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February 13, 2013

SAGE and NY Aging Advocates Applaud Decision to Preserve State Office for the Aging

This week Governor Cuomo’s Spending And Government Efficiency Commission—otherwise known as the SAGE Commission—released its final report on ways to modernize and right size New York State government. Over the past year and a half, The SAGE Commission has looked into ways to streamline state departments and operations in order to become more effective and cost-efficient. One of the options in question was whether the State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) should be merged with the state’s Department of Health (DOH).

SAGE (not to be confused with The SAGE Commission) and other New York aging organizations have been advocating against this potential move and the dissolution of NYSOFA. In the Spring of 2011, SAGE Policy Associate Alli Auldridge took part in a roundtable discussion with State Senators David J. Valesky and Martin J. Golden of the Aging Committee to speak about how such a move might lead to a medicalized vision of aging and undermine NYSOFA’s community programs that support older adults and enable them to age in place with a continuum of care. Ultimately, the merger would likely have hurt marginalized LGBT elders in need of access to culturally competent care and outreach from aging providers.

We’re happy to announce that the voices of New York’s aging advocates were heard by the SAGE Commission. The SAGE Commission report concluded that NYSOFA should not be subsumed under the DOH. Below is an excerpt from the report on its findings about a potential merger: 

"At first blush, the significant overlap of functions and missions between DOH and SOFA suggest that a merger could improve the efficiency and program effectiveness of these two independent agencies. However, after substantial analysis, the Commission has concluded that the conditions that would make it possible to greatly expand the approach used by SOFA to help a broader range of older New Yorkers and other New Yorkers with physical disabilities avoid institutional care do not yet exist. Accordingly, the Commission believes that a bet­ter course of action is for the State to closely coordinate the two agencies' policy objectives and consider a full integration if, and only if, the conditions are in place to ensure that the SOFA approach spreads to DOH's programs for older New Yorkers who are Medicaid eligible, rather than having DOH's "medical model" and cost structure spread to SOFA's efficient and popular programs."

Watch SAGE’s testimony at the 2011 Albany Roundtable about the merger (look for Alli around the 43 minute mark).

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