March 30, 2012

SFY 2012-13 Budget Restores Critical Funding to EPIC and Community Based Services for the Elderly

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, Co-Chair of the Joint Conference Subcommittee on Health and Aging, and Aging Committee Chair Joan Millman, today announced that a budget agreement has been reached that includes a partial restoration of EPIC and funding for community based services for the elderly.

"As many more of our residents reach their senior years, it is more important than ever that we have programs and services that help elderly New Yorkers remain independent and living with dignity," said Silver. "Community based programs such as EISEP and CSE are cost effective and have a proven track record of delaying and preventing more costly care in hospitals and nursing homes."

"The 2012-13 state budget reflects the Assembly Majority's commitment to New York's elderly population," said Gottfried. "I am particularly pleased that we were able to successfully restore funding for EPIC co-payment assistance and maintain vital direct assistance programs that help our seniors remain at home in their communities."

"The Assembly Majority's commitment to the health and welfare of elderly New Yorkers remains strong and will not waver in the face of difficult circumstances," said Millman. "As Chair of the Committee on Aging, I have made it a priority to enhance day-to-day life for seniors by advocating for affordable health care coverage and community based services. This budget takes steps in the right direction by restoring EPIC and funding for programs such as NORCs and NNORCs, that help our seniors continue to age in place."

Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORC) and Neighborhood NORC Programs (NNORC)

NORCs and NNORCs are communities that were not originally built for seniors, but have evolved to have a significant proportion of residents 60 years or older. NORCs and NNORCs offer a broad range of social and health care services to support their residents. The state budget restores $458,000 in funding to the NORC and Neighborhood NORC programs.

Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage Co-Payment Assistance (EPIC)

EPIC helps low and moderate income seniors pay for medication costs not covered by Medicare. The state budget restores $30.6 million in funding to EPIC for assistance with Medicare Part D co-payments. Starting in 2013 seniors will once again pay between $3 and $20 for each prescription.

Spousal Refusal

Spousal refusal provides critical support for many of seniors who are struggling with the cost health care. Without spousal refusal an elderly husband or wife would have to spend down their assets and income towards an ill spouse's care until they meet the Mediciaid eligibility threshold. By maintaining spousal refusal, a husband or wife can avoid becoming impoverished in order for their spouse to receive the care they need. The state budget restores $34.3 million to maintain the right for spousal refusal in New York State.

Community Based Services

Expanded In-Home Services for the Elderly Program (EISEP) and Community Services for the Elderly Program (CSE) provide non-medical care for the elderly in their homes, including but not limited to: homemaking, housekeeping, chore services, home health services, adult day care, transportation, shopping assistance, and counseling services. The state budget provides $1.135 million for the EISEP and CSE programs to partially mitigate the reallocation of funds based on new Census data.