The New York State Association of Area Agencies on Aging explained this week that because of the funding formula in place to provide aid to senior groups, many seniors may be offered fewer support services this year. As explained in the North Country Gazette, the New York State Office for Aging is required to apportion funds to counties based on census data–the more seniors a county has, the more funding it receives. This year marks the first that changes in senior populations from the 2010 U.S. Census will be accounted for in the funding system.
Our New York elder law attorneys appreciate this is funding mechanism means that some counties will have a harder time providing the same level of services that they did in the past. According to the Census data, every county in the state except one saw an increase in the senior population. Yet, those counties which saw a comparatively smaller percentage increase will likely have funding decreased for this year. That means that senior supporting agencies in those areas will have fewer resources to provide services to more seniors.
As a result of these funding shifts, for example, New York City will lose nearly $400,000 for its Department for the Aging. This will happen even though there was a 12.4% rise in the city’s over sixty population. The Erie County Department of Senior Services will lose roughly $340,000. The Schoharie County Office for Aging and Essex County Office for the Aging will both lose over $20,000–even though both were hit hard by Hurricane Irene and both have seen over a 20% rise in their senior population.
Elder law and elder care advocates are warning of the consequences of these cuts.
Programs that may be cut as a result of these funding requirements include the Expanded In-Home Services Program (EISEP) and Community Services for the Elderly (CSE). These important programs provide at-home care management, transportation, and other aid to vulnerable elderly community members. Last month the Aging Alliance sent a letter to state lawmakers urging that $1.6 million in supplemental funds be added to the proposed budget to preserve these programs. The aid is particularly needed in the areas of the state that are expected to lose resources as part of the required funding shift.
As those working on New York elder law issues understand, proper preventative care and support for seniors can actually save money in the end. The executive director of the state’s Association of Area Agencies on Aging explained, “It doesn’t make sense to start dismantling programs that already reduce state spending on long term care. Both programs (EISEP and CSE) provide services to frail, homebound seniors who would otherwise utilize more costly services and might be admitted to a nursing home and then turn to Medicaid.”
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