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LeadingAge NY Calls for Health Equity for Older Adults in 1115 Waiver Comments

In the annual public forum on the State's Medicaid 1115 Waiver and in written comments, LeadingAge NY called for equity for older adults. The association's comments highlighted the lack of attention to the needs of older adults under the recently approved waiver amendment – entitled the NY Health Equity Reform (NYHER) Waiver. Although older adults are the state's fastest-growing demographic group, the waiver does little to address the unique needs of older adults, especially those who need long-term care services.

LeadingAge NY's comments noted that the waiver’s menu of Health-Related Social Needs (HRSN) services lacks services targeted for older adults, who generally do not need connection to employment or education, but often need connections to programs that address social isolation, fall prevention, bill paying, and abuse prevention. Although the waiver includes housing-related supports, it does not include resident assistant programs in affordable independent senior housing – a model proven to save Medicare and Medicaid dollars, while prolonging health and independence in the community.

Similarly, the waiver invests $646 million in the Career Pathways Training (CPT) program to develop health care personnel in 14 job titles, but it does not appear to allow these funds to be used for the development of home health aides or certified nurse aides – an omission that is startling given the high demand for workers with these titles. In addition, the waiver invests $2.2 billion in Medicaid-dependent safety net hospitals and $492 million in primary care, but it fails to invest in long-term care, notwithstanding the growing population of older adults and the shrinking capacity of the state's long-term care system.

LeadingAge NY's written comments are here, and more information about the 1115 Waiver amendment is here.

Contact: Karen Lipson, klipson@leadingageny.org