NEW YORK – New York City’s new budget cuts funding for services critical to seniors.
Despite an overall $400 million increase in spending, the 2017 budget approved by the City Council on Tuesday cuts senior home care services by $2.2 million, or about 50 percent, and senior case management by 40 percent.
According to Chris Widelo, associate state director for advocacy in New York City for AARP, that means fewer seniors will get the help they need to remain independent.
“Home care programs are essential to make sure that people can receive the care that they need in their home, which is really where they prefer to receive care for as long as it’s reasonably possible,” Widelo points out.
Home care also is much more economical than expensive nursing homes.
The cuts in city funding compound a shortfall in assistance for seniors on the state level.
Widelo says the state budget included only $1 million of a requested $25 million increase in funding to reduce the estimated 10,000 people on waiting lists for home and community based services.
“And that number’s going to continue to grow because as the aging population that needs these services grows, so does the funding that we’ll need to make sure that they are cared for,” he states.
However, Widelo says the passage of the state Family and Medical Leave Act this year will greatly benefit both seniors and family caregivers, helping many older New Yorkers stay in their homes longer.
The state legislative session ends today. But in New York City, Widelo says, there’s still time to advocate for seniors’ home care services.
“We’re going to continue to work with the council and the mayor to see if there is a way that they can find some additional funding to make these programs whole again,” he stresses.
According to AARP, the city could stabilize all senior services and start a caregiver support program for less than $15 million.
PHOTO: Case managers and home-care services help seniors live independently longer. Photo Credit: Sigismund von Dobschütz/Wikimedia Commons.
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