Calendar of Upcoming Advocacy and Education Events

April 30 Albany Guardian Society sponsors the Village Movement:  Current Efforts in the Capital District, Carondolet Hospitality Center, Latham

May 5 Lobby Day to support Single payer “Medicare for All” health legislation A5062/S3525, Empire State Plaza, Meeting Rooms 2,3  Albany,

May 5 New York State Office for the Aging  Annual Senior Citizens Day and awards

May 6 Paid Family Leave Lobby Day, Room 711 Legislative Office Building, Albany

May 7 Annual Community Elder Law Forum, sponsored by Pierro Law Firm, Century House, Latham,

May 12 New York StateWide Senior Action Council Lobby Day, Empire State Plaza Concourse, Albany

May 13  New York State Alliance for Retired Americans annual meeting, NYS United Teachers, Latham

May 14 Mercy Care for the Adirondacks Annual Education Forum, Paul Smith’s College

May 28 White House Conference on Aging regional forum Boston

June 1,2 Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) lobby days at Capitol in Albany

June  9, 10  Aging Concerns United Us annual conference, Desmond Americana Hotel, Albany

Paid Family Leave Campaign to Have April 30 Statewide Teleconference with Perez, Gillibrand

The campaign to enact Paid Family Leave in New York State gets a boost on April 30 from national leaders at an event that will shown across the state.  National Paid Family leave champions, U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand will be teleconferenced at each location to send a strong message to Albany that New York should be the next state to enact Paid Family Leave.

New York needs to pass Paid Family Leave so that workers are no longer forced to choose between economic security and caring for our families. We must #MakeNYNext!  Currenlty, New Jersey, California and Rhode Island have enacted Paid Family leave.

Please help spread the word.  Here are the locations around the state at SEIU offices where you can view the event.  For more information, contact Eric Williams at

Make NY Next: Locations

April 30th, 2015 @ 9:30AM

Albany @ 155 Washington Avenue/Albany NY 12210

Buffalo @ 2421 Main Street, Suite 100/Buffalo, NY 14214

Gouverneur @ 95 East Main Street/Gouverneur, NY 13642

Hicksville @ 100 Duffy Ave/Hicksville, NY 11801

Rochester @ 259 Monroe Ave., Suite 220/Rochester, NY 14607

Syracuse @ 250 S. Clinton Street Ste. 200/Syracuse, NY 13203

NYC @330 W. 42nd St, NY, NY

Patients, Caregivers Lagging Behind in Awareness of Rapid Health Care Changes; Hospitals Hiring Patient Satisfaction Officers

Commentary by Michael Burgess

The Affordable Care Act has introduced not only an expansion of insurance coverage to the uninsured but has launched a transformation of the entire health care system with incentives to improve outcomes and the quality of care.  Reform is literally changing the culture of doing business by hospitals, doctors and health care providers.  Payment reform is being linked to better outcomes such as reducing hospital re-admissions.

Patient satisfaction is now one of the key measures that reflects outcomes.  Hospitals have begun hiring “patient satisfaction officers” to undertake major initiatives to improve communications with patients and to solicit feedback.  In addition to the hospital experience, transformation includes better care coordination and post hospital care to prevent unnecessary re-admissions.

A key to the success of all these efforts must be the involvement patients, their families and caregivers.  Hospitals and doctors are fairly new to this “customer service” approach. And, even with the transformation underway, efforts involving patient satisfaction and communication are not as robust as those efforts actually involvement direct medical care.  Indeed it is overwhelmingly clear that the knowledge and awareness of patients, families and caregivers have not kept up with the dramatic transformations going on in health care.  Patients may have heard of the changes and received communications from providers but, by and large, “health care literacy” among patients remains low.  They do not understand, the nature of the changes and what the impact will be on them as patients and what role their families and caregivers will need to assume in care coordination.  Without this communication and understanding, health care providers run the risk of patients and families cynically thinking that all changes are tied to costs and savings rather than better coordination and outcomes.

It has been clearly shown though that more substantive change and success comes from maintaining very close and continued dialogue with patients. Health providers including doctors, hospitals and home health providers need to do more than just communicate instructions, they need to open a dialogue with patients, particularly older persons and those with limited English to understand what potential problems there are to a successful outcome. Indeed, greater communication is key to success and health providers need to work with community based groups representing patients and families  to increase their health care literacy.

Here’s a great article in the April 24 Albany Times Union on patient experience and satisfaction from Dr. Michael Brannigan of the College of St. Rose in Albany

Social Security Looms as Campaign Issue as Advocates Push Increase

Social Security advocates have stopped playing defense.  Now, they are going on offense and saying that just as the minimum wage should be hiked so should Social Security.   In fact 43 Senate Democrats went on record in mid-April to support increasing Social Security.  As the advocacy organization Social Security Works states, “Social Security expansion has gone from what many considered to be a fringe issue to being a core Democratic value along with raising the minimum wage and equal pay for equal work (both of which would strengthen Social Security in addition to being good ideas on their own).”

The divide between the parties is growing because a number of leading Republican candidates for President, especially New Jersey Governor Chris Christie are highlighting their advocacy of Social Security changes.  He advocated raising the retirement age to 69 and also to means testing the program.   Some Democrats continue to advocate raising the cap on earnings.  Currently the Social Security payroll tax is only levied on the first $118,500 of annual income meaning those with incomes above it get a tax cut in their paychecks when their annual incomes exceed that amount.  Democrats want to finance greater benefits for lower income beneficiaries with the added tax revenues generated by raising the cap.

President Obama had proposed the “chained CPI” which would have used a different measurement of inflation and would have lowered the annual increase.  He is no longer pushing this position.  Retirement security is one of four major issues to be addressed by the 2015 White House Conference on Aging this summer.

Senate Passes CARE ACT After Big AARP Lobby Effort; Assembly Next

The State Senate returned to Albany on Tuesday and passed the CARE ACT which requires hospitals to include a designated caregiver identified by a patient when they go to the hospital and for the caregiver to be given training and support for post hospital care.

The bill now goes to the Assembly where it is sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal.  Passage looks good there and the concept of the bill had the support of Governor Cuomo who included a Caregiver Support Initiative in his opportunity agenda released at the start of the legislative session.

According to AARP, “The Caregiver Advise, Record and Enable Act ensures hospital patients can designate a family caregiver and requires hospitals to offer that caregiver instruction and demonstrations of medical tasks they are being expected to provide for their loved ones at home, such as administering multiple medications, dressing wounds and operating medical equipment.”

AARP is making the bill its top legislative priority and launched a major statewide campaign that has included research, community forums, district lobbying and efforts at the State Capitol.  The issue has become more important as more and more older persons and other patients are being quickly discharged from the hospital after operations that previously would have kept them for several days.  Family caregivers in addition to home health aides are increasingly being expected to assist in providing care at home.  Care coordination is also becoming a major priority of health care transformation as Medicare and Medicaid are seeking to reduce hospital re-admissions.

To read more,  the news release is linked here.

Legislature Returns to Albany Amid Focus on Scandals

The State Legislature is returning to Albany today with nine weeks scheduled before adjournment on June 19th.  How much is accomplished in the coming weeks is very uncertain even though a number of key issues that Governor Cuomo included in his budget proposal such as the Dream Act, campaign financing reform and education tax cuts were separated from the budget for later action.  Also, the cloud of possible further scandals hangs over the Capitol with the New York Times reporting last week that Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son are being investigated by prosecutor Preet Bharrara for assisting businesses with interests before the state.  The Times also ran a major story today about some private financial dealings of new Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

There are a number of bills of interest to senior and health advocates that may be acted on in the next two months.  These include;

A3870/S3004 Assemblywoman Nolan and Senator Addabo are sponsors of the bill Paid Family Leave.  This bill passed the Assembly in March and the Senate Independent Caucus also supports it but had a different proposal in the budget that was not enacted.  The Senate Labor Committee led by Senator Jack Martins held a hearing on the issue on March 21st.
A1323-a/S676 Assemblywoman Rosenthal and Senator Hannon are sponsors of the CARE ACT pushed by AARP which requires hospitals to allow patients to designate and train a caregiver if post hospital assistance is required of them
 A4036/S2809 Assemblyman Quart and Senator Lanza are sponsors of this bill which enables pharmacies to synchronize prescriptions for the same day of the month  for patients
Other legislation to protect consumers access to prescription drugs such as restricting “step therapy” are part of the focus of an Rx lobby day next week.  Another bill of interest who strengthen efforts against financial abuse of the elderly requiring reporting of suspicious activity.  Details on these and other bills will be reported soon.

Number of Americans age 100+ Increased 93% from 1980-2012

The number of Americans who lived to age 100 has increased to over 61,985 according to the latest statistics from the Administration on Community Living of the Department of Health and Human Services.  This figure represented an increase of 93% from the 32,194 centenarians in 1980.

Here is the link to the profile on the older population from the Administration.

Current advances in health care and possible major increases in longevity resulting from cutting age research on genes are the subject of a new book, 100 Plus:  How the Coming Age of Longevity will Change Everything, from Careers and Relationships to Family and Faith.  The book is authored by Sonia Arrison, a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute.