Press Release

In Binghamton, Gillibrand Champions 5-Point Master Plan On Aging To Ensure Every American Can Age With Dignity And Financial Security

Apr 15, 2023

Gillibrand’s Comprehensive Plan Provides Pathway to Food Security, Independence, and Social Connection;

Senator Gillibrand Has Convened Leaders From Across NYS to Form Her Aging Working Group; Gillibrand’s Master Plan on Aging has Been Developed in Collaboration With Its 66 Members

Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Special Committee on Aging, held a press conference at the Broome County Regional Farmers Market in Binghamton to reveal her 5-point Master Plan on Aging, which would ensure every American has the support needed to age with dignity and financial security. The Master Plan on Aging provides solutions to ensure all older Americans have the right to:

  1. Affordable and Healthy Meals
  2. Affordable Health Care and Prescription Drugs
  3. Social Security Benefits and Financial Security
  4. Age in Place
  5. Aging-Friendly Spaces and Employment

There is an urgent need for the Master Plan; the population of the United States is aging rapidly and by 2034, the number of adults age 65 and older will be greater than the number of children under 18 for the first time ever.

Senator Gillibrand’s Master Plan on Aging was shaped by a group of leaders she convened from across New York to focus on the issues affecting older New Yorkers and has been received enthusiastically by 66 leading organizations of the working group.

“When you look at how a society cares for its older adults, it gives you insight into its values. As a member of the Special Aging Committee in the Senate, I am dedicated to serving and investing in the wellbeing of our older loved ones. That’s why I convened leaders across New York to form an Aging Working Group dedicated to finding real solutions to the many challenges older Americans face – and together, we created the Master Plan on Aging,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The Master Plan on Aging has solutions to help older Americans navigate everything from housing and food insecurity to skyrocketing health care costs, insufficient retirement savings, and elder abuse. Nearly a third of the population here in Franklin County is age 50 and older, and many New Yorkers across the state are facing similar challenges. I am so proud of the work we accomplished with President Biden to reduce drug prices and improve Medicare benefits, and I’m committed to continue working to ensure that every American has the opportunity to age with dignity and financial security.”

“I’d like to thank Sen. Gillibrand for sharing the highlights of her Master Plan on Aging; it contains all of the major components needed for healthy aging. As the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, I especially appreciate her work on affordable and healthy meals. We all recognize the connection between access to high quality, locally grown food and good health at any age. Additional resources for nutrition services would go a long way toward helping seniors in particular,” said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo

“Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County (CCE-Broome) thanks Senator Gillibrand for her continued commitment to our aging community. Bringing attention to food security and assisting seniors with nutrition education through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education Program (SNAP-Ed New York ) and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) are priorities for CCE-Broome. These programs help to teach seniors how to shop for and cook healthy meals while on a limited budget. Our goal is to provide the tools, tips and tricks to educate how to make nutritious food choices within a limited budget and choose physically active lifestyles. We reach seniors at senior centers and through various group classes throughout Broome County. Without investments in these types of programs, we are not able to sustain our nutrition education programs,” said Beth Roberts, Executive Director, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County.

A list of endorsing organizations from Senator Gillibrand’s Working Group on Aging is available here.

Senator Gillibrand’s Master Plan On Aging

1. Ensuring the Right to Affordable and Healthy Meals:

  • Senator Gillibrand is fighting to increase funding for the Older Americans Act, a major federal vehicle for delivery of social and nutrition services for more than 11 million older Americans and their caregivers. Previously, Senator Gillibrand led a bipartisan push with Senator Collins (R-ME) that helped secure over $1.4 billion in funding for the OAA with $750 million specifically designated for nutrition services in the American Rescue Plan.  
  • Senator Gillibrand is also pushing to provide a pathway for nutritious meals, meal deliveries, and social connection for the 5.2 million older adults in the United States, including an estimated 7.6% of older adults in New York, who experienced food insecurity in 2020. Gillibrand partnered with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to call for $1.93 billion in FY23 funding for the OAA nutritional programs.
  • The Senior Hunger Prevention Act would ensure older adults, grandparent and kinship caregivers, and adults with disabilities are able to access the food they need and stretch their budgets.

2. Guaranteeing the Right to Affordable Health Care and Prescription Drugs: Access to affordable and reliable health care options is a challenge with disproportionate impacts on older Americans. The high cost and out-of-pocket expenses for drugs cause many Americans to delay or skip taking needed treatments. Gillibrand is pushing critical pieces of legislation to protect Medicare and make prescription drugs more affordable.

  • The Lower Drug Costs for Families Act, which would impose a penalty payment for drug price increases faster than the rate of inflation to units sold in the commercial market.
  • The Prescription Drug Price Relief Act, which would peg the price of prescription drugs in the United States to the median price in Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Japan.
  • The Affordable and Safe Prescription Drug Importation Act, which would allow patients, pharmacists and wholesalers to import safe, affordable medicine from Canada and other major countries.

Senator Gillibrand is also fighting to improve telehealth and remote patient monitoring services (RPM) options for older Americans, which became an essential form of care during the coronavirus pandemic. Coverage for some of these services is set to expire or phase out when the public health emergency formally ends. Gillibrand is fighting to pass the CONNECT for Health Act, which would expand the use of telehealth and remote patient monitoring services in Medicare on a permanent basis. Keeping telehealth options in place past temporary expansions would help tackle the issue of health equity and access for rural areas, marginalized communities, and older adults who may lack the means to access health care services.

3. Protecting Social Security and Financial Security: After decades of service and hard work, older adults should have economic security in their retirement. Today nearly 70 million people, or 1 in 5 Americans, collect Social Security benefits. Senator Gillibrand is working to protect and expand Social Security so it keeps up with fast-rising living costs and ensure that it is preserved for current retirees and generations to come. She is pushing to pass:

  • The Social Security Expansion Act, which would extend the solvency of Social Security for 75 years without raising taxes at all on over 93% of American households. It would also expand SS benefits across the board by $2,400 a year, increase the Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA), and require millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share into Social Security.
  • The Social Security Fairness Act, which would fully repeal the Government Pension Offset (GPO) to help protect Social Security survivors benefits for spouses, widows, and widowers who also receive government pensions of their own. The bipartisan bill also eliminates the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), which in some instances reduces Social Security benefits for individuals who also receive a pension or disability benefit from an employer that did not withhold Social Security taxes. 

Senator Gillibrand is also fighting to end elder abuse and put a stop to financial predators. In New York State alone, older adults are estimated to lose as much as $1.5 billion per year to financial fraud and abuse. Monetary losses due to scams continue to rise, particularly among older adults. In 2021, consumers reported more than $5.8 billion in losses to the FTC, an increase of more than 70% over the previous year. Senator Gillibrand is fighting for:

  • The Senior Financial Empowerment Act, a bipartisan bill that would help protect older adults from financial fraud. The bill is endorsed by AARP and LeadingAge and would do the following:
    • Centralize services for consumer education and data on scams and fraud targeting older adults.
    • Improve reporting of suspected instances of elder financial abuse.
    • Educate certain entities regarding elder financial abuse.
    • Create a grant program to prevent mail, telemarketing, and internet fraud.
    • Direct the National Institutes of Health to conduct scientific research on older adults’ increased vulnerability to scams.
    • Designate a National Senior Fraud Awareness Week (in March).
  • Promoting Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) guidance on frauds/scams involving peer-to-peer apps, Senator Gillibrand sent a letter to CFPB that highlights testimony the Aging Committee received in September regarding the growing impact of these scams on older adults and specifically encourages CFPB to move forward in issuing this guidance to provide better tools to protect older adults and their families.

4. Safeguarding the Right to Age in Place: The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to ensure all Americans have the option to receive quality, long-term care in the setting that best meets their needs and preferences. Over 3.5 million older adults and people with disabilities receive home or community-based care (HCBS) through Medicaid, but demand has greatly outpaced supply, with more than 650,000 Americans still on the waitlist for care. HCBS also enables older adults and people with disabilities to remain in their homes, stay active in their communities, and lead independent lives. Senator Gillibrand is fighting for:

  • The Better Care Better Jobs Act, which would build on the $12.7 billion short-term Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS) funding that passed as part of the American Rescue Plan. It would enhance Medicaid funding for HCBS and strengthen the HCBS workforce.
  • The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Act, Senator Gillibrand’s bill that would establish overdue rights for domestic workers, including home health aides, at the national level. It would:
    • Fill in key gaps in employment protections.
    • Build on state innovations to create workplace protections specific to domestic work.
    • Provide tailored protections for the most vulnerable and trafficked workers.
    • Ensure that federal agencies competently support and protect domestic workers.
    • Commission research to better protect and stabilize this workforce.
    • Invest in the stability and expansion of this workforce.
    • Support innovative new worker education and empowerment models.
    • Address employers’ needs.

5. Investing in Aging Friendly Spaces and Employment: More than 40% of Americans age 65 and older have a disability. In addition, workers over the age of 55 represent a critical segment of the American economy; by 2031, one in four U.S. workers will be 55 or older. Senator Gillibrand is fighting to protect aging friendly spaces and combat age discrimination in the workplace, including:

  • Delivering funding for the AmeriCorps Seniors program in FY24. The letter urges funding increases for the Senior Companion Program ($7.36million increase to $63.81million total), Foster Grandparent Program ($18.09 million increase to $143.45 million total) and RSVP program ($7.9 million increase to $63 million total).
  • Gillibrand is developing legislation to end the use of forced arbitration in cases of aging discrimination. The effort mirrors her successful legislation to end forced arbitration in cases of sexual harassment and assault, which changed 60 million employment contracts overnight.   
  • Gillibrand is leading efforts to address transportation, mobility, the digital divide, affordable housing, social isolation, loneliness, and bereavement. 

Senator Gillibrand’s recent efforts and wins for older adults:

  • Inflation Reduction Act and prescription drug pricing: Senator Gillibrand helped pass the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and delivered on longtime Democratic priorities to help older Americans, including:
    • Extension of the enhanced Affordable Care Act premium subsidies
    • Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices
    • Setting a new $2,000 cap for Medicare beneficiaries on annual out-of-pocket costs for drugs, plus a $35 monthly cap on insulin cost sharing·
  • Senator Gillibrand’s Health Force, Resilience Force, and Jobs to Fight COVID-19 Act in the American Rescue Plan: Senator Gillibrand helped secure key provisions from her Health Force, Resilience Force, and Jobs to Fight COVID-19 Act in the American Rescue Plan, which was signed into law in March, 2021. These provisions delivered over $7 billion of funding to bolster the public health workforce, with $3 billion going toward a new national Health Force. This funding has been used to train people to work in the health care workforce as contact tracers, COVID testers, and more.
  • American Rescue Plan: Senator Gillibrand helped pass the American Rescue Plan, which included:
    • $12.7 billion toward Medicaid home and community-based services.
    • $145 million in funding for the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP)
    • $500 million toward strike teams to support staffing shortages in nursing homes
    • $200 million toward technical assistance in nursing homes on infection control