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Legislative Bulletin: Engaging Seniors and Family Members in Advocacy

June 26, 2020

Engage Resident Families in Visitation Advocacy!

The issue of reopening family visitation for residents of nursing homes and adult care facilities (ACFs) has been a focus of conversations with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Executive for several weeks. Seniors residing in Nursing Homes and ACFs have been kept from seeing their families for more than three months. This is challenging for residents and families alike, and it is undoubtedly having an impact on health outcomes for these residents. While we understand the delicacy of the matter, we believe that it is time that thoughtful decisions be made regarding family visitation in these settings.

We are asking our LeadingAge members to connect with resident families and encourage them to advocate with us for a thoughtful approach to reopening visitation. Families should call the Governor’s office and/or send an email urging them to allow visitation to begin, with safety measures in place. Below are some talking points that can be used:

  • I want to urge the Governor to permit visitation in nursing homes and adult care facilities, like you have in group homes for people with disabilities.
  • I haven’t been able to visit my loved on who lives in a nursing home/adult care or assisted living facility since March
  •  (Residents/my loved ones) are showing signs of depression, anxiety, and related physical decline as a result of this social isolation, despite the providers best efforts to find ways to otherwise connect us with our loved ones.
  • Safety guidelines can be implemented to ensure the health and safety for my loved one, myself and the rest of the residents and staff in the nursing home/adult care facility. The summer months allow for outdoor visitation which, for a variety of reasons, pose opportunities to visit with reduced risk, so we need to act now!

The Governor’s office phone number is 1-518-474-8390 and emails can be sent using this online form.

Please share this message and contact information with family members waiting to see their loved ones and encourage them to contact the Governor TODAY!


Preparing for November General Elections

New York held its primary elections this past Tuesday, solidifying the candidates for the upcoming November general elections. As many will remember, the 2018 general election saw a change in power with Democrats securing a comfortable Majority in the Senate and maintaining power in the Assembly. This was the first time in more than a decade that the Democrats held Senate Majority.

Now as we look ahead to the 2020 general, there are several seats up for grabs for the Democrats, with 10 Republican Senators having announced their anticipated retirement. Among the Republicans leaving the Senate is Minority Leader John Flanagan who officially announced earlier this month that he would step down on June 28th. Since the announcement of Flanagan’s departure, Senator Robert Ortt of Western New York has been selected as the incoming Minority Leader.

It is clear that the Legislature is still moving through a shift, and if 2018 was any indication, it is possible that we will once again have several new faces in Albany come January. Over the next several months, LeadingAge NY will work to get acquainted with candidates running in key districts and educate them on long-term care and some of our most pressing issues such as workforce and funding. We also will continue our conversations with incumbent Legislators and ensure they understand the challenges our providers are facing.

Members are also encouraged to get to know the candidates that are running in their districts. Whether your district has an open seat or if there is an incumbent, it is helpful to know who may or may not be representing your district in Albany come January. Members can visit the NYS Board of Elections website to review primary election results and see who won your district’s primary. This will also inform you of the candidates that you may want to familiarize yourself with ahead of the November elections.


Anticipated Joint-Legislative Hearing on Nursing Homes

Amidst questions of when and if the Legislature will return to Albany for legislative work is the question of when the body will hold a hearing on Nursing Home response to COVID-19. The Legislature has already held joint legislative hearings for COVID-19s impact on minority communities and small businesses, and now calls for a hearing on Nursing Homes are growing.

Earlier this week, the Buffalo News quoted a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins saying, “We are finalizing dates for two hearings on nursing homes and COVID and will be announcing them shortly.” LeadingAge NY has been hearing similar rumblings and are anticipating a hearing to come within the next two weeks.

With that, it is more important than ever that you are engaging with your lawmakers, particularly if they sit on the Health, Aging or Investigations Committees. These committees are expected to sponsor a hearing on nursing homes. Please take a moment to find your lawmakers here and find out what committees they sit on via the Senate and Assembly websites or a google search.


Send Lawmakers COVID-19 Advocacy Letters TODAY

LeadingAge New York has updated our advocacy letters, reminding lawmakers of the many challenges long term care providers are facing, and urging them to provide appropriate support and reimbursement for COVID-related costs. There is no telling when the legislature will be back, so it is important that we keep the pressure on. Use the links below to send your lawmakers a pre-written letter today! It only takes a few clicks!


CALL TO ACTION: Thank Lawmakers for Sponsoring 5-Year Affordable Housing Plan Bill

Assembly Housing Committee Chair Steven Cymbrowitz and Senate Housing Committee Chair Brian Kavanagh have introduced A.10576/S.8488, a bill that would require the establishment of a five-year capital spending plan for New York State Homes and Community Renewal effective April 1, 2022, and every fifth fiscal year thereafter. LeadingAge New York and its partners have been part of the conversation with Chairman Cymbrowitz advocating for this plan and are thrilled by the introduction of this bill! It is a clear recognition of the importance of establishing a five-year plan to combat the uncertainty within the affordable housing development community that occurs when there is no guarantee of continued funding at the close of a yearly spending plan.

We thank Chairman Cymbrowitz and Chairman Kavanagh for their sponsorship of this important legislation and encourage LeadingAge members to do the same. Please take a moment to send the lawmakers a message via social media and/or email. Draft messages, which can be copy and pasted into social media or email are available below. If you are using social media, please check to make sure that the lawmakers’ “handle” are tagged.


Thank you @BrianKavanaghNY & @SteveCym for introducing A.10576/S.8488, a bill that would require the establishment of a 5-year capital spending plan for HCR. This bill is vital in ensuring consistent funding for important projects such as affordable senior housing. Thank you for your support!


Thank you @Senator Brian Kavanagh and @Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz for introducing A.10576/S.8488, a bill that would require the establishment of a 5-year capital spending plan for NY Homes and Community Renewal and secure funding every fiscal year thereafter. This legislation is vital in fostering security within the affordable housing development community and ensuring consistent funding for important projects such as affordable senior housing. Thank you for your support!

 A draft email to Senator Kavanagh and A/M Cymbrowitz is available here. Emails should be sent to kavanagh@nysenate.gov and Cymbros@nyassembly.gov.


Funding Advocacy for ACFs and Assisted Living Providers

LeadingAge NY has been advocating for funding to help address the increased costs of managing COVID-19 for all our members. We worked with our association colleagues on some targeted advocacy for ACFs and assisted living providers, given that the vast majority of those providers do not have access to funding that has been made available. Click here to view a letter sent to the Governor, Legislature and other key staff advocating for financial assistance for ACFs and assisted living providers.


LeadingAge & LeadingAge NY Coronavirus Resources

LeadingAge NY is closely following all COVID-19 news and doing our best to keep members informed of updates, recommendations and guidelines from the Department of Health (DOH).

LeadingAge NY and LeadingAge National Member resources are linked below.

LeadingAge NY Coronavirus Resources

LeadingAge NY COVID-19 Weekly Update calls – Mondays, 11 am – 12 pm. Click here to join the call from your computer, android or apple device. Or you can join the call by dialing in: 877 853 5257 (Toll Free); Webinar ID: 852 964 255.

LeadingAge National Coronavirus Resources Page

COVID-19 Group in the MyLeadingAge Member Community

Coronavirus Daily Member Update calls – Monday - Friday from 3:30-4:30 p.m. ET. Past call recordings are available here and you can register here for future calls.


Contact: Ami Schnauber; 518.867.8854; aschnauber@leadingageny.org

               Sarah Daly; 518.867.8845; sdaly@leadingageny.org