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AARP AARP States New York Advocacy

AARP NY Lauds Passage of Bill Matching Prescription and Energy Relief Benefits

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ALBANY, N.Y.AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel issued the following statement today on passage in both houses of the New York State Legislature of a bill (S.8760/A.9369) that would automatically enroll eligible older individuals receiving low-cost prescription drug benefits into a federal program that helps with utility costs.

“It’s clear that older New Yorkers eligible for our Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage Program (EPIC) are many of the same people who struggle with ever-increasing energy bills and would benefit from being enrolled in the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). But for too long, people have had to apply separately – that is, if they were even aware they were eligible for both programs,” Finkel said. “We applaud the New York State Legislature for encouraging our government agencies to work together on behalf of older New Yorkers in need of help paying for their medications as well as their utility bills.

“With this move, our elected leaders are cutting red tape and showing their humanity by ensuring that older people with low incomes who qualify for one benefit also receive the other. We urge Governor Hochul to sign into law this measure that will improve the quality of life for countless older New Yorkers.”

On Friday, just before the Legislature ended its 2024 session, the Senate passed the benefits matching bill sponsored by Sen. Cordell Cleare, of Harlem, by a vote of 55-0. The Assembly had already overwhelmingly passed the bill, sponsored by Assemblymember John McDonald of Cohoes, by a vote of 147-1.

“AARP thanks the leadership of Senator Cleare and Assemblyman McDonald for advancing this common-sense legislation through the Legislature to extend basic relief to a wider share of older New Yorkers,” Finkel added. “We urge Governor Hochul to sign this measure that will help ease some of the financial burden so many of our older residents bear.”

The New York State Energy Research & Development Authority released a report from Columbia University showing that while a million households with older citizens were eligible for HEAP in 2017, fewer than 400,000 participated.   A benefits matching law would establish a collaboration between the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance and the Department of Health. In addition, there would be no added cost to New York taxpayers because HEAP is a federal program. Currently, the state does not draw down enough of these federal funds that could help thousands of its citizens.    

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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,ñol or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspañol and @AARPadvocates on social media.

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