State budget includes funding for senior care, North Country Assemblywoman says
Monday, April 14, 2014 - 9:01 am

The new state budget includes several measures to aid in senior care and to protect patients and caregivers, according to a statement from Assemblywoman Addie Russell, D-Theresa.

It includes $5 million for the Community Services for the Elderly (CSE) program, as well as $4.1 million for the expansion of eligibility for the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program. The budget expands access to EPIC by increasing the income limit for the deductible plan from $35,000 to $75,000 for those who are single and $50,000 to $100,000 for those who are married.

The final budget rejected a proposal that would have changed the way the state’s Medicaid program reimburses pharmacies. Governor Cuomo had proposed setting the price of drugs in a manner that would have cut pharmacy revenue by more than $80 million.

This year's state spending plan establishes the Safe Patient Handling Act, which would require healthcare facilities to establish committees that design a specific program for safe patient handling. The finalized state budget calls for the implementation of the Act by certain healthcare facilities beginning on January 1, 2017.

The state budget includes $13 million to support 2-percent salary increases for direct care workers, including those caring for those with disabilities at state-licensed nonprofits. The first Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) is set for Jan. 1, 2015, and the second increase will go into effect on April 1, 2015.

To address the alarming rise in the use of opiates such as heroin, the state budget includes $2 million in increased funding to enhance services to deal with this crisis, including substance abuse treatment programs.

St. Lawrence County has seen a significant rise in opiate-related deaths and hospitalizations over the last several years, Russell's release says.