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Sen. Jim Seward

State Sen. Jim Seward. 

In last week’s column, I focused on several significant elements from the new state budget – record school aid, funds to help rebuild our local roads and bridges, investments in job training, and the continued roll-out of the landmark $4.2 billion Middle Class Income Tax Cut. This week I wanted to touch on a few other components of the spending plan that will have a positive impact statewide and here locally.

Building Healthier Communities

The budget includes $525 million – an increase of $100 million over the governor’s proposal - for the Health Care Facility Transformation Program to boost a new third round of awards and help ensure long-term sustainability for facilities as they adjust to the changing dynamics of health care in New York. In addition, the budget supports a variety of important public health initiatives including:

$27 million for nutritional information for Women, Infants and Children (WIC);

$27 million for Alzheimer’s and other dementia related programs;

$21 million for cancer services;

$16 million for maternal and child health programs;

$13 million for chronic disease prevention (including diabetes, asthma, and hypertension);

$11.2 million for Doctors Across New York;

$8.5 million in additional funding of the Spinal Cord Injury Research Board (SCIRB);

$5 million for crucial women’s health initiatives;

$2.5 million to support organ donation; and

$283,000 for the Adelphi New York Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline and Support Program.

Supporting New York’s Seniors

The budget reaffirms my strong commitment to a wide array of programs and initiatives that serve New York’s senior citizens so they can continue leading healthy, secure, and fulfilling lives, including funding for the following:

$50 million for the Expanded In-home Services for the Elderly Program (EISEP);

$31 million for Community Services for the Elderly Program (CSE);

$27 million for the Wellness in Nutrition Program (WIN);

$27 million for Alzheimer’s and other dementia related programs;

$250,000 for Older Adults Technology Services (OATS);

$132,000 for the Senior Action Council Hotline; and

$86,000 for the New York Foundation for Senior Citizens (NYFSC) home sharing and respite care programs.

In addition, $1.2 million was directed to support elder abuse prevention initiatives, and this year’s budget provides funding for a three-hour extension of Adult Protective Services Call Center hours as an additional resource to report suspected cases of elder abuse. The budget also makes the Residential Emergency Services to Offer Home Repairs to the Elderly (RESTORE) program permanent, and continues $1.4 million for this initiative that assists low-income, elderly homeowners eliminate unsafe conditions in their home.

This year’s budget also fully funds New York’s vital Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program at $132.6 million to help cover seniors’ prescription drug needs. It also fully funds the state’s Enhanced STAR school tax relief program for seniors, totaling $865 million.

Providing Record Support for Heroin and Opioid Abuse Prevention and Treatment

As a member of the Senate Heroin Task Force, I am extremely pleased that the budget includes $247 million - $20 million above the governor’s proposal - to continue the fight against the deadly heroin crisis.

In addition to record funding, the budget includes a senate-driven initiative to help prevent and address an increase in the number of babies born addicted to opioids. The budget creates a new program and provides $1 million to further educate and assist health care providers in caring for expectant mothers and new parents with substance use disorders and help ensure they receive appropriate care, with an additional $350,000 provided for infant recovery centers.

The budget also prohibits prior authorization for outpatient substance abuse treatment to ensure people are able to get the help they need immediately. The plan also makes permanent the state’s certified peer recovery program, where those in recovery utilize their expertise and experiences to promote the success of others battling substance abuse.