New indigent burial policy contested among some funeral homes

CHENANGO COUNTY – With a projection of more than $200,000 spent on indigent burials by the end of the year, county officials have implemented a new indigent burial and cremation policy which they hope will cover essential funeral services for the impoverished without being too much a burden on the local tax base.

The new policy was passed unanimously by the Chenango County Board of Supervisors this month. In addition to changes to the financial eligibility for indigent funeral services, the policy allows the county to pay for only direct funeral and cremation services, and further requires that funeral homes contract with the Chenango County Department of Social Services in order to be paid for their services. For funeral homes that don’t contract with the county, DSS will pay for transport of the deceased to a local funeral home that does choose to contract.

“We changed it from full service burial and full service cremation to direct burial and direct cremation,” said Chenango DSS Commissioner Bette Osborne at a meeting of the Chenango County Board of Supervisors last week. “That’s one of the major changes.”

The policy also stipulates that those eligible for indigent burial services must have no more than $1,500 in liquid assets. The county will foot $1,500 for a direct burial services and an additional $1,000 for purchase of plot and opening and closing of the grave (approximately $1,700 less than what was paid under the previous policy).

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