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Progress for Elderly, Nursing Home Residents from Recent State Lawmaking Session

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Several measures passed during recent Albany legislative session will benefit nursing home residents and other seniors.

The state legislative session that just ended provided some benefits for older New Yorkers -- in spite of, or because of -- the COVID pandemic, at least in the eyes of one senior advocacy organization. AARP New York officials say several measures will help improve nursing home care.

Associate Director for Advocacy Kristen McManus says a new law that mandates at least one family member or caregiver can get into see a patient will improve outcomes.

“We know that social isolation is about as dangerous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. So allowing the residents of nursing home to be able to connect again with their families is crucial.”

Advocates also fought for and secured more funding int eh state budget for an ombudsman program within nursing homes to help patients with care and complains who don’t have a loved one to help. Another provision in the budget is further expected to improve care. McManus explains, for the first time a ratio is in place regarding care and income.

“They’ll have to spend 70% of what they take in on direct care and we didn’t have a threshold like that before. So that’s making sure there is a focus going directly toward the patient and it’s putting patients over profits.”

McManus adds they had hoped to win more funding for programs that can help retirees stay at home, instead of needed a managed care facility. Still $8-million more will be spent on meal programs and other in-home care. Finally, the Secure Choice retirement savings program was signed into law after years of lobbying for it.

“What this does is it sets up a state-facilitated retirement savings program. It’s essentially a Roth IRA that the employer will connect the employees to through their paychecks s they can save directly for their retirement … in their own retirement savings account.”

McManus notes 3.5 million new Yorkers don’t have any retirement savings vehicle at work.