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NYS Assembly
Committee on

Sheldon Silver, Speaker • Jeffrey Dinowitz, Chair • Spring 2008
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz
Message from the Chair

Dear Friend:

I am pleased to share with you the work of the Assembly Committee on Aging this year. In a year filled with both excitement and difficult circumstances, I am pleased to report to you that the Assembly’s commitment to the senior citizens of New York State remains strong and unwavering.

Since my appointment as Chairman of the Committee on Aging last year by Speaker Sheldon Silver, I have had the opportunity to learn about issues that directly impact the lives of seniors. Issues such as health, long-term care, retirement, prescription drug coverage, housing, and the rigors of day-to-day living of seniors are more apparent to me now than ever before and I, along with my Assembly colleagues, remain committed to addressing these issues and improving the quality of life for the seniors of today and the seniors of tomorrow.

I look forward to meeting upcoming challenges and hope we can tackle them together.

Jeffrey Dinowitz
Chairman, Assembly Committee on Aging

photo Left to Right: Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, Assemblyman Mike Gianaris, Senior Citizen of the Year Award Winner Eartha Washington, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, and New York State Office for the Aging Director Michael Burgess at Senior Citizens Day in Albany
Assembly Selects
Senior Citizen of the Year

On May 6, 2008, the New York State Office for the Aging celebrated Senior Citizens Day in Albany, New York. Each year, the Assembly Committee on Aging Committee presents a special award at the Senior Citizens Day celebration. This year, I had the honor of presenting the Senior Citizen of the Year Award to Eartha Washington of Astoria, New York.

Mrs. Washington is a tireless advocate for senior citizens in her community. As a member of the Advisory Council for the New York City Department for the Aging, Mrs. Washington has assisted in the delivery of a variety of senior services in Queens and throughout New York City. In 2006, Mrs. Washington also won the Community Police Council PSA9 Award for service to senior citizens in public housing in Queens. She was also the recipient of the Rodman Senior Citizen Council Service Award for service to seniors in Brooklyn.

I would like to again congratulate Mrs. Washington on her accomplishments and wish her good health and continued service to her community in the future.

photo Left to Right: Charlie Battaglia, co-chair of the Education Committee of the Network in Aging; Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak; Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz; Laura Mondello, President of the Network in Aging; Assemblyman Joe Giglio; and Greg Olsen, Deputy Director of the New York State Office for the Aging at the Western New York Aging Summit

Assemblyman Dinowitz Visits Western New York Seniors

As chair of the Aging Committee, it is my responsibility to advocate for the needs of seniors throughout the state of New York. Programs that may be beneficial to seniors in New York City or Albany may not be feasible in Western New York. It is important for me to see for myself the conditions that affect seniors in all parts of the state to effectively develop policies that positively impact their lives.

This winter I had the pleasure of attending the Western New York Aging Summit in Cheektowaga, New York. I had the honor of addressing the more than 200 attendees and was able to hear their needs in order to adequately address their concerns.

The issue of transportation in the expanse of Western New York is crucial to meet the goal of keeping seniors in their homes. Also, access to appropriate specialized care for seniors is essential to ensure their continued health and well-being in New York State. To meet these goals, the Assembly was proud to support the Governor’s “Doctors Across New York” program, which would provide incentives of up to $150,000 for primary care physicians or specialists who agree to serve for five years in medically underserved areas.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and Assemblywoman Joan Millman discuss legislation at an Aging Committee meeting
Budget Highlights

The 2008-2009 executive budget process was the most tumultuous of my tenure as an elected official. The declining fiscal condition of our state required that we prioritize our spending for the upcoming fiscal year. While we did not get everything that we wanted to in the budget, seniors in New York should not feel that their needs were neglected. Some of the budget highlights include:

  • The $500,000 for the creation of a new Enriched Social Adult Day Services Demonstration Program to enable seniors to live in their community and delay institutionalization

  • A full restoration of $85 million of rebasing transition funding and $15 million in state funds to support nursing home recruitment and retention

  • An additional $1 million in transportation assistance to Area Agencies on Aging

  • $475,000 for the creation of new Caregiver Centers for Excellence to provide assistance to and develop strategies for informal and family caregivers

  • $260,000 in additional funds for Social Adult Day Services

Legislative Highlights

The Assembly Aging Committee advanced a number of excellent bills for consideration by this Assembly. These proposals include:

  • A.947-D (Englebright)- Establishes a county real property tax abatement for property owners 60 years of age or older who participate in volunteer programs

  • A.1191 (Pheffer)- Raises the eligibility of income level for the Senior Citizens Rent Increase Exemption Program to $30,000 and ties future income increases to the rate of inflation

  • A.5564-A (Englebright)- Establishes an intergenerational educational and mentoring service program to provide assistance to students in elementary schools

  • A.9846 (Dinowitz)- Broadens the Geriatric Service Demonstration Program to include older adults with mental health disabilities and chemical dependence

  • A.9905-A (Dinowitz)- Directs the Superintendent of the State Police to develop policies and educational materials relating to abuse of adults

  • A.10011 (Dinowitz)- Relates to the provision of services under a naturally occurring retirement community supportive services program

  • A.10316-A (Dinowitz)- Establishes the Senior Dental Services Grant Program to enable providers to offer dental services to seniors in need

  • A.10436-C (Kavanagh)- Expands volunteerism by making use of the databases of statewide aging organizations

  • A.10465-A (Lifton)- Authorizes the director of the Office for the Aging to establish a long term care worker training program

  • A.10470-A (Dinowitz)- Requires an evaluation of the Bronx Senior Options Program prior to any further modernization or consolidation of services by the New York City Department for the Aging

  • A.10474 (Dinowitz)- Establishes a Senior Housing Task Force for the purpose of conducting a statewide assessment of senior housing needs over the next 10-15 years

  • A.11245-A (Kellner)- Requires the state Office for the Aging to report on the delivery of services to and needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender older adults in their annual report to the governor

Committee on Aging Public Hearings

For the committee process to function appropriately, it is important for us to constantly solicit input from seniors and members of the senior service provider community. This year the Assembly Aging Committee held a number of public hearings across New York State to examine issues that impact the lives of our seniors. Public hearing topics this year included:

  • Elder Abuse: The Aging and Judiciary Committees conducted two hearings, one in Rochester and one in New York City, to examine the prevalence of elder abuse in communities throughout New York. Issues of physical abuse and neglect, as well as financial exploitation, were examined. The Assembly is in the process of developing new legislation to combat this problem.

  • New York City Department for the Aging Consolidation Proposal: The Committees on Aging, Cities, and Consumer Affairs and Protection held a hearing to examine the New York City Department for the Aging’s consolidation effort in the areas of case management, home-delivered meals, and senior centers throughout the five boroughs. It is our belief that the effort has not been well planned or implemented and we were pleased that NYSOFA Director Mike Burgess and Comptroller William Thompson, as well as senior advocates from all five boroughs, offered testimony in an honest and forthright manner on this issue.

  • Geriatric Mental Health: Along with Assemblyman Peter Rivera, chairman of the Assembly Committee on Mental Health, we held a joint hearing on the status of Geriatric Mental Health Programs in our state and ways to improve their effectiveness going forward.

photo Assemblyman Dinowitz and Assemblywoman Pheffer with New York City seniors on the steps of City Hall protesting New York City’s plans for consolidation

Assemblyman Dinowitz Tells DFTA-
Don’t Shortchange New York’s Seniors

The New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA) has begun a massive consolidation of Senior Citizen services throughout New York City. To date, DFTA has consolidated all of the case-management services in all five boroughs and awarded the new contracts to less than twenty providers throughout New York City. The case management consolidation has led to the bureaucratic loss of more than 3,000 seniors in the transition period, and DFTA has decided to continue in its shortsighted course and further consolidate other services.

In 2004, DFTA consolidated seventeen home-delivered meal service contracts in the Bronx into three. The result was that homebound seniors in the Bronx went from receiving daily visits and a hot meal to receiving frozen meal deliveries twice. This program has significantly decreased the quality of life of seniors in the Bronx and DFTA plans to replicate this program throughout New York City.

The Assembly Committee on Aging has been vigorous in its opposition to New York City’s consolidation proposal and has conducted public hearings and advanced legislation to halt the City’s proposal. We sincerely hope that New York City reconsiders its plans and does not take any actions that would diminish the quality of life for seniors in New York City.

For additional information, please contact:
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz
Chair, Committee on Aging
Room 824 LOB • Albany, New York 12248 • 518.455.5965 • dinowitzj@assembly.state.ny.us
New York State Assembly
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