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AARP Applauds Gov. Hochul for Initiatives to Help Utility Consumers & Family Caregivers
ALBANY, N.Y. – AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel issued the following statement today on Governor Kathy Hochul’s 2023 State of the State Message:
“Governor Hochul’s agenda includes many promising initiatives, from assisting struggling utility consumers and family caregivers to ensuring New Yorkers in need receive the benefits they qualify for, and AARP will urge her and the state Legislature to ensure these proposals help New Yorkers 50 and over.
“The Governor included a couple of extremely promising initiatives to ensure New Yorkers who qualify for benefits receive them.
“We are very encouraged by her intention to appoint a Chief Customer Experience Officer to ensure state agencies make it easier for beneficiaries of one benefits program to enroll in other programs.
“She also proposed allowing participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Home Energy Assistance Program, Medicaid, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children to demonstrate that they’re income-eligible for child care.
“That principle should be applied to older adults eligible for SNAP, the Low Income Energy Assistance Program and the Medicare Savings Program, which helps seniors save money on Medicare premiums and prescription drugs.
“The State should ensure New Yorkers are enrolled in all programs for which they qualify and receive the benefits - and stop leaving millions of dollars of federal aid on the table that can help New Yorkers and local economies.”
“The Governor’s proposal to invest in ‘care teams’ to provide care for low-income adults in their home, thereby helping ensure New Yorkers can age in place, is the right approach in our fast-aging state.
“Providing respite care for over-stressed, high-need family caregivers would help achieve that goal by giving these unpaid caregivers the break they need to avoid burnout – which often leads to unwanted, costly and mostly taxpayer-funded nursing homes.
“But for those of our loved ones who must live in nursing homes, we urge the Governor to include in her upcoming state budget proposal a $15 million increase for New York’s independent nursing home watchdog agency, the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP), to hire additional badly-needed professional staff.
“Over 96% of New York City’s nursing homes and adult care facilities, and over half statewide, got no visits at all from LTCOP during the first quarter of last year because of insufficient staff.
“The Governor took a positive step for nursing home residents by signing a bill late last year requiring LTCOP to increase reporting of patterns and types of complaints, detail the number of visits to each facility, and make policy recommendations; however, this important new information will only lead to improved nursing home conditions with more professional staff at LTCOP.”
“With the sharp increase in residential and commercial utility rates this winter, we’re heartened by the Governor’s plan to provide $200 million for a monthly discount to more than 800,000 electric utility customers earning under $75,000 a year who aren’t eligible for the current utility discount program, funding that will aid consumers struggling with high electric bills.
“We’re also pleased the Governor has directed state agencies that administer energy affordability programs to improve existing mechanisms to ensure the state is connecting all eligible New Yorkers with utility assistance programs and other benefits for which they qualify. This initiative will enable low- and middle-income residents to pay their ever-increasing utility bills at a time when energy costs are skyrocketing.”
“While AARP fought big drug companies in Washington last year to win reductions in prescription drug prices, there is much the State can do to help New Yorkers of all ages afford drugs whose costs remain the highest in the world.
“We’re encouraged by her plan to give New York the strongest prescription drug price transparency program in the country, including requiring drug makers to publicly report drug price changes in advance.
“We also urge the Governor to propose additional measures to make prescription drugs more affordable and accessible, such as a safe importation plan for far less costly but equally safe prescription drugs from Canada – or importation of Canadian drug prices.”
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AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org, www.aarp.org/espanol or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspanol and @AARPadvocates, @AliadosAdelante on social media.