expected passage of the aid to localities bill in the state budget for the 2024-2025 fiscal year:  

“People age 65 and over are the fastest-growing segment of New York State’s population (3.5 million and counting), but you wouldn’t know it from the State Office for the Aging (SOFA) budget expected to be approved by the Legislature. Governor Kathy Hochul, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins have let older New Yorkers down, plain and simple, by ignoring the needs of some of our most vulnerable citizens and their family caregivers.  

“The problem starts with the Governor, whose budget proposal cut $9.3 million from SOFA, which oversees county-run home- and community-based services that allow aging New Yorkers to live with dignity in their own homes. The Assembly and Senate restored the cut and only added another $700,000, far below the $51 million needed to eliminate a huge statewide wait list (11,000-plus and counting) for such vital services as home-delivered meals and personal care, including toileting and bathing.  

“A 2023 SOFA report said many people on county waiting lists for services are getting injured in falls and requiring emergency room treatment, while others even die while awaiting services.  

“It’s outrageous to AARP New York and its 2.2 million members that despite the Assembly and Senate adding $4 billion to the Governor’s budget proposal, older New Yorkers in need of in-home care are short-changed yet again.  

“The same goes for the family caregivers who take care of their aging loved ones. They need help, and they need it now. By failing to provide enough funding to eliminate the wait list for home- and community-based services, state leaders are forcing thousands of families across New York to face a difficult question: Is it time to put our loved one in a nursing home?  

“And if the answer is yes, other concerns loom. The state’s Long Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) has been woefully underfunded for years. The Governor’s budget plan cut the program this year by $2.5 million. The Legislature is putting back the $2.5 million, same as last year.

“Again, it’s just not enough. At least $15 million is needed to professionalize and improve LTCOP to the point where each facility receives a weekly visit from an ombudsman, which is the program’s stated goal. Yet only 12% of facilities are visited on a weekly basis, according to SOFA’s own records.  

“Keeping LTCOP’s funding flat means the vast majority of nursing homes will continue to lack a key facet of oversight that looks out for the safety and well-being of some of our state’s most fragile residents.  

“Older New Yorkers deserve better. Our state leaders can’t keep ignoring them.”  

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About AARP

AARP is the nation's largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to the more than 100 million Americans 50-plus and their families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also works for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen, high-quality products and services to carry the AARP name. As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the nation's largest circulation publications, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org/about-aarp/, www.aarp.org/español or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspañol and @AARPadvocates on social media.  

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