Legislative Results for 2019
GCOA, CO-AGE and our partners worked hard this legislative session to make the lives of seniors across Georgia better. CO-AGE members took on action alerts, came to our events at the capitol and reached out to legislators to ask for support on aging issues.
Budget Wins: Over $5.6 million in new funding for aging services.
· $2 million for Home and Community Based Services. Additional funding addresses a waiting list of about 7,000 older Georgians seeking support services such as personal assistance, transportation and home modifications. This is projected to fund an additional 1,053 slots.
· $338,802 for Aging and Disability Resource Connection. The call centers helped 107,287 seniors in Fiscal Year 2018 find local resources and support. This funding will help create a public facing web site to provide 24/7 online information.
· $1,406,232 for Meals on Wheels to reduce the waiting list for home-delivered meals.
· $157,000 for assistive technology labs to provide $7,500 for technology for each of the 21 assistive technology labs across the state. Assistive technology helps improve the functional capabilities for adults with daily living challenges.
· $1,355,873 for Adult Protective Services with 17 additional caseworkers to investigate allegations of elder abuse.
· $366,752 for the Public Guardianship Office to hire 5 additional caseworkers to advocate as guardians for older adults.
· Personal Needs Allowance (PNA) increased by $5 to make total $70 per month.
CO-AGE Legislative priorities:
· Study committee on housing options – Lawmakers approved the House Study Committee on Innovative Financial Options for Senior Living. Rep. John LaHood, R-Valdosta, called for creation of the committee, citing a lack of affordable independent living options for seniors. The committee will be comprised of five House members selected by Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, and will have until December to make recommendations.
· Personal Care Home sanctions – House Bill 722 was introduced by Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-Marietta, to increase the maximum allowable sanctions that the state can impose on personal care homes for causing death or serious harm to a resident.
· Health Coverage for Low Income Seniors – Senate Bill 185 was introduced by Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta, to help low income Medicare beneficiaries with out-of-pocket health care costs. This bill did not move this session but provides a vehicle to educate legislators and the public about this problem.
Other bills of interest to seniors:
· Elder Abuse Bills: Rep. Deborah Silcox, R-Sandy Springs, sponsored important legislation to strengthen elder abuse statutes. Her bill allows law enforcement to inspect unlicensed personal care homes when regulators are not present, allows higher penalties for elder abuse crimes and clarifies the definition of exploitation so the abuse of an incapacitated person is a crime. This legislation passed the House and Senate and goes to the Governor’s desk.
· Senior Transportation - Rep Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, introduced HB 511 which passed the House but stalled in the Senate. HB 511 was amended onto SB 131 last week but failed to pass in the Senate. Johnson noted: “For the last two years, GCOA has partnered with other advocates and the House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding in developing a new model for human services transit programs. A good plan was put forward, but it did not gain enough traction this year. We remain interested in finding solutions for the 200,000 seniors who lack transportation access due to fragmented and inefficient transit administration.”