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By Nick Reisman| City of Albany. Published 5:23 AM ET Feb 21, 2022

The state budget should include $50 million in funding to protect older New Yorkers as the pandemic continues to pose major health challenges to elderly people, Assemblyman Ron Kim said this weekend.

The money is being called for by Kim as the budget negotiations are due to enter a new phase in the coming days. A spending plan is expected to be approved by the end of March.

“My recommendations for funding in this year’s state budget will provide much-needed support and protection for older adults,” Kim said. “The pandemic has left many of our most vulnerable residents in an even more precarious situation — it is my top priority to bring them the safety and security they need. These critical investments, paired with my continuing fight to strengthen and protect patient rights, is one of the many steps I will take to help our older adult population.”

His proposal includes $20 million for the long-term care ombudsman program, which provides for state reviews of nursing home facilities. He wants $14.1 million for the Meals on Wheels program, as well as $6 million for case management services.

And Kim is proposing $2.9 million to combat social isolation and elder abuse while also supporting caregivers. A $750,000 pilot program to curtail elder abuse and financial exploitation of older people has also been proposed.

Kim, a Queens Democrat, emerged as a prominent voice for those living in nursing homes as well as their family members after the pandemic killed thousands of people living in long-term care facilities in the state. He was deeply critical, too, of the Cuomo administration’s handling of nursing home data and its policies.

The Cuomo administration underreported the number of nursing home residents who died in the first months of the pandemic, according to multiple reports released a year ago. At the same time, the administration came under criticism for a policy that required nursing homes to not turn away COVID-19-positive patients.

Gov. Kathy Hochul has proposed bolstering health care spending overall in her $216 billion budget plan, including a provision that seeks to grow the ranks of health care workers statewide by 20% over the next five years.

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