News Roundup from Albany – May 21

CARE ACT – AARP and other  senior and health advocates are continuing the push to get the CARE ACT (A1323-a/S676 sponsored by Assemblywoman Rosenthal and Senator Hannon) passed in the Assembly before the legislative session ends.  It has passed the Senate.  The bill allows patients to designate a caregiver when in the hospital and also requires the hospital to provide training to caregivers who will be responsible for some post hospital care.

NYSOFA Feasibility Study on Office of Community Living – The State Office for the Aging held a webinar in which 160 participated yesterday to discuss its plans pursuant to budget language to study the development of an Office of Community Living that would coordinate programs and services for older persons currently across several agencies serving mental health, the disabled and developmentally disabled.  Boston University’s CADER center has been hired as the consultant that will be assisting the agency get community input and data on the implications of developing such an agency.  The federal government established the Office of Community Living in HHS which includes the Administration on Aging and other agencies.  Final approval of such a change would be up to the New York State Legislature.  In addition to whether this change would streamline state programs and bureaucracy, the bottom line is whether the it would actually improve services for all the populations and not dilute the Office for the Aging’s original and historic mandate to be an advocate for older New Yorkers not just on long term care issues, but on so many other areas the agency covers.   One option that should be considered to maintain this role would be to put all of the agency’s advocacy functions into an office of consumer advocate like Public Service Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman recently did to have a place for consumers to go directly.  Indeed every state agency should have an internal consumer point of contact on a high level reporting to the agency head.

DSRIP  Community Meetings– The talk of the town literally in health advocacy in New York State is “DSRIP.”   This is government speak and stands for Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment Program.  It really is a new policy in state government to re-design the delivery of health care led by coalitions of health care providers.  It emanates from an $8 billion Medicaid waiver the state received to reinvest savings into innovations.  All across the state hospitals and health care providers are receiving hundreds of millions of dollars to launch the reforms.   The purposes of the reforms are to improve care coordination, improve overall public health, and reduce hospital readmissions by 25% in the state over the next three years.  Indeed, payments to health providers are based on their success in meeting goals.

For hospitals, DSRIP is meaning a whole new orientation and way of doing business.  They now have to be fully engaged in post hospital care and work with the community based agencies which will provide the services for follow up that can help prevent re-admissions and improve care coordination.   This is where the aging network comes in.  Health providers need to fully involve and engage the aging providers and services to make sure that seniors returning home have the supports they need to improve their health.

All of these changes are happening so fast that community agencies as well as senior and health care advocates are struggling to keep up with what is happening with their local health care providers.  Many agencies also want a piece of action and want to be paid to provide needed services rather than just be mentioned in the DSRIP plan as a collaborative partner.

StateWide Senior Action Council and the Capital District Senior Issues Forum are having a community forum on how DSRIP impacts patients.  The event will be held at the Mercy Auditorium at St. Peters’s annex on Manning Boulevard in Albany on Friday, June 12 at 9:30 … Also, on DSRIP, Albany Medical Center’s DSRIP committee on consumer and community participation is meeting this afternoon.

RADIO INTERVIEW – I am going to be interviewed on Saturday morning on Siena radio station 88.3 FM “The Saint” with host Marc Kaplan.  I will be discussing Generations of New York and  health and senior advocacy issues.    Even if you are not in the Capital District you can tune in on their website at 10:00 on Saturday.

By the way, Generations of New York is this blog site but I am also developing it as a “grassroots senior advocacy resource center” that will assist in monitoring state government on health and aging issues,  advancing key issues like paid family leave, caregiving, aging in the community, or help groups do advocacy strategy or fundraising development.    Right now, I am helping with a number of groups on issues like patients rights and health care transformation, grant development and advocacy on paid family leave.  Also, this is a network for advocates so I encourage readers to submit articles to include here on the blog or be part of our “social capital” team that will assist advocacy efforts.  I have had some contact with people who are consultants or recently retired who want to take be a part of this effort to help strengthen advocacy  – Mike Burgess

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I have been a senior advocate for most of my career. I was Executive Director of the New York StateWide Senior Action Council and the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans. In 2007-2010 I was the Director of the New York State Office for the Aging

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