Albany County Candidates Fight Over Senior Funding at Debate

Here is a link to the  news release from Congresswoman Nita Lowey introducing a Social Security caregiver credit held yesterday which I referenced earlier this week.

For the second time this week I am reporting on political squabbles in upstate counties over funding for senior services.   Earlier I mentioned the proposed cuts to nutrition programs in St. Lawrence County which are being debated by the County Legislature.  In Albany County on Wednesday, a debate was held with incumbent County Executive Dan McCoy and his challenger in the Democratic primary, Dan Egan who accused McCoy of failing to spend funds allocated for the EISEP (Expanded in Home Services for the Elderly Program) which provide non medical assistance to enable seniors to remain at home.  Egan created a firestorm when he said that 39 people died while on a waiting  list for these services.  McCoy was outraged with the suggestion that he was responsible for their deaths while Egan clarified later he was saying that was the impact of failing to provide the services.

Egan is being supported by Judy Coyne, the former Commissioner of the Albany County Office for the Aging, who resigned last year because of her concerns about McCoy’s failure to fund the program.  McCoy is hosting a second annual senior summit on Tuesday in Albany.  He indicates that seniors are a priority for him but that the county faced serious funding shortfalls and he had to spend large amounts of money to subsidize the county owned nursing home which has been a source of controversy for several years.

I think it is important to note that the stories from St. Lawrence and Albany counties indicate the pressure local governments face in funding senior services  while trying to live under a state property tax cap.  Senior services provided by the office for the aging are not mandated so they face the chopping block when counties scramble to cut budgets.  And, in a newspaper story this morning in the Albany Times Union, one county legislator noted that services like EISEP are not direct medical care and  would not be as high a priority as direct medical care like Medicaid dollars.  Of course, supporters of senior services continue to argue that providing support for seniors at home saves money by keeping people at home and avoiding Medicaid for many.

Albany County Democrats will vote on September 10 to decide between Egan and McCoy which pits Egan from the more progressive wing of the party against McCoy who is endorsed by the county party.  There have been no public polls but McCoy has a strong money advantage though Egan and his family are long time political leaders in Albany with his father being a former Commissioner for Governors Mario Cuomo, Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson.

Please let us know if similar issues are being struggled with in your area.

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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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