Photo credit: istockphoto/ © FredFroese

Photo credit: istockphoto/ © FredFroese

Governor’s Budget Proposal Would Allow More New Yorkers to Age at Home, Support Family Caregivers; Could Save Costs

ALBANY, NEW YORK – Advocates for seniors, people with disabilities and health care professionals today called on the New York State Senate to support improved patient care and help for family caregivers by supporting a plan by Governor Andrew Cuomo to allow home health aides to perform more health care tasks with additional training.

The proposal, part of the 2015-16 executive budget, was recommended by the Governor’s Medicaid Redesign Team.

The groups say ensuring flexibility for health care providers and increasing the availability of the home and community based services workforce would allow more New Yorkers to receive their care at home and avoid unnecessary, unwanted and expensive placements in institutional settings that are often paid for by taxpayers through Medicaid.

Currently, many health related tasks fall to the family caregiver. Allowing nurses to delegate and transfer authority to perform these tasks to trained home health aides in regular direct contact with patients will go far to improving care and relieving burdened family caregivers.

“AARP calls on the Senate to embrace this common sense proposal, which would improve access to care and support family caregivers, allowing more New Yorkers to age with dignity in their own homes while saving taxpayers money,” said Beth Finkel, State Director of AARP in New York State.

Already, 16 other states allow nurses to assign more tasks to paid aides than New York does. The Governor’s proposal would change that – and as the population ages, the need for long-term care will only increase.

“The Advanced Home Health Aide (AHHA) proposal is necessary for the thousands of families who lack the ability to leave their jobs in order to care for family members who need aide services that cannot currently be performed by a home health aide,” said Carol Rodat, New York Policy Director for PHI. “The legislation will also provide a career ladder for thousands of aides, ensuring that New York will have the workforce it needs for consumers to remain in their homes and communities.”

“Enacting the Advanced Home Health Aide proposal is necessary to allow for implementation of the Community First Choice option in New York State, a federal program offered to states through the Affordable Care Act that has the potential to make dramatic, positive changes in how New York provides services to people with disabilities to promote independent living and community integration,” said Lindsay Miller, Executive Director of the New York Association on Independent Living. “Disability and aging advocates have worked tirelessly with the state since 2011 to develop a proposal that addresses all parties’ concerns while still meeting the critical need of people with disabilities and seniors who wish to live in the community.  We urge the Senate not to stall implementation any longer.”

“The advanced home health aide is critical not only to helping people stay in their home, but to helping the state save millions in Medicaid spending,” said Bryan O’Malley, executive director of the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Association of New York State. “This is a win-win proposal with no opposition; it is unconscionable that Senator (Kenneth) Lavalle and his colleagues are holding it up for reasons known only to them.”

“I don’t understand why the Senate is obstructing the AHHA program that will help thousands of people with disabilities and seniors live in the community,” said Bruce Darling, CEO of the Center for Disability Rights. “At the same time, the Senate is throwing away millions of dollars in additional funding to the state, which should appall every taxpayer.”

“In blocking this, the Senate is ignoring all of the stakeholders on this issue,” said Stephanie Woodward, an organizer with NYS ADAPT. “Homecare recipients, their families, the aging community, attendants, nurses, and radical disability rights activists all agree that this is the right thing to do. The Senate needs to stop ignoring us and recognize that it’s our job to represent the will of our communities and it is their job to listen to their constituents.”   

“Suffolk Independent Living Organization (SILO) strongly supports the governor’s bill that would allow advanced home health aides to be authorized to perform certain tasks by creating an exemption in the Nurse Practice Act,” said Joseph M. Delgado, SILO Executive Director. “This will increase the numbers of home health aides, allowing for people with disabilities to exercise choice, and secure the support to continue living independently within their community.”

Home health aides would receive additional training and have to pass competency tests under the Governor’s proposal, which includes critical safeguards such as ensuring registered professional nurses retain the discretion to assign tasks to certified aides while continuing to supervise those aides closely.

“The vast majority of New Yorkers and Americans want to age in their own homes, surrounded by their own families, and Governor Cuomo’s proposal would allow more of them to do just that,” added Finkel.

When consumers in traditional home care programs require routine care that is not permitted to be assigned by a registered nurse to a paid aide, the result can be a significant burden on family. For example, family members may have to make a trip home during lunch to give a relative medicine, but the need for the trip could be eliminated if the home health aide were able to take care of the task.

Washington State and New Jersey found that allowing nurses to assign tasks to trained and supervised aides brought improved consistency to the care and brought unlicensed and unregulated practice under the supervision of registered nurses.

New tasks that could be allowed under the Governor’s proposal if assigned by a registered nurse include things like administering eye and ear drops and performing nebulizer treatments.

AARP also supports an amendment to the Governor’s proposal to include enhanced assisted living facilities as an allowable employment setting for advanced home health aides.

Contacts: Erik Kriss, ekriss@aarp.org; Chaunda Ball, cball@aarp.org

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 AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services.  A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world’s largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity of AARP that is working to win back opportunity for struggling Americans 50+ by being a force for change on the most serious issues they face today: housing, hunger, income and isolation. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org.

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