Press Release: New York State’s Major Senior Advocacy Organizations Call for Paid Family Leave

Legislation Would Improve Health Outcomes for Seniors, Allow New Yorkers Time to Care for Ill & Aging Parents without Financial Ruin

 In Letter to Governor and State Legislature, AARP Joins Major Senior Care Groups to Urge Immediate Action

Albany, NY – As part of a growing coalition calling for the passage of paid family leave, New York’s major senior advocacy organizations signed a letter to the Governor and State Legislature urging the immediate passage of the Paid Family Leave Insurance Act. Signing on to the letter are AARP New York, the New York Statewide Senior Action Council, and the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans.

“No daughter should have to choose between keeping a roof over her head and being able to care for a seriously ill parent,” the letter reads. Without paid leave, family caregivers are forced to worry about making ends meet while caring for loved ones, including ill and aging parents.

“Families across the state are suffering without access to paid family leave,” the letter continues. “12 percent of private sector workers, and only 5 percent of the lowest wage workers, receive paid family leave from their employers. This forces a tremendous number of workers across New York to take unpaid leave, risk job loss, and suffer a huge financial toll when these major life events occur.”

“Caring for a loved one should not mean that you lose money or jeopardize your employment. Caregivers provide the majority of all long term care in this state and should not be penalized for it,” said Beth Finkel, State Director of AARP in New York State.

“New Yorkers should not be forced to make the impossible choice between caring for family members and earning a living. That’s why paid family medical leave is so important, especially for the more than four million family caregivers who save New York $32 billion annually in costs for long-term care. It’s time for New York to provide a benefit that helps these families when they need to care for a seriously ill loved one,”
said Maria Alvarez, Executive Director, NY Statewide Senior Action Council.

“The 440, 000 members of the NYS Alliance for Retired Americans are proud to sign on to this letter in support of the passage of paid family leave legislation (S.3004 and A3870) in New York State. Through the implementation of paid family leave, senior citizens can be secure in the knowledge that their family can assist in caring for an ill or dying parent without having to make the choice between that parent and financial ruin. Not only is it the right thing to do and makes economic sense, but it would require no new fiscal demands on business or the government.  A modest increase in the employee contribution to the already existing Temporary Disability Insurance program would fully fund the legislation. It seems to be a no brainer for New York to continue its heritage of being in the forefront of changes that enable workers to put family first by passing paid family leave NOW,” said Barry A. Kaufmann, President of the New York State Alliance for Retired Americans.

“Passage of paid family leave is an important component of policies that enable older persons to remain living in the home and community of their choice with the help of their caregivers,” said Mike Burgess, Former Director of the New York State Office of the Aging.

“The Cuomo administration’s Medicaid Redesign Team made paid family leave one of its top recommendations this past year, citing the critically important role employed adults play as caregivers – especially to our aging population – and the potential for better health outcomes and Medicaid savings,” said Nancy Rankin, Vice President for Policy Research at Community Service Society, and a member of the Medicaid Redesign Team. “Family caregivers are essential for helping with post-discharge care, navigating transitions and preventing avoidable readmissions.”

The letter comes on the heels of other major events showing the groundswell of support around paid family leave. Last week, lawmakers joined New Yorkers to deliver thousands of postcards calling for paid family leave to the Governor and Senate leadership. Vigils in Albany and Buffalo drew dozens of faith and labor leaders, and during lobby days, families and advocates met with State Senators to build support for the bill’s passage. Strategy meetings were held in seven cities across the state, where labor and community leaders identified local actions to mobilize citizens.

The Paid Family Leave Insurance Act (A.3870 Nolan/S.3004 Addabbo), which passed the Assembly in March, would provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave to bond with a new child, care for a seriously ill family member, and deal with issues that arise when a family member is called to active military service.

The paid family leave insurance benefit is entirely employee-paid, through small payroll deductions that start at just 45 cents and rise to roughly 88 cents a week over four years. The law does not create a new administrative requirement, but rather expands New York’s existing Temporary Disability Insurance program (TDI) through a small increase in premiums that would continue to be shared by employers and employees, as they are now. The legislation would also raise the TDI benefit for the first time in 26 years.

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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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