AP NEWS

Groups seek more funding for in-home services for the aging

March 5, 2019

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Millions more in state funding is needed to provide in-home services such as meal deliveries for the growing number of New Yorkers 65 or older who want to remain in their homes but need assistance to do so, advocates for the aging said Tuesday.

Officials from AARP’s New York chapter and other organizations that deal with issues facing older residents lobbied lawmakers in Albany on Tuesday to push for another $25 million in state funding.

The groups said the funding will help New Yorkers age in their own homes rather than in costlier, taxpayer-funded nursing homes.

“It just makes common sense and fiscal sense,” especially given the Cuomo administration’s lowered tax revenue estimate for the next state budget, said Beth Finkel, state director for AARP New York.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a $15 million increase in funding for in-home, community-based services such as transportation to medical appointments and help with daily activities. Cuomo’s $175 billion budget includes $50 million for such programs, which are overseen by the state Office for the Aging.

But Finkel and other advocates are pushing Cuomo and the Democrat-controlled Legislature for a $25 million increase. Cuomo’s extra $15 million alone could be spent to clear up a statewide backlog of at least 9,000 people who are on county-maintained waiting lists to receive in-home services, according to Michele Roberts, executive director of the Association on Aging in New York.

Nick Verleni, 87, knows firsthand what receiving assistance on a regular basis can mean. A retired construction worker and restaurant owner in Jamestown, he has lived alone since his wife moved into a Pennsylvania nursing home managed by her daughter. The Office for the Aging arranges delivered meals and routine maintenance around his apartment, he said.

“I would probably be in a nursing home if I didn’t have it,” Verleni said in a phone interview.

There are now more New Yorkers 65 and older than children younger than 13, and one in every six New Yorker is 65 or over, according to AARP. Providing non-Medicaid services that allow those older residents to remain in their homes benefits local businesses and taxpayers in the long run, Finkel said.

Also on Monday, Assemblyman Harry Bronson, of Rochester, the chairman of his chamber’s committee on aging, planned to introduce legislation that would give people who provide care for an older loved one a tax credit for out-of-pocket expenses. According to the Office for the Aging, about three million New Yorkers provide unpaid care to older family members and loved ones.

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