NYS Assembly
on Aging

Sheldon Silver, Speaker • Jeffrey Dinowitz, Chair • Fall 2007
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz
Message from the Chair

I am delighted to report to you the actions of the Assembly Committee on Aging. For the past several years, the committee on Aging has thrived under the leadership of Assemblyman Steve Englebright. I am honored that Speaker Silver has trusted me to build on previous accomplishments by this committee by naming me as chairman in June of this year.

In my thirteen years in the Assembly, I have been exposed to the many issues that confront senior citizens including fair housing practices, quality health care, accessibility, transportation, and many other issues. In my new capacity as chairman of this extremely important committee, I am looking forward to improving the day to day life of our seniors to ensure that their golden years truly do shine.

Governor Eliot Spitzer and the legislature continue to recognize the need to provide services to senior citizens throughout our state. The 2007-2008 Executive Budget allocates more that $365 million to the State Office for the Aging, which provides essential services for seniors ranging from reducing the burden of prescription drug costs, ensuring that seniors have access to medical coverage and/or long term care, and many other programs that aim to improve the quality of life for all seniors.

By the year 2025, it is projected that there will be 4.4 million New Yorkers 60 years of age and older. For the first time in our history, we will have two very large generations of senior citizens in our state. I am extremely excited to have this opportunity to craft new policies and expand existing programs to meet the needs of seniors statewide. I am proud to report to you the successes we have already enjoyed and the numerous tasks we hope to accomplish in the future.

Jeffrey Dinowitz
Chairman, Committee on Aging

2007-2008 Budget

The Assembly Majority led, by Speaker Sheldon Silver, is strongly committed to providing quality services to senior citizens. Accordingly, we fought to increase funding in the budget to provide essential services to elderly New Yorkers.

The 2007-08 budget allocated $808 million for the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program to ensure that more than 372,000 senior citizens receive prescription drug insurance. Beginning July 1, 2007 seniors enrolled in EPIC who qualify for Medicare Part D will be mandated to enroll in Medicare Part D. Also, the budget called for a $1 million increase in funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to over $19 million. The SNAP program provides home delivered meals to over 160,000 frail elderly New Yorkers each year and serves as a lifeline for many of our most vulnerable citizens.

In addition, we have recognized that the crushing burden of local property taxes has forced too many senior citizens out of their homes. It has been shown that keeping seniors in their own homes ensures better health, higher levels of activity, and increased cognitive function. The Legislature authorized a three year property tax relief plan under the School Tax Relief Program (STAR) which is expected to grow from $3.6 billion to $5.1 billion in 2007 and will provide over $6 billion in relief over the next three years. Enhanced STAR for seniors will reflect continuation of the cost of living adjustment provided in the current fiscal year resulting in $48 million in additional STAR relief for senior citizens.


Alzheimer’s Disease
Coordinating Council

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, every 72 seconds someone in America develops Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common dementia, accounting for 50 to 70 percent of cases whose primary symptom pattern begins with short term memory loss, confusion, disorganized thinking, impaired judgment, and disorientation. Thirteen percent, or one in eight, persons 65 and over have Alzheimer’s disease.

These alarming statistics have encouraged the Legislature to create a Coordinating Council for Services related to Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias to facilitate interagency planning for the provision of services, determine best practices for Alzheimer’s providers, specifically in identifying at-risk individuals, and the formulation of a comprehensive state policy relating to Alzheimer’s disease.

This interagency council will be comprised of the Department of Health, the Office for the Aging, the Office of Children and Family Services, the Department of Education, the Office of Mental Health, and members of the service provider community to develop best clinical practices for those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease as well as a comprehensive state policy on how to effectively handle this disease.

Assemblyman Dinowitz Celebrates Grandparents Day

On September 9, 2007, Assemblyman Dinowitz participated in the 28th annual celebration of American Grandparents at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale in the Bronx. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter created National Grandparents Day, which is to be held the first Sunday after Labor Day each year to celebrate the familial and societal contributions of Grandparents.

Assemblyman Dinowitz said “Grandparents have witnessed and celebrated the innovations, cultural developments and achievements of this country, while contributing to the growth of excellence of this great Empire State.” He added that “grandparents continue to bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the increasingly active roles they play in today’s society; they serve as our tie to the past, to the events and beliefs that so strongly affect our lives and the world around us.”


Assemblyman Dinowitz presented a proclamation commemorating this event and thanked grandparents throughout New York for their continued achievements.

(Left to Right): Daniel A. Reingold President & CEO of the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, Congressman Eliot Engel, New York City Council Member Oliver Koppell, Betty Casiano New York Grandparent of the Year award winner, and Rose Gottlieb Hebrew Home Grandparent of the Year award winner.

News for Senior Tenants

Income limitations for the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program (SCRIE) changed as of July 1, 2007, thanks to enabling legislation passed in the Assembly. That means if your lease is up after July 1 you can get your rent frozen if you reside in a rent stabilized or rent controlled apartment or a Mitchell-Lama, you are at least 62 years old, your rent is at least a third of your household income and your income is $27,000 or less. If you think you are eligible for the SCRIE program, contact your local Assembly member and they will help you with the paperwork.

Assembly Holds Hearings on
Geriatric Chemical Dependence Act

The Assembly Committees on Aging and Alcoholism and Drug Abuse held a joint hearing to gather information on the issue of Geriatric Chemical Dependence in New York City. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), substance abuse, particularly of alcohol and prescription drugs, among adults 60 and older is one of the fastest growing health problems facing the country. Currently 1.7 million Americans over the age of 50 are addicted to drugs and by the year 2020 that number is expected to increase to 4.4 million.

Assemblyman Steven Englebright and I co-sponsored the Geriatric Chemical Dependence Act, which would have created a demonstration program to provide education, prevention, and treatment programs for seniors’ only substance abuse programs. Unfortunately, Governor Spitzer vetoed this bill, as did his predecessor.


As a result, we held a hearing to determine what approach the legislature should take in addressing this hidden epidemic among the elderly. Testimony was offered by the New York State Office for the Aging (SOFA), the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), the New York City Department for the Aging (DFTA) along with many providers of senior specific substance abuse services. We will continue monitor this issue and develop new and innovative strategies to combat this problem.

Assemblyman Dinowitz discusses legislation with colleagues at his first Aging Committee Meeting.

For Additional
Information, Contact:

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz
Chair, Committee on Aging
Room 824 LOB • Albany, New York 12248
518.455.5965 • dinowitzj@assembly.state.ny.us

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