Assemblyman Jones Joined by County, State Officials to Discuss Seniors Programs

April 11, 2019

Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay) was joined by Greg Olsen, Acting Director for NYS Office for the Aging and Rebecca Peeve, Director of the Franklin County Office for the Aging at the Franklin County Courthouse on Thursday, April 11, 2019 to discuss seniors programs in the 2019-20 state budget. The budget provides key investments to better support North Country seniors, including supporting the Senior Planet program which provides free computer training for senior citizens across the region.

“With this year’s state budget, we worked to ensure our seniors receive the best possible services and resources in the communities they helped build,” Jones said. “From protecting access to healthcare to helping more folks stay connected in the digital world, North Country seniors can rest assured that I’ll always be in their corner.”

“The strong advocacy of Assemblyman Jones was instrumental in securing the landmark investment in aging services, to specifically target unmet needs in our local community,” said Rebecca Preve. “Additionally, the continued investment in the Older Adults Technology Solutions program allows older residents to benefit from training and technical assistance in the North County. Franklin County Office for the Aging applauds Assemblyman Jones for his dedication and commitment to the aging population.”

The budget includes a total of $65.1 million – for Expanded In-home Services for the Elderly (EISEP), of which $15 million of this will be designated to address the unmet needs of our local offices of the aging, providing them with critical funding to help keep seniors in their own homes and out of nursing facilities. This funding will help to provide non-medical, in-home services such as personal care and housekeeping. Additionally the budget providing funding for The Senior Planet program offered at both the Champlain Centre and the Malone Adult Center. Jones secured $200,000 in support of the Older American Technology Services, Inc. (OATS) which provides training to seniors about the latest in computer technology to keep them engaged and connected to both their families and all the vital information and commerce the web offers.

To ensure seniors have access to critical health care services, the state budget restores $550 million in healthcare cuts from the executive proposal, which includes $222 million to restore the 2% rate increase for hospitals and the 1.5% rate increase for nursing homes. The budget also provides $5.9 million to preserve the right of spousal refusal, which allows a spouse to obtain care under the Medicaid program without impoverishing the other spouse. By funding this program, we can help keep families together and allow aging New Yorkers to stay in their homes and be independent, noted Jones.

The budget also restores $31 million in pharmacy reductions to protect access to affordable health care and prescription coverage. Further, the budget enables fair drug pricing by prohibiting pharmacy benefit managers from engaging in spread pricing and by adding additional transparency measures. Additionally, the budget allows more seniors to stay in their communities by increasing the maximum amount the state can provide a Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC) from $200,000 to $300,000.

Lastly, recognizing that many seniors live on a fixed income, the budget also continues essential tax relief for seniors. It makes the 2% property tax cap permanent, which ensures that seniors will be able to continue to afford their home and the land they live on. It also protects the STAR program, which provides vital tax relief to homeowners.

“With this state budget, we made seniors a priority,” Jones said. “From delivering tax relief to protecting healthcare and important community programs, we continue to give back to those who have spent their lives improving our community.”