Georgia Council Celebrates Legislative Wins for 2018

Georgia Council Celebrates Legislative Wins for 2018

Expresses Disappointment in Lack of Funding for Senior Programs

Atlanta, GA (March 29, 2018) – The Georgia Council on Aging and CO-AGE (Coalition of Advocates for Georgia’s Elderly) hailed the passage of several pieces of legislation that will help make Georgia’s older adults and other vulnerable populations safer. In contrast the Council is disappointed in the lack new funding for Home and Community Based Services and the Aging and Disability Resource Centers in the budgets adopted by the General Assembly.

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Advocates for the elderly seek funds

Rome News-Tribune

Nearly 13,000 people called for help on the Northwest Georgia Area Agency on Aging hotline in the past 12 months, the director testified in Atlanta Thursday.

Lynn Reeves spoke to the House Appropriations health and human resources subcommittee chaired by Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome. Reeves and Maureen Kelly, legislative liaison for the Georgia Council on Aging, are seeking an additional $14 million in the state's 2019 budget.

"The explosive growth in the number of Georgians age 60 and older is already straining our current system ... and the loss of two federal grants created a funding crisis," Kelly said. Continue Reading

View the video of the testimony:

Tifton Resident Recognized as 2018 Distinguished Older Georgian

(Atlanta, GA, February 2, 2018) – In his groundbreaking book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell describes connectors as “people who link us up with the world. People with a special gift for bringing the world together.” Mrs. Eunice Mixon of Tifton, Georgia is such a connector, and next week, on February 8, the Georgia Council on Aging will honor her as the Distinguished Older Georgian for 2018. Both houses of the General Assembly will pass resolutions recognizing her contributions to the state and to South Georgia, and friends and family will join her for a reception in her honor at 2 p.m. in the capitol rotunda.

 

A life-long resident of Tift County, Miss Eunice, as she is called affectionally, was born to Robert and Carrie Lastinger and later married Albert Mixon. Together the couple started a farm where Miss Eunice was the top hand, cultivating the soil and feeding the farm workers. As technology replaced most of her efforts on the farm, Miss Eunice remembered her old ambition to teach. She started school at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and a few summers later had earned a master’s degree and a specialist in science education from the University of Georgia.

 

Mrs. Mixon’s first official foray into state politics came in 1974 when she became Tift County campaign chair for soon-to-be-Governor George Busbee. That’s when her experience feeding the farm hands really proved itself as she hosted dinner parties for large groups, either for fun or to get to know people from different parts of the state, a practice she continued for many years. Mrs. Mixon said her parents taught her one important lesson that has guided her life in politics – that intelligent, well meaning, loving people can disagree. A person is not "evil" just because they view things differently.” You don't vote against some body because they're an evil person,” she says. “You vote against somebody because in your opinion, their ideas are not as good as the others running."

 

Over the years Mrs. Mixon served on some 15 boards and commissions and volunteered for countless election campaigns for presidents, senators and governors, always with her trademark parasol. Among her many recognitions, she raised more than $25,000 for Alzheimer’s by dancing the waltz and was named one of 25 women for the 21st Century by the Georgia House (along with other distinguished Georgia women such as Coretta Scott King and Rosalyn Carter). She received the inaugural Eunice L. Mixon Award created by the State Bar of Georgia and was recognized as one of the 40 most influential South Georgians. Following the death of her husband in 1998, she spent 12 years working with the General Assembly as doorkeeper.

 

The Distinguished Older Georgian Award was created in January 2003 by the Georgia Council on Aging to honor a Georgian 80 years of age or older recognized as a role model for positive aging who has made significant contribution to society through occupational or volunteer efforts.

 

The Georgia Council on Aging (GCOA) was created by the Georgia General Assembly in 1977 to advise the governor, assembly, and state agencies on matters relating to Georgia’s seniors. Members of the 20-person council, drawn from every region of the state, also advocate for aging Georgians and their families and make recommendations to lawmakers and agencies on programs for seniors.

Needs of Georgia’s Elderly Take Center Stage at Capitol Next Week

Volunteer Advocates to Plead Case for Council on Aging’s Priorities

(Atlanta, GA – February 1, 2018) – On February 7-8, nearly 600 older adults from all over Georgia will go to the Georgia Capitol to meet with their legislators. The meetings are part of Senior Week, held annually by the Georgia Council on Aging and CO-AGE (the Coalition of Advocates for Georgia’s Advocates) to focus attention on the needs of Georgia’s seniors.

The theme of the week is “Stretching Dollars for Seniors,” reinforcing the message that programs such as Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) and the network of Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) are cost-effective investments that enhance the quality of life for older Georgians and persons with disabilities while saving the state money.

The advocates will seek to persuade lawmakers to include additional resources in the state budget -- $10 million for Home and Community-Based Services and $4 million for the Aging and Disability Resource Centers, both CO-AGE priorities for 2018. In addition, these volunteers will seek support for two issues that will help keep seniors safer -- tougher penalties for personal care homes that fail to comply with state regulations and a statewide registry of individuals who have a history of abusing vulnerable adults. These four issues were adopted by CO-AGE members as their legislative priorities last summer during their annual meeting in Macon.

ADRC funding is particularly critical this year. Until now, Georgia has funded the program through two federal grants. Yet, this funding has now run out. Without an allocation in the state budget, it is likely that services will have to be cut. Those cuts would be potentially devastating.

Last year some 92,000 Georgians called their local ADRC for help in navigating the complex array of services and programs for older adult or persons with disabilities. Further, the program is very cost-effective and a great investment in Georgia’s elderly and disabled. In the last three years some 75 to 80 percent of callers have been diverted to private pay resources or given info only. 

The Georgia Council on Aging (GCOA) was created by the Georgia General Assembly in 1977 to advise the governor, assembly, and state agencies on matters relating to Georgia’s seniors. Members of the 20-person council, drawn from every region of the state, also advocate for aging Georgians and their families and make recommendations to lawmakers and agencies on programs for seniors.

Funding for Senior Programs Remains Flat in 2019 Budget Proposal

Funding for Senior Programs Remains Flat in 2019 Budget Proposal

Georgia Council on Aging Will Push for Enhanced Support

Atlanta, GA (January 11, 2018) – Governor Deal released his Amended 2018 and his 2019 budget proposals today which include existing funding for services and programs for Georgia’s older adults. While these funds will help Georgia’s senior population, they fall short of what would be required to meet the needs of the growing numbers of older adults who want to remain at home.

“We are disappointed that the budget proposal does not include additional funding for older adults,” said Vicki Johnson, chair of the Georgia Council on Aging. “The members of the Coalition of Advocates for Georgia’s Elderly (CO-AGE) had extensive discussions last summer and voted on a list of priorities for the 2018 session. CO-AGE members developed their priorities based on their knowledge of the unmet needs throughout the state. We will work with committees in the Georgia House and Senate to try to get additional funding included in the final budget.”

By 2040 one Georgian in five will be age 60 or older. This explosive growth has strained existing systems designed to help keep seniors in their homes. Right now, there is a waiting list of more than 12,000 individuals who have need services. Without additional funds, that list will only get longer, and more people will have to go into nursing homes, where their care will be much more expensive.

CO-AGE priorities for 2018 include $10 million for in-home services, $4 million for the Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs), a registry of those individuals with a record of elder abuse, stricter regulation of personal care home and more options for assisted living for low-income seniors.

Funding for ADRC is particularly important. These centers provide information and referral services to older adults and persons with disabilities to help them navigate complex public and private programs to get the help they need. The increase in the older population and the end of two federal grants have created a crisis in funding for the ADRC. From FY 2016 to FY 2017 the ADRC funding decreased by 9 percent. Funding of $4 million would strengthen the ADRC statewide network by adding capacity to meet the growing demand for crucial information.

GCOA Plans Senior Week 2018

GCOA's annual Senior Week at the Capitol will be February 7 and 8, 2018. Attendees work the ropes to visit their legislators and tell them how important the CO-AGE priorities are to their lives. On Feburary 8, the Distinguished Older Georgian is announced. Groups interested in attending senior week can contact us. Reservations are required so that we have enough materials for your group. 

Individuals interested in volunteering at Senior Week can also contact us. Volunteers are needed as guides for groups attending Senior Week. Guides lead groups through the capitol and help arrange for groups to speak with legislators. 

Senior Week Sponsorship opportunities are also available. Please contact us for more information.

October CO-AGE Meeting and 40th Anniversary Success

October 26 was a busy day for aging advocates. The Georgia Council on Aging held the Coalition of Advocates for Georgia's Elderly (CO-AGE) October meeting at Athens Community Council on Aging. With record breaking attendance, presenters shared updates on the five CO-AGE priority issues for the 2018 legislative session. (Read more about the issues at www.gcoa.org/issues). Following this meeting, the Georgia Council on Aging hosted an anniversary luncheon at the Classic Center to celebrate 40 years of advocacy for and with older Georgians. Attendees were treated to videos from Governor Deal, Lieutenant  Governor Cagle, Speaker Ralston, and Commissioner Crittenden.  Visit www.gcoa.org/40th to see these special videos and a timeline of the Council's accomplishments.  View photos from the CO-AGE meeting on Facebook and photos from the event here

Wins and Losses for Older Georgians

Wins and Losses for Older Georgians

Aging Advocates Tirelessly Fought For Wins

 

Atlanta, GA – March 30, 2017 – “We are excited to report to the 1.3 million Georgia seniors that your advocates, your governor, and your legislative supporters worked hard at the capitol this year to help improve your lives,” declared Georgia Council on Aging Chair Vicki Johnson. Georgia’s senior population gained more than $13 million in new funds for increased services and protections for Older Georgians. These wins come after tireless work by advocates. The Governor added $4.2 million to reduce waiting lists for in-home care, $750,000 in funding for senior meal programs and $250,000 for a rate increase for meals providers.  The Governor also added $766,000 for additional Adult Protective Service workers who investigate the abuse of the elderly and disabled.

The House and Senate added funding in two key areas: to fight elder abuse and to aid those living with Alzheimer’s. Over $2 million was added to increase the salaries of those who monitor nursing homes in the state and over $100,000 was added for a prosecutor to help put abusers in jail. After education and advocacy by the Alzheimer’s Association and Emory University, the House and Senate added $1 million to the Medicaid home care program for Alzheimer’s patients and $4.12 million to create the Georgia Alzheimer’s Project. According to Ginny Helms with the Alzheimer’s Association, “we hope that this will provide an accessible means of early, accurate diagnosis, especially for those in rural and other under-served communities.”

The last hours of the session on March 30 saw the passage of House Bill 154, a bill to improve access to dental care sponsored by Rep Sharon Cooper (R-Marietta). Last year this bill received plenty of attention after the Georgia Dental Association disagreed with the Georgia Dental Hygienists Association about the bill. This year Cooper and Rep Matt Hatchett (R-Dublin) brokered a compromise that both groups could support. House Bill 154 will allow dentists to send their hygienists to clean teeth in nursing homes and other safety-net settings without the dentist being on site. This will improve access to oral health care for residents.

The Family Care Act, another key bill for Georgia’s seniors, passed after six years of work on the issue. SB 201, sponsored by Sen Butch Miller (R-Gainesville), will allow employees with accrued sick leave to use up to five days to care for a parent, grandparent, or grandchild. The Family Care Act will help caregivers maintain their employment while still caring for their loved ones who are ill.

The legislature also passed HB 221 sponsored by Rep Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula) which spells out the boundaries, expectations and duties for those granted a power of attorney. It would also define when breakdowns in that agreement constitute a crime. This legislation was prompted by cases of abuse in Georgia.

Last year aging advocates added abuse, neglect, and exploitation to the Certified Nurses Aide registry to help combat elder abuse. This year advocates proposed a more comprehensive abuser registry. This registry would list caregivers who have committed elder abuse and include those who do not show up on official background check. Aging advocates are working with their partners from the state and private industry to create a solution for next session.   

Transportation is ranked by seniors as one of their biggest challenges. Aging advocates asked for funding to test innovative programs that help seniors solve the transportation problem. Funding would have allowed communities to tailor programs to meet their specific needs. In some areas of the state model programs partner with companies like Uber and Lyft. In more rural communities have offered vouchers to family members or friends who were able to offer transportation to seniors. Aging advocates were unable to secure additional transportation funding this year but will continue to find ways to address the need.