State Legislative Forum: Addressing the Long Term Care Crisis

March 05, 2021  
10:00AM - 11:00AM
Sponsored By AARP New York
Event Description

New York's growing older adult population is facing unprecedented barriers accessing meals, groceries, medicine, and support services, and new levels of social isolation brought on by the novel coronavirus.   This virtual forum offers a chance to ask questions about your representatives’ legislative and policy priorities.  Now, more than ever, it is important for you to be able to hear directly from your legislators. Don’t miss this exciting opportunity!


Connect with us to discuss important topics with your lawmakers, such as:

What reforms will you work to implement to improve our long term care system to address the current COVID-19 response, and ensure the tragic loss of lives never happens again?

  • Will you work to increase funding for home and community-based services administered by the State to help older people remain at home?
  • Family caregivers often experience burnout as their jobs have gotten tougher amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.  What can we do to provide support to these individuals?
  • What can be done to ensure that we increase SNAP enrollment for all who are eligible to receive benefits? Would you support efforts to increase data matching, to connect people who are eligible to receive certain benefits with other safety net programs?
  • The executive budget cut funding to crucial programs, like funding for programs to prevent elder abuse, and programs that assist kinship caregivers.  Will you work to restore funding to these vital and necessary programs?
Catalina Cruz
New York State Assembly Member, District 39
Catalina Cruz has the privilege of representing one of the most diverse districts in the nation, which encompasses the neighborhoods of Corona, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights. Catalina was born in Colombia and came to Queens at the age of 9. Catalina grew up as a DREAMer; she lived in the United States for more than 10 years as an undocumented American. Catalina was raised by a single mother, who like many immigrants had to work multiple and menial jobs to provide for her family. As a single mother of four children, she worked long hours during the week as a nanny, cleaned offices at night, and sold tamales and empanadas at the soccer fields on the weekends. Inspired by her mother’s perseverance, Catalina has committed her career to fighting for our community and to ensure our workers, neighbors and families not only survive, but thrive. Catalina is an experienced attorney and a leader for tenant protections, immigration reform and workers’ rights. Prior to becoming the Assemblywoman for the 39th District, she most recently served as the Chief of Staff to the New York City Council Finance Chair, Julissa Ferreras. Catalina worked to help pass key legislation protecting workers, women and small-business owners. She previously served as the Director of the Governor’s Exploited Workers Task Force, helping New York become a national leader in the fight against worker exploitation and human trafficking. This first-of-its-kind task force conducted statewide outreach and enforcement within key low-wage industries, including car washes, restaurants and nail salons, where workers are often victims of wage theft and subject to unsafe working conditions, but do not come forward for fear of retaliation. Catalina also served as Counsel to the New York City Council’s Immigration Committee, where she helped write and implement legislation that led to New York City becoming a Sanctuary City. She also worked on projects such as the Detainer Law and IDNYC (municipal identification). Additionally, Catalina served as Counsel to the New York State Department of Labor’s Division of Immigrant Policies and Affairs, where she helped this agency become a leader in combating labor trafficking. Catalina began her career as a Staff Attorney, representing low-income, rent-stabilized tenants in New York City housing court, ensuring that they received the full protection of the law under their leases. Catalina lives in Jackson Heights, Queens. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a Juris Doctorate from the City University of New York School of Law. She is admitted to practice law in the State of New York. To learn more about Catalina’s work, please follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @NYAssemblyCruz.
Samra Brouk
Samra Brouk
New York State Senator, District 55
Senator Brouk represents New York's 55th District which includes, portions of Monroe and Ontario counties, including Rush, Mendon, Pittsford, Perinton, Fairport, Penfield, East Rochester, East Irondequoit, Naples, Bloomfield, Victor, and the east side of the City of Rochester. Senator Brouk was born and raised in the City of Rochester and surrounding suburbs, before earning her B.A. in Psychology at Williams College. Senator Brouk has always worked to help provide quality services, greater opportunities, and vital support to those in need. This dedication to public service led her to join the Peace Corps, work with local governments to improve recycling efforts, improve services for seniors aging within their homes, and address inequalities in the public school system. As a leader in non-profit community development, she has spent a decade building educational, environmental, and senior services initiatives in her own community and across New York State.
Matthew Simpson
Matt Simpson
New York State Assembly Member, District 114
Matt Simpson was elected to the New York State Assembly on November 3, 2020. His district is comprised of Essex County, Warren County, and parts of Saratoga and Washington counties. As an Assemblyman, Matt will work to rein in out-of-control spending, fight for lower taxes, eliminate burdensome unfunded mandates, and improve the state’s failing infrastructure. Matt grew up in the North Country and was first elected to public office in 2011 when he won a seat on the Town Board in Horicon. Two years later, he was elected Town Supervisor where he served until his election to the Assembly. While Town Supervisor, he also worked double duty by sitting on the Warren County Board of Supervisors. There, Matt served as Committee Chair of Public Works, Committee Chair of Personnel, Committee Vice Chair of Public Safety, and in a number of other capacities. He was appointed to the Warren & Washington County IDA in 2015, and served as its Chair from 2018-2019. During that time, he oversaw many projects designed to advance the economic viability of the area. His volunteer work includes serving as President of the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages (AATV). The AATV represents more than 100 municipalities throughout the Adirondack Park. In his time there, he has worked alongside members of New York State Assembly and Senate, as well as numerous environmental organizations like the Adirondack Counsel. Prior to public service, Matt was a small business owner for more than 30 years in the construction trades industry. There, he learned the value of having to roll up his sleeves and work until a job is done. Over the span of three decades, Matt also learned first-hand what goes into creating jobs, making payroll, and succeeding in growing a business in the North Country despite being faced with challenges. Matt lives in Horicon with his wife, Judy, and their two children.
Karines Reyes
New York State Assemblymember, District 87
Karines Reyes has been a Bronxite for nearly 20 years. Born in the neighborhood of Los Minas, Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic, she identifies as an Afro-Latina. She is a registered nurse in the Oncology Department at Montefiore Einstein Hospital. Karines has two young sons and has been balancing the tasks of being a nurse, union representative, activist and volunteer without neglecting the duties of her most important job – being a mother. Her family left the Dominican Republic and moved to her father’s homeland of Carolina, Puerto Rico, in her early childhood. She immigrated to the United States with her mother when she was 6 years old. Moving to Corona, Queens, to live with her maternal grandfather, she experienced the culture shock of a place that was different and unknown. The challenge of learning English made her apprehensive, but Karines dove right in and excelled in all areas of her education. Her love for the arts and music continued to develop as she moved throughout the public school system. At Louis Armstrong Middle school in Queens, she played the clarinet in the concert band and was senior band leader. During her years at the High School of Art and Design, Karines focused on visual arts – creating an array of inspiring works of art. She majored in advertising and served as the account executive for the student-run advertising agency. After graduating with honors, Karines attended CUNY Baruch College and studied communications. During that time, she began working at Mount Sinai Hospital in the Health Information Management Department. Three years later, she had her first son. The financial demands of raising a family pushed Karines to work a second job. She obtained a position with Aramark at Mount Sinai Hospital and worked as a hospital employee and an outside contractor simultaneously. Soon after, she moved to the Physical Therapy Department as an admissions coordinator when her second son was born in 2010. While on maternity leave, she decided to return to school and pursue a career in nursing. As a student nurse, Karines volunteered in Haiti after the earthquake and participated in numerous community health fairs in the Bronx. She acquired her degree in nursing by 2013 – while working full time and managing the demands of being a mother. She graduated with the third-highest nursing average in her class and passed the boards. Shortly after, she began her nursing career at Montefiore Hospital on the In-Patient Oncology Ward. Karines attained a certification in chemotherapy infusion and worked in the hospital and as an infusion nurse at the Eastchester Cancer Center. She was an active leader and served on the NYSNA Executive Committee at Einstein Hospital as vice chair of the bargaining unit. Additionally, she has participated in lobbying for safer nurse-to-patient ratios and single-payer health care in New York State. Her leadership role has led Karines to address local community boards and build relationships with many of the city’s elected officials. Karines has also traveled around the country attending conferences as a representative with NYSNA to speak about issues affecting communities nationally. As a Latina of Puerto Rican descent, her interest in the island’s economic struggles led Karines to participate in many demonstrations both in the states and on the island of Puerto Rico, particularly in reference to health equity and human rights issues. After Hurricane Maria hit the island, she served as a volunteer nurse with the first group of medical professionals deployed by New York State. Along with a team of fellow nurses, LPNs, doctors and pharmacists, they staffed medical tents outside San Pedro Hospital in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. They provided much-needed medical services to the community. Karines has devoted much of her career, both in labor and in nursing, to helping others. She has made it her life goal to be sure to represent those who need it most and will continue to do so as the New York State Assemblymember for the 87th District.
Joseph Addabbo, Jr.
New York State Senate, District 15
Elected to the New York State Senate in 2008 after serving seven years in the New York City Council, State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. continues to proudly carry on the public service tradition of his father, Congressman Joseph P. Addabbo, Sr., who served 13 terms in the United States House of Representatives from 1960 to 1986. A lifelong resident of Queens, Senator Joe Addabbo represents the 15th Senatorial District encompassing the communities – in whole or in part – of Broad Channel, Elmhurst, Forest Hills, Glendale, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, Kew Gardens, Kew Gardens Hills, Maspeth, Middle Village, Ozone Park, Rego Park, Richmond Hill, Ridgewood, South Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Woodside and most of the Rockaways. In the State Senate, Joe has continued to make constituent service a priority, just as he did as a representative of the 32nd New York City Council District, where he secured millions of dollars for infrastructure improvements, school technology, and senior and youth services. Through his Senate offices, Joe and his staff have assisted thousands of constituents with problems involving housing, health, transportation, taxes, public safety and many other issues, including efforts to aid local residents whose lives were so deeply affected by Hurricane Sandy in late October of 2012. As a member of the Senate Bipartisan Task Force on Hurricane Sandy, Joe worked to help his community recover and rebuild from the devastating storm. As a member of the Senate, Joe is deeply concerned with the welfare of New Yorkers in all stages and walks of life. His legislative record, which includes bills he has introduced and supported, reflects Joe’s commitment to fighting on behalf of children, the elderly, families, working people, consumers and veterans. He has also devoted himself to efforts to protect the environment, create new jobs and economic opportunities for small businesses, provide tax relief for state residents, and improve transparency and accountability in New York’s government. As a State Senator, Joe is well known for organizing and sponsoring dozens of community events for his constituents each year, including job fairs for local residents and veterans, comprehensive recycling events, informational sessions for seniors and consumers, health screenings, MetroCard van visits, and many other free programs. In addition to other legislative responsibilities, Joe serves as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering. Through the committee, Joe and his staff are responsible for improving the revenue potential, increased educational funding and job creation connected to gaming operations throughout the state, while addressing the issue of gambling addiction. Joe is also a member of the Senate Committees on Aging, Civil Service and Pensions, Children and Families, Education, and Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs. As a past Chairman of the Senate Elections Committee, Joe worked to pass ethics reforms and led the fight to force large corporations to disclose information about money they spend to influence the outcome of elections. Joe has proven himself in the political and civic world. He is a multi-term New York State Democratic Committee member and a ranking member of the South Queens Regular Democratic Club. His community service can be seen in his work on behalf of the Ozone Park Kiwanis, as the former president of the Ozone Tudor Civic Association, and his past tenure as Executive Secretary of Community Board #10Q. Born in 1964, the youngest child of Joseph and Grace Addabbo, Joe attended Nativity BVM School in Ozone Park (Class of 1978), Archbishop Molloy High School (Class of 1982), and St. John’s University (Class of 1986), before graduating from Touro Law School (Class of 1992.) Prior to his election to the City Council in 2001, Joe practiced law for 10 years.
Rachel May
New York State Senator, District 53
Senator Rachel May represents Central New York’s 53rd District, which includes most of the City of Syracuse, parts of Onondaga and Oneida counties, and all of Madison County. She chairs the Senate Committee on Aging and the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources, and is a member of the committees on agriculture, elections, environmental conservation, higher education, and Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation. As a freshman legislator, Senator May has been instrumental in passing transformative legislation, including comprehensive election reforms, tenant-centered housing reforms, unprecedented criminal justice reform, and the nation’s most ambitious climate legislation. She has worked hard to bring the people of Central New York into the process of decision-making in Albany, by holding a record number of legislative hearings in and focused on the region, including hearings on the Climate Leadership and Community Preservation Act, rural broadband, farm labor rights, health care for all, and upstate nursing home issues during the COVID-19 crisis. In addition, she has brought her downstate colleagues to Central New York for roundtables on opioid addiction treatment and prevention, minority and women-owned businesses, and childcare and child welfare. She has also sponsored and passed into law a bill to create the first regional STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) school for Central New York, which is currently under construction in the City of Syracuse. As chair of the Senate Committee on Aging, she has been a vigorous supporter of home care workforce initiatives, expanded funding for in-home care programs, the Long-term Care Ombudsman Program, and nursing home accountability. She has sponsored bills to create a Reimagining Long Term Care Task Force, authorize a family caregiver tax credit, and create a home care jobs innovation fund to support workforce growth. A resident of Syracuse, Senator May had a successful career in higher education prior to running for public office. She started out as a professor of Russian language and literature at Stony Brook University, where she was a proud member of UUP, before earning tenure at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. She moved to Syracuse in 2001 and retrained in ecology and sustainability, becoming director of sustainability education at Syracuse University. Senator May earned a master’s degree from Oxford University on a Marshall Scholarship and a Ph.D. in Russian language and literature from Stanford University. She also earned a master’s degree from SUNY-ESF. She and her husband, a professor at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, have one daughter who recently graduated from Cornell University. Senator May was recently elected to a second term.

Welcome and Introduction By Jeff Coltin, Senior Reporter, City & State NY


Opening Remarks By TBD, AARP NY



Senator Joseph Addabbo, Jr.
Senator Samra Brouk
Senator Rachel May
Assembly Member Catalina Cruz
Assembly Member Karines Reyes
Assembly Member Matt Simpson


Session Concludes

Platinum Sponsors