What AARP Hopes Gov. Cuomo's State of the State Message Holds for 50+ Voters

Jan 07, 2014, 16:07 ET from AARP New York

Statement by Beth Finkel, Director for AARP in New York State:

ALBANY, N.Y., Jan. 7, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "Tomorrow, in his State of the State address, Governor Cuomo has the opportunity to lay out his plan on behalf of the most powerful voting demographic in New York: 50+ voters. AARP hopes his message addresses some of their key concerns. 

"Many of our state's 50+ are struggling; many worry about being able to afford New York's second-highest-in-the-nation utility bills, which continue to soar. The 50+ are struggling to care for aging loved ones as New York moves from a caregiving crisis toward a caregiving disaster.  These issues are the bread and butter of the kitchen table economies of many New Yorkers 50 and older.

"While AARP applauds Governor Cuomo for turning deficit into surplus, modest investments would not only help caregivers and the frail elderly but also save taxpayers money - and avert a looming disaster as an aging population shrinks the number of available caregivers and expands the ranks of those needing care.

"A looming demographic shift gives a harsh glimpse into the future: people caring for aging relatives may not have anyone to care for them. This heightens the need to fix our state's long-term care approach with a focus on caregivers and the home- and community-based services that allow New Yorkers to age in the setting of their choice, with independence and dignity - while saving the state money. A $26 million down payment to ensure in-home, non-medical services for all older New Yorkers who need them would keep thousands out of nursing homes and emergency rooms. In addition, a 'navigator' to help New Yorkers find available services for their aging loved ones would also help ease the strain on caregivers, allow older New Yorkers to age at home, and spare taxpayers the huge Medicaid expenses of institutional care.

"An AARP survey found over 90 percent of New Yorkers favor more funding for home- and community-based services to help people stay in their homes and communities as they age – and showed more than half of New Yorkers expect to be caregivers themselves in the next five years.

"We urge the Governor to follow the advice of his own Moreland Commission by proposing an independent utility consumer advocate office, as 40 other states already have. A 2013 AARP survey found three quarters of New Yorkers support such an office – and feel residential ratepayers aren't adequately represented when rate hikes are proposed. A separate AARP survey showed 80 percent are concerned about their heating and cooling bills increasing – with good reason, since they already pay the highest average rates in the continental United States. While we commend the Governor for proposing a speedier phase-out of the 18A utility surcharge, there's much more to be done. Residential ratepayers need a level playing field to compete with well-funded utilities when regulators decide on rate increases.

"AARP applauds Governor Cuomo for planning positive initial steps, including a 'circuit breaker' to provide property tax relief according to need, and rent subsidies for the many 50+ struggling to pay the landlord.

"Now is the time to get it right. AARP looks forward to working with the Governor and state lawmakers to do just that for the 50+ population, working to make this state a great place to live, work and age for all age groups."

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AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services.  A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world's largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en Español, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity of AARP that is working to win back opportunity for struggling Americans 50+ by being a force for change on the most serious issues they face today: housing, hunger, income and isolation. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org.