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Can Further Help Middle Class NYers with State-Facilitated Workplace Retirement Savings Option, Support for Family Caregivers to Help NYers Age in Own Homes

ALBANY, N.Y. – AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel issued the following statement today in response to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s annual State of the State Message:

“AARP is thrilled that Governor Cuomo is walking the talk on his commitment from last year making New York the first ‘age-friendly’ state in the nation.

His executive order directing state agencies to consider health and healthy aging in their policies and procurements and aiming to make half of all health systems age-friendly within five years – by among other things establishing emergency rooms better equipped to provide care to aging New Yorkers with cognitive and other physical disabilities – puts New York on a path to addressing the increasing needs of the fastest growing segment of our population: the 50+.

Agency goals will be aligned with those of the AARP-World Health Organization’s Age-Friendly Network – of which New York last year committed to become the first state.

Additionally, the Long Term Care Planning Council the Governor announced to help prepare for the middle class needs of the next decade can play a key role in reconfiguring our health system to align with our aging population.

We applaud his announcement of a campaign empowering New Yorkers to take control of their own health futures by completing Advanced Care Planning documents, as well as his intention to make the Department of Health’s ACP website more user-friendly.

And we thank the Governor for proposing to expand the use of telehealth to rural areas, which will make it easier for older and all rural New Yorkers to get the health care they need.

However, AARP is disappointed that the Governor failed to propose several cost-effective innovations to help the middle class that we have suggested.

A voluntary, state-facilitated retirement savings option would help many of the over 3.5 million New Yorkers – more than half the private sector workforce – whose employer offers them no way to save for retirement on the job. The plan would be voluntary for both employers and employees and would carry only nominal costs to the state and to companies. And 73% of the state’s small businesses that don’t offer such a plan said they probably would if a low-cost state option were available.

A tax credit to help unpaid family caregivers offset some of the nearly $7,000 they spend on average out of pocket each year to ensure their loved ones are cared for and an additional $25 million investment in non-Medicaid home and community-based services would help more New Yorkers age at home – as the vast majority want – rather than in much costlier and mostly taxpayer-financed nursing homes.

AARP hopes that the Governor addresses in his budget proposal later this month the needs of family caregivers and the lack of retirement savings – which he himself acknowledged two years ago is part of a growing national crisis resulting from a changing economy in which fewer companies offer a pension, 401(k) or any savings option.

The 50+ – who contribute over $704 billion to New York’s gross domestic product every year, half the total, need these helping hands.

AARP is pleased the Governor’s Department of Financial Services recently proposed a rule requiring brokers to put their customers’ ‘best interest’ ahead of their own compensation when selling life insurance and annuity products. And we remind working New Yorkers that they can now take advantage of the strong paid family leave law the Governor championed last year.”

Contact: Erik Kriss, ekriss@aarp.org

Follow us on Twitter:  @AARPNY and Facebook: AARP New York

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million that helps people turn their goals and dreams into ‘Real Possibilities’ by changing the way America defines aging. With staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and promote the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare security, financial security and personal fulfillment. AARP also advocates for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name.  As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the world’s largest circulation magazine, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and our CEO @JoAnn_Jenkins on Twitter.

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