NYS budget missing key funding for seniors, older adults

Edwin J. Viera

Senior and older-adult groups are frustrated by cuts to services in New York’s budget proposal. This includes cuts to home-care programs and the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program.

It comes a year after Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the state’s Master Plan for Aging, a legislative framework to help New York seniors age in place.

Rebecca Preve, executive director of the Association on Aging in New York, feels this lack of funding undercuts the state’s dedication to helping seniors. She described how service providers are dealing with already low funding.

“And what that means is, if you go to your locality to ask for a home-delivered meal or a personal care aide to assist you in your home, because of the funding issue, a lot of people are being placed on waiting lists for those services,” Preve explained. “In the state, currently, we have about 18,000 service lines that are waitlisted.”

She added that doesn’t begin to capture the numbers of people at a crisis point who are reaching out to their local Office for the Aging. The pandemic increased service demands for local Offices for the Aging. But the difference now is, there aren’t any federal stimulus dollars going out to fund these programs — and yet the need for services remains.

According to Preve, if the state doesn’t boost this funding, seniors will either leave the state or possibly die from a lack of necessary services.

Without proper caregiving services, this responsibility falls to family members. An AARP report shows family caregivers in New York provided $39 billion in unpaid care in 2021 — a $7 billion increase from 2019.

Preve noted without a fully funded support system to help them, things just get harder for these caregivers.

“We know that working caregivers are missing time at work. They’re either leaving the job market entirely for their caregiving duties, or they’re cutting down the number of hours that they’re able to work,” she stressed. “We know that the mental-health impact on caregivers is incredibly significant.”

Considering the ongoing challenge, Preve isn’t certain what lies ahead. She noted some people rely on skilled nursing facilities or Medicaid instead of Office for the Aging services. But some might make too much to qualify for Medicaid, making them ineligible.

Panorama Hispano is the regional news and information newspaper for Hispanic and other diverse communities.

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