Assemblyman Peter Abbate Assemblyman

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Make Sure Your End of Life Health
Care Decisions Remain Your Own

photo Assemblyman Peter Abbate speaking with seniors about the importance of a health care proxy
Whether to accept or reject medical care in an end of life situation is a very personal decision governed by one’s own beliefs. Should a serious accident or illness leave you unable to communicate those wishes, it is necessary to take steps to ensure that they are honored. In New York State, that means having a living will or health care proxy. We all remember the emotional case of Terri Schiavo and how that showed us what can happen when an individual’s wishes are not spelled out.

A health care proxy and living will are similar in that they both clarify what to do only when you lack the capacity to make your own medical decisions. A health care proxy empowers a loved one to make medical decisions for you whereas a living will is specific written instructions describing your medical wishes in detail – usually crafted by and left with your attorney. You can use these documents in tandem so your health care agent has greater guidance for what you would want in specific medical situations.

If you prefer a loved one to make decisions for you, the New York State Health Care Proxy Law allows you to appoint a competent adult as your health care agent. It is important to note that you must specifically document your wishes about life-sustaining artificial nutrition and hydration or your health care agent will not be able to make these decisions for you. A health care proxy can be filled out easily without a lawyer, and becomes legally binding after you and two witnesses’ sign it. If at any time you change your mind about your end of life wishes, it is important to amend your health care proxy or living will.

Once you complete a health care proxy, hospitals, doctors and other health care providers must follow your agent’s decisions as if they were your own. The health care proxy will not only help ensure your wishes will be carried out, but also eliminates any conflict or confusion among your loved ones.

Please contact my office if you need a Health Care Proxy form.

Senior Citizen
Benefit Programs

The following is a listing of important benefit programs of which you may or may not be aware. The list is designed to provide you with the basic information about a particular program and where you can find out more about it. If you are not sure which agency to turn to, or if you need additional assistance, please call my office.

Medicare Part D
Prescription Drug Coverage

Benefits: Covers brand name and generic prescription drugs.

Eligibility: Everyone with Medicare is eligible, regardless of income and resources, health status, or current prescription expenses.

Enrollment: Annually between November 15 and December 31 (penalty to sign up at other times).

Contact: Social Security Administration (1-800-772-1213) or NYC Department of Aging (212-341-3200).

Access-A-Ride (AAR)

Benefits: Provides transportation for people with disabilities who are unable to use public transportation. Offers shared ride, door-to-door service.

Eligibility: Disabled riders.

Contact: NYC Transit (1-877-337-2017).

Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE)

Benefits: Relief from obligation to pay rent increases; landlord is compensated by reduction in real estate taxes.

Eligibility: Persons 62+ who live in rent-controlled, Mitchell-Lama, rent stabilized apartments whose rent is 1/3 of their income or more not including air conditioning, auxiliary services and utility charges.

Income Limits: Combined total household income from all sources must be less than $27,000, including Social Security Income.

Contact: NYC Department of Aging (212-442-1000) or 311.

Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC)

Benefits: Cuts prescription drug costs.

Eligibility: NY state residents over 65 must meet income guidelines. Not eligible if receiving full Medicaid benefits.

Income Limits: Fee Plan if single and income is $20,000 or less, or married and joint income is $26,000 or less. Deductible Plan if single and income is between $20,001-$35,000 or married and joint income is between 26,001-$50,000.

Contact: EPIC Helpline (1-800-332-3742).

Reduced Fare

Benefits: Reduced fare on city buses and subways at all times.

Eligibility: Persons 65+ and disabled riders. Must have either Reduced Fare Metro Card or Medicare Card.

Contact: NYC Transit (718-243-4999) or 311.

Senior Citizen Homeowners Exemption (SCHE)

Benefits: Sliding scale real estate tax exemption of 5% to 50% - renewable every second year.

Eligibility: Real estate owners, including co-op and condo owners, 65+, who use the property as their primary residence. Those who qualify will automatically receive the Enhanced STAR exemption.

Income Limits: Combined total income from all sources must be less than $34,400. If you have documented un-reimbursed medical and prescription expenses they can be deducted.

Contact: NYC Department of Finance (212-504-4080).

Peter Abbate’s
District Offices

8500 18 Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11214
(718) 236-1764

6419 11 Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11219
(718) 232-9565