158 Organizations Urge Governor Cuomo to Address Statewide Waiting Lists for Services for Older NYers
Pandemic Increases Need for More Vital Services Such as Home-Delivered Meals and Home Care
ALBANY, N.Y. – 158 organizations that provide services to older New Yorkers and their caregivers are calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to address in his next state budget proposal a growing waiting list of more than 11,000 older New Yorkers who qualify for but are not receiving vital services such as home-delivered meals, home care, and case management.
The organizations recognize Governor Cuomo’s leadership over the last two years through significant State investments in services for older New Yorkers; these can help forestall the need for mostly unwanted moves to costlier and mainly taxpayer-funded nursing homes and other institutional care settings.
COVID-19 has dramatically changed the landscape, and the need for aging services has skyrocketed since the pandemic began, the broad array of groups said in a letter to the Governor (see full letter below) in which they called these serviced a “morally-urgent and strategically cost-effective investment.”
The number of seniors waiting for case management services in New York City skyrocketed by 265% between February and August, according to LiveOn NY. In addition, the need is particularly acute among older New Yorkers of color, with new research finding 39% of Black families and 37% of Hispanic families struggling with food insecurity, compared to 25% of the population at-large.
The groups are specifically asking for increased funding for the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA), which administers many in-home services for the elderly. These investments are needed to address the skyrocketing demand for nutrition and community-based services among older New Yorkers, and will help to enable older New Yorkers to remain safely in their homes and communities – as the vast majority want.
Just a 1% increase in meal service would lead to $11,427,143 in taxpayer-funded Medicaid savings, the groups note.
More than 11,000 older New Yorkers are languishing on waiting lists for life-sustaining services in counties across the State, according to the Association on Aging in New York. Given that older adults are most at-risk from the coronavirus, and that NYSOFA projects adults 60 and older will account for 25% of the State’s population by 2030, this funding would address both a significant existing and future need among New York’s senior population.
“This pandemic has hit older people hardest,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel. “Most of us want to remain in our homes and communities, and a bit of help goes a long way. Without it, many wind up in nursing homes – at a much higher cost, most of which is borne by taxpayers. Investing in services for the aging is both compassionate and cost-effective.”
“We are now faced with a new reality with over 11,000 older adults across New York waiting for critical services such as home-delivered meals, home care and case management,” said Allison Nickerson, Executive Director of LiveOn NY. “The waiting list for senior services has heightened to an unimaginable demand, straining providers, who are working to meet the growing need, despite insufficient funds. Investing in senior services will not only ensure older adults have the support they need today but create a better future for the years to come.”
“In response to the COVID-19 crisis, settlement houses immediately pivoted their feeding services to meet the rising need of older adults in their communities,” said Susan Stamler, Executive Director of United Neighborhood Houses. “Today, they continue to provide emergency food through home delivered meal programs, food pantries, and their own community efforts. State funding has long supported these services, but with need exponentially on the rise, we are at a crisis point. United Neighborhood Houses and more than 150 groups statewide urge New York State to prioritize the health and safety of older adults by making new and significant investments in these programs. We look forward to working with NYSOFA to ensure community-based organizations have all the resources they need to continue serving on the frontlines of this pandemic.”
“Together, we must protect the safety net for seniors, most at-risk for COVID-19,” said Beth Shapiro, Executive Director for Citymeals on Wheels, an organization that has delivered meals to the homebound elderly in New York City for nearly 40 years. “We’ve added nearly 2,000 recipients to our delivery routes and provided emergency food to 50,000 vulnerable older New Yorkers struggling to secure food during this crisis. Programs like ours are a cost-effective way of helping older New Yorkers age safely in their own homes and avoid institutionalization, where COVID-19 has had a devastating impact. We are ready to work with any and all partners to accelerate service, eliminate wait lists and get more food onto the tables of those most in need.”
“Every single day we hear from older adults who are struggling with basic needs,” said Ann Marie Cook, President/CEO of Lifespan of Greater Rochester. “People who need food. People who are at risk of eviction. People who need access to health care. We are hearing heartbreaking stories from grandparents trying to feed and assist their grandchildren. We are hearing from family caregivers desperate for some relief. We are hearing from older adults who are depressed and get NO interaction from anyone. The COVID-19 crisis has stretched an already overextended system for aging services. We implore leaders to support the aging services network so we can help older New Yorkers to remain safe and thrive in the community.”
“Older New Yorkers have been the most significantly impacted segment of the population due to COVID-19 and the poor health outcomes associated with contracting the virus later in life,” said Becky Preve, Executive Director of the Association on Aging in New York. “Basic human needs, such as nutrition, personal care, prescription delivery, and transportation have skyrocketed, and impacted an already overwhelmed Aging Services infrastructure. The 59 Area Agencies on Aging, and their partner agencies, have identified over 11, 000 individuals whom cannot access services due to financial constraints. These services are necessary for individuals to remain safe, in their homes and communities, and without them, many are faced with necessitating a higher level of care. Older New Yorkers deserve the dignity, respect, and autonomy to have access to these services and supports. We implore the Federal and State Government to ensure our older residents are not left to languish on waiting lists, or lose their current services due to a lack of investment into the aging services network.”
Text of Letter to Governor Cuomo:
December 9, 2020
The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
Honorable Governor Cuomo,
On behalf of our organizations, thank you for your continued efforts to combat the COVID-19 crisis, which has challenged our State unlike ever before.
We first would like to alert you to the existence of waiting lists totaling more than 11,000 older New Yorkers that are currently unable to receive vital services such as home-delivered meals, home care, and case management, as should be funded through the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA).
Therefore we, the undersigned groups, respectfully write to request a significant investment to address such waiting lists for services, such as home-delivered meals and home care, that enable older New Yorkers to age in their homes, as well as to sustain food banks and other nutrition programs in the Fiscal Year 2021-2022 budget. These investments are critical to addressing the skyrocketing demand for nutrition and community-based services among older New Yorkers, and will help to enable older New Yorkers to age safely in their homes, in communities, as is preferred by the majority of older adults.
Further, given the exorbitant strain COVID-19 has placed on the older adult population, we also request the NYSOFA budget, as well as the budgets for all critical human services entities, be held to the same indexes as Health and Education. While we recognize the significant budgetary constraints currently faced by New York State, we implore you to prioritize making this morally-urgent and strategically cost-effective investment to support older New Yorkers and all those in need.
These investments are integral given the more than 11,000 older New Yorkers currently languishing on waiting lists for life-sustaining services in counties across New York. Given the nature of the COVID-19 crisis placing older adults as most at-risk to the virus, and the fact that the older adult population in New York is expected to reach 5.3 million older New Yorkers by 2030—equating to 25% of the state’s population—we are confident that this funding will address both a significant existing and future need among New York’s senior population.
We recognize and applaud the significant investment made just two years ago to address the unmet need at that point in time; however, our new reality indicates that the new need for such services has skyrocketed since this time. This increase has been exponential, as of August, 2,936 seniors were waiting for Case Management services in New York City, up 265% since just this February. Further, while the growth has been significant across populations, it has been especially acute among older New Yorkers of color, with new research finding 39% of Black families and 37% of Hispanic families struggling with food insecurity, compared to 25% of the population at-large.
The good news is that by investing in these supports, New York will not only be ensuring an improved quality of life to those in need, but will inevitably help balance the State’s budget by reducing Medicaid expenditures. Notably, findings indicate that for every 1% increase in home-delivered meal service to the older adult population, there is a significant savings to Medicaid through the reduction of higher cost care. More specifically, findings indicate that in New York, savings from just a 1% increase in meal service would lead to $11,427,143 Medicaid savings—proving that waiting lists for such services actually cost more than the cost of the meal service itself.
Thank you for considering this funding proposal in advance of the Fiscal Year 2021-2022 Executive Budget proposal. We are hopeful that these concerns will be addressed in the budget and we remain available to offer additional information that might be needed to clarify the case for this critical need.
AARP New York
Association on Aging in New York
United Neighborhood Houses
UJA-Federation of New York
New York Caring Majority
Lifespan of Greater Rochester
New York StateWide Senior Action Council
A&A Staffing Health Care Services
ABSW Neighborhood Senior Center
Albany County Department for Aging
Allegany County Office for the Aging
Allegany Senior Foundation
Allen Community Senior Citizens Center
Alpha Phi Alpha Senior Citizens Center, Inc.
Arc of Genesee Orleans
Bay Ridge Center
Bedford Park Multi Service Center for Senior Citizens Inc
Brooklyn Neighborhood Services
Brooklyn-wide Interagency Council on Aging
Broome County Office for Aging
Community Agency for Senior Citizens, Inc. (CASC)
Community Outreach Center
Cortland County Area Agency on Aging
Catholic Charities of Onondaga County
Catholic Family Center
Cattaraugus County Department of the Aging
Center for Elder Law & Justice
Centro de Amigos, Social Adult Day Care
Chautauqua Adult Day Services
Chautauqua County Office for Aging Services
Chemung County Department of Aging and Long Term Care
Chenango County Area Agency on Aging
Chinese-American Planning Council
City of Yonkers, Office for the Aging
Citymeals on Wheels
Clinton County Office for the Aging
Columbia County Office for the Aging
Dutchess County Office for the Aging
East Side House Settlement
Emerald Isle Immigration Center
Encore Community Services
Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.
Essex County Government Center
Erie County – Senior Services
Family & Children’s Association
Family Service Society of Yonkers
Florence E. Smith Senior Services
Fordham Bedford Community Services
Fulton County Office for Aging & Youth
Genesee County Office for the Aging
Good Neighbors of Park Slope
Greene County Department of Human Services
Heights & Hills
Henry Street Settlement
Herkimer County Office for the Aging
Huntington Family Centers
India Home Inc.
Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement
Jefferson County Office for the Aging
Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island
Jewish Family Services of Ulster County
Jewish Home of CNY
Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York, Inc.
Lenox Hill Neighborhood House
Livingston County Office for the Aging
Lord of Life Adult & Child Services, Inc
Madison Co Office for the Aging, Inc
Meals On Wheels Of Syracuse, New York Inc
Meals on Wheels Programs & Services or Rockland, Inc.
Montgomery County Office for Aging, Inc.
Morningside Retirement and Health Services, Inc. (MRHS)
Mount Kisco Senior Nutrion Program
Mount Vernon Recreation Department
Mt. Pleasant Office of Elder Americans
New York Memory Center
New York State Alliance for Retired Americans
New York Vision Rehabilitation Association NYVRA
Northern Services Group
Northeast Bronx Senior Citizens, Inc.
Ocean Bay Community Development Corp.
Oneida County Family and Community Services-OFA
Ontario County Office for the Aging
Orange County Office for the Aging
Orleans County Office for the Aging
Oswego County Office for the Aging
Otsego County Office for the Aging
Polish and Slavic Center
PSS (Presbyterian Senior Services)
Putnam County Office for Senior Resources
RiseBoro Community Partnership
Riverstone Senior Life Services
Rochdale Senior Center
Rockland County Office for the Aging
RSS Riverdale Senior Services
Schenectady County Department of Senior and Long Term Care Services
Schoharie County Office for the Aging
Schuyler County Office for the Aging
Search and Care
Selfhelp Community Services
Seneca County Office for the Aging
Senior Citizens League Of Flatbush/Midwood
Shorefront Jewish Community Council
Sisters of Charity Housing Development Corporation
Services Now for Adult Persons, Inc.
Spanish Speaking Elderly Council – RAICES
SPOP (Service Program for Older People)
St. Lawrence County Office for the Aging
Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center
Steuben County Office for the Aging
Stonewall Community Development Corporation
Suffolk County Office for the Aging
Sullivan County Office For The Aging
Syracuse Northeast Community Center
Tioga Opportunities, Inc.
Tompkins County Office for the Aging
Town of Greenburgh
Ulster County Office For the Aging
United Jewish Council of the East Side, Inc.
Vision Urbana, Inc.
Visiting Neighbors, Inc.
Volunteer New York!
Volunteer Transportation Center, Inc.
Warren/Hamilton Counties Office for the Aging
Washington County Office for the Aging and Disabilities Resource Center
Washington Heights Community Services, INC
Wayne County Department of Aging and Youth
Wayside Outreach Development inc
Weill Cornell Medicine’s NYC Elder Abuse Center
Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services
West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing (WSFSSH)
Westcott Community Center
Wyoming County Office for the Aging
YM & YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood
YMCA of Greater New York
Robert Mujica, Director of the New York State Division of the Budget
Greg Olsen, Acting Director of the New York State Office for the Aging
Kerri Neifeld, Assistant Secretary for Human Services & Mental Hygiene, Office of the Governor
Jesse Olczak, Chief Budget Examiner, Division of the Budget
Donna Frescatore, Medicaid Director, Department of Health
Rachel Baker, Excelsior Service Fellow
Senator Rachel May, Chair of the Senate Committee on Aging
Assembly Member Bronson, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Aging