Congress passed the Older Americans Act (OAA) in 1965. The original legislation established authority for grants to States for community planning and social services, research and development projects, and personnel training in the field of aging. The law also established the Administration on Aging (AoA) to administer the newly created grant programs and to serve as the Federal focal point on matters concerning older persons.
Today the OAA is considered to be the major vehicle for the organization and delivery of social and nutrition services to this group and their caregivers. It authorizes a wide array of service programs through a national network of 56 State agencies on aging, 629 area agencies on aging, nearly 20,000 service providers, 244 Tribal organizations, and 2 Native Hawaiian organizations representing 400 Tribes. SeniorCare is just one of those organizations, and is both a Massachusetts Aging Services Access Point (ASAP) and a federally designated Area Agency on Aging (AAA).
Programs operated under OAA allow older adults to live more independently, in their homes, or in settings of their choice, particularly those with the greatest need socially or economically. For some, it has meant employment, for others opportunities to volunteer. These programs are administered locally, where people understand better the needs of local residents.
From Meals on Wheels, to Evidence-based prevention programs to the National Family Caregiver program, there are efforts being made to improve the lives of older Americans via this important legislation. With Baby Boomers entering the ranks of those who benefit from this important Act in unprecedented numbers, its importance should be apparent. To learn more... Importance of the Older Americans Act.
MASS HOME CARE URGES CONSTITUENTS TO CALL THE GOVERNOR TO ASK FOR HOME CARE FUNDS TO BE RESTORED. (617-725-4005)
MASS HOME CARE SENT THIS NEWS RELEASE TO LOCAL MEDIA TODAY...
For Immediate Release
Contact: Scott M. Trenti, Executive Director
Elder Groups Urge Governor Patrick
Not to Cut Vulnerable Seniors---Again
Gloucester & Beverly ~ Six days before Governor Deval Patrick announced his budget cuts to elder home care, elder rights groups send him a letter urging him not to hurt vulnerable seniors. Now that the “9c cuts” have been announced, advocates are asking the Governor again to spare these programs.
In his first year in office in 2008, Governor Deval Patrick impounded funding passed by the legislature heading for home care and other elder accounts. Now in his final weeks in office, the Governor has once again chosen to impound an additional $2.37 million in FY 2015 funding.
The largest single cut was to home care services. Even before these latest 9c cuts, the home care services account was $2.3 million below where it stood in Fiscal Year 2009, seven budget cycles ago. The Governor’s cuts this week leave the FY 15 home care services account $3.8 million below 2009 funding. The care management account is $4.8 million lower than in FY 2009—so these two home care program accounts total $8.6 million below funding levels 7 years ago.
In an attempt to ward off these cuts, 6 elder rights groups sent a letter to the Governor, and his Administration and Finance Secretary, Glen Shor, urging them not to cut further into home care accounts.
Advocates said today they are urging the public to call the Governor’s office (617-725-4005) to ask him to take the 9c cut to elderly home care off the table. “We save the taxpayers money every single day we keep someone out of a nursing facility SeniorCare, Inc. Executive Director Scott Trenti said. “Cutting an investment that creates savings simply makes no sense as fiscal policy---and it hurts some of our most vulnerable seniors.”
Here are excerpts from the letter hand-delivered to Secretary Shor and the Governor:
Dear Secretary Shor,
In October of 2008, Governor Deval Patrick imposed a total of $15.511 million in 9c cuts to the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (ELD) line items (9110 accounts). The accounts lost 5.3% in overall funding. The impact of these cuts are still felt today in the ELD accounts, seven budget years later.
The basic home care purchased FY 15 appropriation of $104.4 million, is $2.3 million below the appropriation level of FY 2009---seven budget years earlier! This has not only affected the 28,000 elders in this program, it has resulted in lower CHIA rates for this program, since Chapter 257 rates are based largely on restrained historic levels of funding.
The home care case management appropriation in FY 2015 of $35.54 million is $4.762 million lower than the account had in FY 2009---11.8% below where it stood seven budget years earlier. This has restrained new hiring, resulted in caseloads over 100 per worker, and depressed salary levels in the ASAP system for RNs and CMs well-below industry and state standards, which in turn increases recruitment and training costs.
The figures look even worse when compared to FY 14, because FY 15 was the first recovery year the ELD items have had since the 2008 Recession hit. The FY 14 appropriation level for home care purchased services ($98.752 million) is $7.96 million lower than the FY 2009 benchmark, or 7.5% lower than 7 budget years earlier. The Governor’s laudable effort to help home care recover in FY 15 will be undone by 9cuts in the same accounts that ANF and the Governor helped restore last spring.
Overall, the ELD account appropriations in FY 15 are 13% below the $294.98 million benchmark of FY 2009, or $38.16 million lower.
The ELD accounts are just beginning to emerge from the Recession, and we are just 5 months into the restored funding the Governor provided in FY 15. But this fragile recovery will be shattered if ANF recommends another round of 9c cuts to the ELD accounts.
The home care accounts have had a significant impact on reducing spending in other long term support accounts, especially the nursing facility appropriations. From 2000 to 2013, the patients days paid for by Medicaid have dropped by more than 33%, create a savings to state and federal taxpayers of roughly $865 million annually.
Between FY 2000 and FY 2013, the number of nursing home patient days paid for by MassHealth fell by 4,387,000 days (-33.5%). In FY 15 terms, the SNF cost per day to Medicaid is around $197.26, and the costs avoided from reduced patient days will be closer to $865 million per year. This is the true “home care dividend” that the state receives from its investment today in home care services. There are few state programs that provide an immediate return on investment: when we keep an elder out of a MassHealth nursing facility bed today, that same day we provide them with care in the community for half the cost.
For all the above reasons, we urge ANF not to impose further 9c cuts on the ELD accounts. Our elderly clients have already paid a significant price for 9c cuts over the past seven years.
Al Norman, Mass Home Care
Mike Festa, AARP Massachusetts
David Stevens, Mass Councils on Aging
Chet Jakubiak, Mass Assoc. of Older Americans
Carolyn Villers, Mass Senior Action Council
Lisa Gurone, Home Care Aide Council of Massachusetts
Presented by Annelle B. Primm, M.D., MPH
GOVERNOR PATRICK PROCLAIMS ‘EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS MONTH’
FRAMINGHAM, MA – Governor Deval Patrick has proclaimed that September is ‘Emergency Preparedness Month’ in the Commonwealth. Working with the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) and the Department of Public Health (DPH), the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) will promote public preparedness and safety throughout the month. These efforts are in conjunction with a nationwide effort to encourage all Americans to take simple steps to better prepare for emergencies at home, work and school
MEMA Director Kurt Schwartz stated, “During the month of September, individuals and families are encouraged to take the steps necessary to ensure the safety and security of themselves and their families during times of emergency.”
To help the public better prepare themselves and their families, MEMA will focus its outreach and activities on four concepts: 1) Be informed, 2) Develop a plan, 3) Build a Kit, and 4) Get involved. MEMA will share information on each of these concepts including: highlighting potential community hazards or risks; ways to obtain information from local and state emergency managers; tips on how to build comprehensive emergency plans for you and your family; tips on how to build a kit that can help sustain your families in times of disasters; and how to become involved.
All citizens of the Commonwealth are encouraged to participate in citizen preparedness activities and asked to use the preparedness resources at www.mass.gov/mema/ready to become more prepared.
Governor Patrick’s Proclamation can be found at: http://www.mass.gov/eopss/docs/mema/2014-preparedness-month-proclamation.pdf.
MEMA is the state agency charged with ensuring the state is prepared to withstand, respond to, and recover from all types of emergencies and disasters, including natural hazards, accidents, deliberate attacks, and technological and infrastructure failures. MEMA's staff of professional planners, communications specialists and operations and support personnel is committed to an all hazards approach to emergency management. By building and sustaining effective partnerships with federal, state and local government agencies, and with the private sector - individuals, families, non-profits and businesses - MEMA ensures the Commonwealth's ability to rapidly recover from large and small disasters by assessing and mitigating threats and hazards, enhancing preparedness, ensuring effective response, and strengthening our capacity to rebuild and recover. For additional information about MEMA, go to www.mass.gov/mema. Continue to follow MEMA updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MassEMA and Facebook at www.facebook.com/MassachusettsEMA. Also, sign up for Massachusetts Alerts to receive emergency information on your smartphone, including severe weather alerts from the National Weather Service and emergency information from MEMA, download the Massachusetts Alerts free app. To learn more about Massachusetts Alerts, and for information on how to download the free app onto your smartphone, visit: www.mass.gov/mema/mobileapp.
Peter Simonsen, a member of the Hamilton-Wenham Rotary club, has assumed the volunteer post of Rotary International District Governor for 2014-15. His role will be to coordinate the community and international service projects of the 47 clubs and one e-club in District 7930 (Greater Boston - North/Southern NH). He’s one of 537 Rotarians worldwide serving as a district governor this year whose responsibilities include organizing new Rotary clubs and strengthening existing ones. Rotary clubs are involved in many important service activities locally, but also worldwide, such as the eradication of polio, preservation of clean drinking water, peace and conflict resolution, disease prevention, maternal and child health, literacy and community economic development.
In his position as Chief Financial Officer for SeniorCare Inc., Simonsen says he’s fortunate that six of the district’s Rotary clubs are represented in SeniorCare’s service area, because he’s been able to see “many parallels between SeniorCare’s mission and the purposes of Rotary.” He also says that, even though it’s a hectic schedule, he’s “having a lot of fun working and visiting all 47 clubs, each with their own personality.”
Simonsen reported that this year’s Rotary president’s theme is Light Up Rotary. He says members are being encouraged to host a Rotary Day in their community, to continue the fight against polio, and increase recognition of their clubs impact to their communities.
Mr. Simonsen is the first member of the Hamilton-Wenham club, the first SeniorCare employee, to be named a district governor, and the sixth Beverly resident to hold the honor in the last 100 years.
Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.2 million members of more than 34,000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work improves lives at both the local and international levels, from helping families in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. For more information visit www.rotary.org
SeniorCare Inc. is a Massachusetts Aging Services Access Point, a federally designated Area Agency on Aging and member of the Aging and Disability Resource Consortium of the Greater North Shore Inc. SeniorCare is a consumer-centered organization that provides and coordinates services to elders and others, enabling them to live independently at home, or in a setting of their choice, while remaining part of their community. For information, visit www.seniorcareinc.org.
This month's National Council on Aging newsletter contained a brief handout called "Snap shots - Debunking the $15 Benefit Myth." SNAP stands for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which used to be known as Food Stamps. Many seniors, it turns out, never apply for this benefit, thinking it will only get them about $15/month, and they think "that's not worth applying for."
The fact is that $15 is the MINIMUM monthly benefit, but many people's benefit amount is much higher. In fact, 81% of all senior households on SNAP received more than $15/month. Some seniors can use medical expenses as a deduction to maximize their SNAP benefit, and if you do happen to only qualify for the minimum, most states allow you to carry the balance over from month to month. In 2012, the average
senior living alone received $119/month in SNAP benefits!
Of course, some seniors will only qualify for the minimum, so what can you expect to get for that $16 at the grocery store? The state of Arkansas decided to find out, and they put their findings in a document that we've uploaded to our Pinterest Health and Wellness page for you to view: http://www.pinterest.com/seniorcareinc/health-and-wellness-for-seniors/
Peaches, apple sauce, coffee, spaghetti, oatmeal, and peanut butter are just some of the things on the list - if someone handed you a free coupon for those things, would you cash it in? It turns out that you can squeeze quite a bit of nutrition out of that $16, especially if you buy store brands rather than name brands.