EPIC Restored; Grant Seeks to Combat Elder Abuse; Fall Prevention Awareness Encourages Home Safety

By Assemblyman Will Barclay
Thankfully, in our last budget session, funding for co-payment assistance through EPIC was restored. I was pleased to support this restoration in the budget. EPIC is the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage Program that is available to New York State residents aged 65 years or older whose incomes are under $35,000 for singles and $50,000 for couples.

EPIC helps pay the Medicare Part D drug plan monthly premiums for members with income up to $23,000 single and $29,000 married.

Thousands of people throughout the district and the state voiced their outrage at the decision to cut EPIC funding and as a result, in the last budget session, funding was restored.

Beginning January 1, 2013, EPIC will again provide assistance with Medicare Part D covered drugs after the Medicare deductible is met. EPIC will supplement drugs purchased in Part D initial coverage, coverage gap (donut hole) and catastrophic phases. EPIC will also cover many Medicare Part D excluded drugs. EPIC co-payments will be $3, $7, $15 or $20 based on the cost of the drug. To enroll or learn more, call 1-800-332-3742.

State takes aim at elder abuse

The state recently received a three-year $1 million Elder Abuse Prevention Interventions Grant from the U.S. Administration for Community Living to combat financial exploitation and elder abuse in New York.

Elder abuse includes financial exploitation, physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse and neglect. Financial exploitation, the fastest growing form of elder abuse, accounts for over $2.9 billion dollars a year nationally in losses to people age 60 and older.

The award will support a pilot program that will focus on preventing and intervening in financial exploitation of frail adults aged 60 and older. This pilot program will test new technologies for offering this model in rural areas.

Experts have noticed there are similarities in cases of financial exploitation and plan to employ accountants to investigate and intervene to assist victims. They will work with Adult Protective Services as well as local law enforcement and other private agencies. More preventative education will also come with this grant.

The hope is this model can be replicated and used to help protect more senior citizens throughout the state.

National Falls Prevention Awareness

You may have seen news stories earlier this autumn that addressed fall prevention. That’s because the National Council on Aging named a day in September Falls Prevention Day. This day was dedicated to raising awareness about the danger of falling, especially among older adults who are at greater risk and more likely to suffer more severe impacts when they fall.

Falls are the leading cause of injury, deaths, hospitalizations and emergency department visits among adults aged 65 and older. The most common injuries from falls are bone fractures, lacerations, or traumatic brain injuries.

On average, 900 New Yorkers aged 65 years and older die each year from injuries sustained from falls; in addition, more than 132,000 suffering falls require hospital treatment, according to the State Health Department. Of those hospitalized, more than 25 percent suffer a hip fracture and 12 percent suffer a traumatic brain injury.

Studies have found that a combination approach can reduce falls among older adults.

Experts recommend: a physical activity regimen that includes balance, strength training, and flexibility components; consulting with a health professional about getting a fall risk assessment; having medications reviewed periodically; having vision checked annually; and making sure the home environment is safe and supportive.

For more information on fall prevention visit the Department of Health web site at http://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/injury_prevention/falls.htm

To locate fall prevention programs in your area, contact your local Office for the Aging, which can be found at: http://www.aging.ny.gov/NYSOFA/LocalOffices.cfm

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.

My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.

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