Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced today that the National Network of Public Health Institutes has recognized New York's Health Across All Policies/Age-Friendly NY Initiative with its 2019 Public Health Innovation Award. The award is bestowed on an organization that has taken a risk or developed an out-of-the-box solution resulting in new approaches, scalable ideas and ways of working together. The NNPHI cited New York for the strong partnerships, strategic vision, innovative approach and creative financing that this initiative demonstrated.  

"New York State leads the nation in implementing positive healthy aging policies, and this award recognizes our bold commitment to public health and older New Yorkers," Governor Cuomo said. "By creating livable communities for all ages, we are addressing health needs while promoting economic prosperity and social equity."

Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York was designated the first age-friendly state in the nation in 2017 by AARP and the World Health Organization. This means that the State has committed to embedding AARP's Livable Communities Principles into government programs, planning and procurement.    

Governor Cuomo recently issued an Executive Order directing all state agencies to adopt and incorporate the principles of age- and health-friendly communities into their programs, policies, spending and reporting. The Executive Order builds on the New York State Prevention Agenda, the blueprint to improve the health of all New Yorkers and reduce health disparities. The vision of the Prevention Agenda is for New York to become the healthiest state in the nation. The State has made significant progress with this goal—in 2011, New York ranked 24th in public health outcomes, according to "America's Health Rankings"; in 2018, the State climbed to 10th.                  

Healthy, age-friendly communities employ smart growth planning principles, such as walkable and bikable streetscapes, compact, mixed-use zoning, reliable transit, accessible public spaces and a variety of housing choices. They also use preventive health themes, such as physical activity, public safety, access to healthy food, social interaction for better mental health, air and water quality, and socio-economic equity, to improve overall population health and address social determinants of health. 

Several state agencies have already embraced age-friendly principles in their programs. The Department of Health, Office for the Aging, and Department of State have created a grant program to help counties and communities become age-friendly certified and implement the Governor's Executive Order on the local level. Further, the Office for the Aging will submit its federal four-year plan in July that will include actions and activities to support age-friendly communities and healthy aging. County offices for the aging four-year plans that are due in 2020 are also required to include these elements. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has included a focus on age-friendly communities in its most recent Adirondack/Catskills Smart Growth Grant Program to help make the two parks more accessible to older New Yorkers.

"Here in New York, we are proud of how we invest in residents at every stage of life," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "Our commitment to older adults is unprecedented, and as more and more people live longer, fuller lives it becomes increasingly essential to ensure their needs are met and that they're active in their communities. As the nation's first age-friendly state, we are proud to be recognized for our efforts and committed to continuing our health and smart growth initiatives to ensure all New Yorkers lead their best lives."

NYS Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said, "Caring for older New Yorkers and ensuring they have access to safer, more livable, healthy communities is a cornerstone of public health. This latest recognition honors our commitment to Governor Cuomo's Health Across All Policies and further enhances our designation as the nation's first Age Friendly State."

NYS Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "Governor Cuomo has made smart, sustainable community planning and development a key part of how we operate in New York State. The New York Department of State is proud to contribute to the ongoing efforts that are raising the bar for the rest of the nation."

NYS Office for the Aging Acting Director Greg Olsen said, "Governor Cuomo recognizes that the only way to improve overall population health and create communities that are great places to grow up and grow older is through a coordinated, multi-agency approach. Under the Governor's leadership, New York is nationally recognized for being the first age friendly state in the nation. And through the Prevention Agenda and the Health Across All Policies approach, marrying health care, preventive health, and community-design, in concert with addressing social determinants of health, will continue to yield positive results for all New Yorkers, young and old."

Jo Boufford, M.D., Vice Chair of the NYS Public Health and Health Planning Council, said, "The NYS Public Health and Health Planning Council is delighted at the national recognition of the State's commitment to policies and practices to make NY the heathiest state for persons of all ages. We applaud Governor Cuomo's leadership and are gratified to serve as the public body charged to oversee implementation of NYS Prevention Agenda, the Governor's Executive Order to implement Health Across All Policies of state agencies and implementation of the State's commitment to being the nation's first Age Friendly state."

Judith A. Salerno, MD, MS, President, The New York Academy of Medicine, said, "The New York Academy of Medicine is proud to be a trusted partner and advisor to the State of New York in the development and implementation of the Health Across all Policies and Age-Friendly initiatives. The recognition of these efforts by NNPHI confirms Governor Cuomo's vision and leadership in making health a Statewide priority. Alongside our partners at the State Department of Health, the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York, and AARP, we are committed to building public-private partnerships that support health for people of all ages." 

Beth Finkel, AARP New York State Director, said, "Health is key to happy and successful aging, and AARP New York is proud to have collaborated with Governor Cuomo and the state Health Department, the New York Academy of Medicine, and the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York to develop this innovative approach to health care for an aging population. We are grateful to the Governor for making New York the first state in the nation to commit to joining the AARP-World Health Organization Network of Age Friendly States and Communities. As the centerpiece of that commitment, the 'Health Across All Policies' initiative demonstrates Governor Cuomo's vision and leadership in recognizing the increasing importance of health in all aspects of the lives of New Yorkers of all ages."

Nora OBrien-Suric, Ph.D., President of the Health Foundation of Western and Central New York, said, "The Health Foundation for Western & Central NY is honored to be recognized along with our esteemed partners in receiving this award. When Governor Cuomo launched an initiative to advance "Health Across All Policies," and made a pledge to make New York the first Age-Friendly State, the Health Foundation recognized the opportunity for partnership. There is a strong connection between the Governor's mandate and the Foundation's emphasis on addressing the social determinants of health for children and older adults. The work of HAAP/Age-Friendly New York is based on a recognition that there are many interacting determinants of healthy aging.  Many of those determinants must be addressed at the community level, which is why collaborations are essential in achieving desired outcomes. Our collaboration with the Department of Health, AARP and the New York Academy of Medicine demonstrates the type of collaboration needed to effect systems change.  We thank the National Network of Public Health Institutes for recognizing our partnership with this award."