Gillibrand’s Comprehensive Plan Provides Pathway to Food Security, Independence, and Social Connection;
Senator Gillibrand Has Convened Leaders 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 St. Regis Mohawk Tribe Senior Center 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 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.”
“Our mission at the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe Office for the Aging is to provide exc/ellent service to seniors by promoting: health, happiness, an active lifestyle, engagement, independence, and long life,” said Lora Lee La France, Director of SRMT OFA. “On a day to day basis we see how the challenges Senator Gillibrand discusses impact elders in our community. A Master Plan for Aging at both the State and Federal level will us help meet the needs elders have today, but also ensure future generations of elders a choice of dependable and affordable services that meet their needs.”
“As the cost of living continues to increase due to inflation, my office receives calls every day from older New Yorkers who are worried about making ends meet because their Social Security benefits no longer cover their monthly expenses,” said Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay Lake). “No one should have to worry about putting food on their tables or heating their homes, but my colleagues and I can only do so much at the state level. We need help from our federal partners to increase funding for programs like Meals on Wheels and homecare services and expand Social Security. I appreciate Senator Gillibrand’s advocacy for older New Yorkers, and I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Gillibrand on her Master Plan on Aging.”
“Our aging population deserves the highest possible quality of life,” said NYS Senator Dan Stec. “From affordable housing and health care to financial security, it’s vital that lawmakers ensure our seniors have access to the resources and support they need and deserve. That way, they can continue to live and work in our state and can remain a valued, beloved part of our communities.”
“Older adults are very important to their families and communities in a variety of ways, economically, socially and intellectually. NYSOFA applauds Senator Gillibrand’s leadership at the federal level to establish a visionary nationwide roadmap of opportunities and supports for all people as they age,” said New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) Director Greg Olsen. “This nationwide plan demands coordination at all levels of government. I encourage other states across the country to endorse Senator Gillibrand’s plan and follow New York’s example by likewise developing a state Master Plan for Aging with complementary goals, objectives, and commitments as we collectively fulfill our shared responsibility in making the United States a truly age-friendly nation.”
“The Association on Aging in New York applauds Senator Gillibrand for her dedication and passion for older new Yorkers and their families. Senator Gillibrand has been an unwavering supporter of programs and services that maintain individuals in homes and communities, while ensuring individuals are able to age with autonomy, dignity and respect. On behalf of the Area Agencies on Aging, we extend our wholehearted support of the work being done by Senator Gillibrand on a national level to ensure New York continues to be a leader in aging services.” –Becky Preve, Executive Director, Association on Aging that was submitted as a statement from the Association
“Through a federal master plan on aging, we will strengthen our efforts and resources to allow older adults to successfully age in place,” said Michelle Breen, Director of Franklin County Office for the Aging. “I would like to thank Senator Gillibrand for her advocacy and commitment to helping our older adults.”
“Senator Gillibrand’s Master Plan on Aging will improve the lives of 26,000 senior citizens in St. Lawrence County alone,” stated Andrea Montgomery, Director of the St. Lawrence County Office for the Aging. “Older Americans in this rural, impoverished part of the country deserve the right to age in place, which is impossible to do without affordable home healthcare. We applaud every aspect of her plan, especially ensuring that social security continues to be an option to provide a living wage that gives seniors choice in how they want to live.”
A full 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 (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 Act.
· 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 of 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 are 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. Keepingtelehealth 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 about 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 ensures 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 an average of $2,400 a year, increase the Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) and would 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:
o Centralize services for consumer education and data on scams and fraud targeting older adults.
o Improve reporting of suspected instances of elder financial abuse.
o Educate certain entities regarding elder financial abuse.
o Create a grant program to prevent mail, telemarketing, and internet fraud.
o Direct the National Institutes of Health to conduct scientific research on older adults’ increased vulnerability to scams; and
o Designate a National Senior Fraud Awareness Week (March)
· Promoting Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) guidance on frauds/scams involving peer-to-peer apps: The letter highlights testimony the Aging Committee received in September regarding the growing impact of these scams on older adults.
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 Worker Bill of Rights Act, Senator Gillibrand’s billwhich would shore establish overdue rights for domestic workers, including home health aides, at the national level. It would:
o Fill in key gaps in employment protections.
o Build on state innovations to create workplace protections specific to domestic work.
o Provide tailored protections for the most vulnerable and trafficked workers.
o Ensure that federal agencies competently support and protect domestic workers.
o Commission research to better protect and stabilize this workforce.
o Invest in the stability and expansion of this workforce.
o Support innovative new worker education and empowerment models.
o Address employers’ needs.
5. Investing in Aging Friendly Spaces and Employment: More than 30% of Americans over age 65 and over 50% of those over age 75 have a disability. In addition, workers over the age of 55 represent a huge and essential segment of the American economy; by 2030, 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 Senior Corps program at the Corporation for National and Community Service in FY23. The letter urges funding increases for the Senior Companion program ($4.3 million increase to $58.7 million total), Foster Grandparent program ($9 million increase to $131 million total) and RSVP program ($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 Reduction Act (IRA) and delivered on longtime democratic priorities to help older Americans, including:
o Extension of the enhanced Affordable Care Act premium subsidies
o Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices
o 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 Act (ARPA): Senator Gillibrand helped secure key provisions from her Health Force, Resilience Force, and Jobs to Fight COVID-19 Act in the ARPA, 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 force as contact tracers, COVID testers, and more.
· American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA): Senator Gillibrand helped pass the ARPA, which included:
o Nearly $12.7 billion towards home and community-based services.
o $145 million in funding for the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP)
o $500 million towards strike teams to support staffing shortages in nursing homes
o $200 million towards technical assistance in nursing homes on infection control