Thursday, March 7th, was Crossover Day at the Capitol. With few exceptions, bills not passed by at least one chamber of the General Assembly by Crossover Day are dead for the current legislative session. With the 40th and final legislative day set for April 2, here's the status of the 2019 priorities of the Georgia Council on Aging and CO-AGE.
* Home and Community Based Services funding in the 2020 budget Gov. Brian Kemp recommended $1,898,000; Georgia House approved Kemp's recommendation. The budget is now under review in the Georgia Senate. Once the budget is passed by the Senate, a conference committee will be appointed to hash out differences in the two chambers' versions. (HCBS provide support for older Georgians to remain at home as long as possible by providing home modifications, personal assistance, meals, transportation, and other services. These services cost far less than staying at a nursing home and can help seniors stay independent longer.)
*Aging and Disability Resource Connection funding in the 2020 budget Gov. Brian Kemp recommended $338,802; the Georgia House approved the same. The budget is now under review in the Georgia Senate and follows the same process as above. (These centers provide information and referrals to individuals and family members who are aging or living with a disability about long-term supports and services. This funding will help ADRCs meet the growing need and continue to provide “no wrong door” services to Georgians.)
*Meals on Wheels Georgia House added $460,277 to Gov. Brian Kemp's recommendation, bringing total funds to $1.4 million for 2020. The 2019 amended budget includes $250,00 extra for Meals on Wheels. This budget has been signed by the governor.
*Senate Bill 185, by Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta, on health coverage. This bill has not had a hearing in committee and did not pass the Senate on Crossover Day. It is likely dead for the session. (This bill would direct the Department of Community Health to develop a waiver, increasing the income eligibility limits for seniors on Medicaid.)
Study committee on housing options This measure will create a House-only committee and will be heard in the House Human Relations and Aging Committee after being introduced and assigned a bill number. The goal is to look at financial options, including Medicaid funding of Assisted Living for low-income seniors.
Elder abuse HB 246 and HB 247 are elder abuse bills that the council and CO-AGE are supporting. House Bill 246 has passed the House and is in the Senate Judiciary Committee. House Bill 247 also made the calendar, clearing the House 170-1.
Personal care home safety GCOA has given state regulators suggested updates to fines and sanctions for violations in personal care homes.