Older New Yorkers' Health, Security on NYS Legislative and Budget Agenda

Jan 18, 2016

Cyndie Rhodes dancing with her father who uses a wheelchair. New York State considering several proposals that could help caregivers. AARP pushing for more financial support for caregivers as well.
Credit Ackerman + Gruber / AARP.org

  Older New Yorkers have a range of things to watch regarding their health and security during this upcoming session in Albany.  AARP in New York supports a family leave proposal that would provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave.  Legislative Director Bill Ferris says it might make it easier for someone to take care of a relative at home.

“The proposal when it’s in full effect by 2021, a person would be paid a maximum benefit of up to 50% of the state’s average weekly wage.  This will certainly help, mothers and fathers and newborns, certainly help caregivers caring for an elderly person to at least have some kind of wage coming in while they perform that duty for their family.” 

The money would come from an existing payroll deduction…and is not supposed to impact businesses at all.   The group is also lobbying for caregiver support to help caring for elderly relatives at home on a longer term basis.

“And the thought there was, if we make this investment, we delay people going to nursing homes in the state. And the majority of all nursing home care in the state is financed by the Medicaid program.  So we’re trying to slow the growth of Medicaid with an investment up front for the middle class.”

AARP would like to see 50 million dollars added to the governor’s budget proposal to help home caregivers.  Finally the group supports a measure to help people’s financial security in retirement.  Ferris explains many New Yorkers don’t have any way to save through work.

“What we found in our research, over 3.5 million people do not have access to an employer-sponsored retirement savings program.  The government helped people save for college tuition, and we think the government certainly can have somewhat of a role to help people save for their own retirement, so when they do retire they don’t turn back to government for help.” 

Ferris adds people are 15 times more likely to save for retirement if they can do so at work.  Governor  Cuomo has proposed the SMART-commission – Saving More to Achieve Richer Tomorrows – in order to develop a savings program.  

FROM GOVERNOR CUOMO'S STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS ON RETIREMENT SAVINGS:

Americans face a growing retirement crisis. Nearly 40 million households in the United States do not have retirement accounts. Traditionally, retirement savings have relied upon a combination of personal savings, Social Security, and employer-sponsored retirement savings plans or pensions. However, increasing numbers of employees work for a company that does not offer a retirement plan.

Approximately 3.5 million private sector workers aged 18 to 64 in New York lack access to an employer-sponsored retirement savings program.186 Many of these workers face delayed retirements and reduced standards of living, and will be forced to rely on the state’s taxpayer-funded social safety net.

To address this growing problem and provide input into future legislation, Governor Cuomo will create the NY SMART Commission (“Saving More to Achieve Richer Tomorrows”). Carl H. McCall, Chairman of the State University of New York Board of Trustees, will chair the Commission. Chairman McCall has deep expertise in the financial sector, having served as Comptroller of the State of New York, Vice President of Citibank and Corporate Director of the New York Stock Exchange. The Commission will consist of additional experts from the financial services industry, consumer advocates, public officials, and state regulators. The Commission will partner with state agencies, financial services professionals, consumer advocates, and academics to study available options for the creation of a state-administered retirement savings program for workers whose employers do not offer a retirement plan.