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Older New Yorkers Maintain Key Health and Community Services in New York State Budget

ALBANY, N.Y., April 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement by Lois Aronstein AARP NY State Director:

AARP commends Governor Paterson, Majority Leader Smith, and Speaker Silver for their leadership in recognizing the critical needs of vulnerable New Yorkers in these tough economic times. Several key services that are critical to older New Yorkers and which also save the state money were preserved in the final state budget.

When people can't get the prescription drugs they need, it ends up making them sicker and costing our health care system more. We are pleased that the state will continue to cover prescription drugs that are not covered by Medicare Part D for the elderly enrolled in the EPIC program. However, we are disappointed that another proposal was rejected that could help reduce the costs of prescription drugs by banning gifts to doctors from drug companies.

Home- and community-based care services that keep the elderly out of expensive institutional care are vital to helping older New Yorkers live independently with dignity and choice. The Legislature restored funding for several programs that older New Yorkers rely on to stay in their communities such as Meals on Wheels and Adult Day Care.

AARP is encouraged that the state is moving 6,000 beds from expensive institutional nursing home care to the less costly and less confining assisted living program (ALP). However, we believe these beds should not be moved until the Assisted Living Program (ALP) complies with the Assisted Living Reform Act of 2004 (ALRA) from which it is now exempted.

Under the new budget agreement, low-income New Yorkers occupying assisted living beds paid for by Medicaid (ALP beds) will be governed by an inferior set of rules than those occupying non-Medicaid assisted living beds which must comply with ALRA.

Programs that assist grandparents who are raising grandchildren received a big boost in the state budget. Kinship caregivers raise nearly 400,000 children throughout New York, help keep children out of foster care, and reduce financial costs to state. The Legislature rejected proposed cuts to programs important to kinship caregivers and provided additional funding that will allow even more caregivers and children to be served.

AARP looks forward to continuing to work with the Governor and the Legislature on proposals that allow New Yorkers to remain in their communities as they grow older.

SOURCE AARP New York State
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