Last Updated: April 20, 2022
Building on Governor Kathy Hochul’s State-of-the-State agenda and Executive Budget, the newly enacted Fiscal Year 2023 State Budget – approved by the Legislature and signed into law in early April 2022 – advances New York’s longstanding commitment to Age-Friendly principles and supports for older adults.
This includes direct support for programs delivered by the state’s network of 59 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and their nearly 1,200 community partners. The budget also invests in several NYSOFA innovations to help caregivers, provide tools for older adults to remain independent, and combat social isolation.
More broadly, the budget additionally authorizes the Governor’s visionary proposed State Master Plan for Aging, which is a deliberate process and plan to support individuals of all ages by promoting several core "livability" goals across all areas of health care policy. As we reported in our March edition of Inside NYS Aging, this soon-to-be-implemented process is a next, important stage of our decade-long collaborative work under the umbrella of New York’s Prevention Agenda and Health Across All Policies approach, as well as New York’s corresponding designation as the first Age-Friendly State in the nation.
Support for Core NYSOFA/Network Programs and Services
The enacted FY 2023 State Budget specifically appropriates $181,525,000 in total funds for NYSOFA programs and AAA/network services. This includes programs and services in the following categories:
- Community Services for the Elderly (CSE), which provides community-based, supportive services for older adults who need assistance to maintain their independence at home ($35,867,000).
- The Expanded In-home Services for the Elderly (EISEP) program, which provides a coordinated package of in-home and other supportive services designed to support and supplement informal care ($67,498,000).
- The Wellness in Nutrition program, which includes home-delivered meals, congregate meals, and other nutrition supports, such as shopping assistance, nutrition counseling, and nutrition education ($33,747,000).
- The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, which advocates for residents and their families in nursing homes and other facilities ($3,690,000). This enacted funding includes $2,500,000 added to the Executive Budget proposal during negotiations with the Legislature. Such funds are necessary to meet the growing advocacy needs of long-term care residents as well as new responsibilities and administrative demands on the program stemming from recent legislation.
- Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs) and Neighborhood NORCs (NNORCs), which coordinate a broad range of health and social services to help support older residents age in their own homes ($8,880,000). This includes $825,000 that was added to the original Executive Budget proposal for nursing services in NORCs/NNORCs.
- Funding for respite ($656,000); social adult day care services ($1,072,000); elder abuse initiatives ($995,000); Enhanced Multi-disciplinary Teams ($500,000), which is a program that brings together various disciplines to intervene in cases of older adult abuse, including financial exploitation, physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect by others; and the Health Insurance Information Counseling and Assistance Program ($1,000,000), which provides free, accurate, and objective information, counseling, assistance, and advocacy on Medicare, private health insurance, and related health coverage plans.
- $150,000 to expand NYSOFA’s stipend program in the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program and Health Information, Insurance, Counseling and Assistance Program to provide additional resources to expand and retain volunteers.
The Governor’s Executive Budget also includes:
- $23 million to support additional service capacity through AAAs who identify unmet local needs.
- $750,000 that would be suballocated to NYSOFA from the Department of Financial Services to expand bill-payer programs aimed at combatting elder abuse and financial exploitation in up to ten counties – a program that was highlighted in the Governor’s original State of the State agenda.
- $2.9 million in funding for pioneering NYSOFA initiatives to combat social isolation and offer new or expanded innovations in aging service provision, as detailed below.
NYSOFA Innovations in Further Detail
Well before the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2017, the U.S. Surgeon General declared a "global epidemic" of social isolation. Recognizing this serious public health concern, NYSOFA has launched several pioneering initiatives to ease loneliness and connect individuals through virtual means. We've redoubled and significantly expanded those offerings as COVID-19 has elevated this problem to unprecedented levels.
Thanks to support from Governor Hochul and the Legislature, approximately $2.9 million in FY 2023 State Budget investments will be dedicated to the continuation or implementation of NYSOFA program innovations:
- $350,000 for NYSOFA's animatronic pet initiative, which provides lifelike companion pets for older adults and is proven to reduce self-reported loneliness by 70 percent. This award-winning initiative has so far delivered almost 4,000 animatronic pets to isolated older adults throughout New York State’s Aging Network. These funds will assist in distributing almost 7,000 more pets.
- $350,000 to provide older adults with access to free GetSetUp online courses – a partnership which has already provided over 109,000 free online classes to 100,000-plus New Yorkers in one year. These courses continue to be accessible for older New Yorkers free of charge through our partnership page at https://www.getsetup.io/partner/NYSTATE.
- $500,000 to continue and build capacity with GoGoGrandparent, a specialized ride-sharing network that responds to the unique needs of older adults, helping to bridge transportation access.
- $400,000 for a caregiver training and support platform through Trualta that will be available free of charge to all caregivers in New York State. It offers expert-led training across critical care competencies for conditions like Alzheimer's, dementia, Intellectual and developmental disabilities, diabetes, stroke, and more. To learn more about this initiative, please join NYSOFA, the Association on Aging in New York, and Trualta for a May 25 informational session at 11 a.m. To participate, simply join us on Zoom here.
- $700,000 to provide access to ElliQ – voice-operated smart technology designed to empower independence and support for older adults with daily check-ins, assistance with wellness goals, physical activities, and more.
- $200,000 to expand NYSOFA's partnership with the Virtual Senior Center (VSC) pioneered by Selfhelp Community Services – a one-stop platform that includes facilitator-led classes, one-on-one video calls for social or telehealth visits, curated links to the internet and games, recorded content and materials, and direct connection to technological assistance.
Please look for further information in the coming weeks about how your organization and community can participate in these initiatives or continue to do so.
Other Age-Friendly Initiatives
The Hochul Administration’s work to support older adults is about more than any one agency’s efforts. The needs and concerns of older adults span across several domains – from health care services to housing, transportation, and community development – which is why NYSOFA is continuing to analyze the final budget initiatives that support older adults across state agencies and programs. In the interim, we are highlighting a few important initiatives:
- An historic $20 billion in multi-year healthcare investments, including $1.2 billion dedicated to frontline healthcare worker bonuses, as well as a $4.5 billion multi-year investment in healthcare payment reform. Other landmark investments include $2.4 billion being directed to improving healthcare infrastructure and $3.9 billion in funding to provide aid to hospitals struggling financially from the COVID-19 pandemic. Another $7.7 billion will be spent over four years to increase the home care worker minimum wage by $3.
- A $25 billion, five-year housing plan that tackles systemic inequities by creating and preserving 100,000 affordable homes, including 10,000 homes with support services for vulnerable populations. This includes $300 million for senior housing to help older New Yorkers age in place.
- A new property tax relief credit: the Homeowner Tax Rebate Credit for eligible low- and middle-income households, as well as eligible older adult households. Under this program, basic School Tax Relief (STAR) exemption and credit beneficiaries with incomes below $250,000 and Enhanced STAR recipients are eligible for the property tax rebate, where the benefit is a percentage of the homeowners' existing STAR benefit.
- To increase coverage and affordability for older adults, the enacted state budget raises the Medicaid income limit for New Yorkers 65 and up and for those with disabilities to 138% of the federal poverty level, raises the income limit for the Medicare Savings Program, and expands coverage for undocumented individuals 65 and up.
- $250 million in funding to eliminate pandemic-related utility arrears for low-income households, and reduce all other household arrears that accumulated during the pandemic. This program is in addition to an estimated $100 million to be paid through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) to reduce utility arrears.
- An investment of over $1 billion in the ConnectALL initiative — the largest ever investment in New York's 21st century infrastructure — leveraging public and private investments to connect New Yorkers in rural and urban areas statewide to broadband and establish the first municipal broadband program of its kind in the nation.
NYSOFA will soon provide further updates on the budget, including further developments or information sessions on some of our core initiatives.