GCOA's Senior Issues Newsletter: Week of March 6, 2023
Senior Issues Weekly Newsletter March 10, 2023
2023 Legislative Session:
Crossover and Legislative Days 28-31
In this Issue:
Monday, March 6th, Legislative Day 28, was Crossover Day. Legislators stayed at the Capitol until upwards of midnight considering as many bills as they possibly could. GCOA staff and advocacy partners stayed into the evening. Highlights of the day's events can be found HERE.
On Wednesday, March 8th, Legislative Day 30, the State of the Judiciary was held in a joint session of the House and Senate. Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Boggs, led the address. View it HERE.
On Thursday, March 9th, Legislative Day 31, House Appropriations Chairman, Representative Matt Hatchett, presented the chamber's FY 2024 budget on the House Floor. It was passed almost unanimously and is now heading to the Senate for review.
The daily schedule at the Capitol as well as live streams of hearings and other pertinent information about the legislature can be found at legis.ga.gov .
Keep reading for updates on the 2023 CO-AGE priorities.
New HCBS Funding in House Budget
Nearly 10% of Georgians over 60 are food insecure, ranking the Peach State as one of the top ten states with the highest levels of food insecurity for seniors in the country. Home delivered meals, one of the most well known services that combats senior hunger, falls under the umbrella of Home and Community Based Services (HCBS). Home delivered meals are provided at no cost to recipients, additionally providing nutrition education and a social check-in during the meal delivery. Get all of the key facts and statistics on senior hunger in Georgia HERE.
On Thursday, March 9th, the House passed their FY 2024 budget, HB 19. They allotted $5,464,800 for Home and Community Based Services! This is a $1 million increase from last year! The budget will now go to the Senate for approval. On that same day, GCOA Executive Director, Debra Stokes, provided public comment in support of HCBS in the Senate Health & Human Development Appropriations Subcommittee meeting.
Assisted Living Legislation in Other States
The states of both Montana and New Jersey currently have bills aimed at addressing Medicaid in assisted living moving through their respective legislatures. Montana's SB 296, the Senior Care Facility Access and Stabilization Act, would "ensure steps to stabilize Medicaid payments to residential long-term care facilities to maintain access to assisted living communities for those on Medicaid." New Jersey's bill, S 405, would "codify and increase under some circumstances, current minimum Medicaid per diem reimbursement rates for assisted living communities, comprehensive personal care homes and assisted living programs." Continuing reading about these bills HERE.
The CO-AGE advocacy team is in talks with the Georgia Department of Community Health, which oversees Medicaid, to determine what direction to take regarding the improvements to assisted living communities priority. The advocacy team is also in the process of leveraging additional partnerships with organizations that are on the forefront of Medicaid in assisted living in other states. Additional research is needed in order understand how our goal may be accomplished under existing laws.
Teledentistry Takes Services to Underserved Populations
Only 60% of Georgia residents have visited a dentist in the last year. Two major dental providers have recently joined forces to "increase access to critical dental services and improve health outcomes of underserved and rural Georgians" through a mobile dentistry model. Read more about it HERE. Older adults in the underserved and rural populations can be especially challenging to reach. Teledentistry is another model that can help that remaining 40% have access to dental care by taking services directly to long term care facilities, community centers, and other settings that are more convenient for them.
The Teledentistry bill, HB 441, was not heard during Crossover but the bill sponsors are still discussing how best to move the legislation forward. The advocacy team is on standby for their recommendations.
11 States Have State-Facilitated Retirement Savings Programs
Wednesday, February 22nd, Legislative Day, was AARP's Advocacy Day at the Capitol. Dozens of AARP volunteer advocates from across the state gathered to meet legislators at the ropes to promote the Work and Save program, asking them to consider the creation of public-private retirement savings partnership. These advocates raised their voices on behalf of over 2 million working Georgians who do not have a way to save for retirement through their job. Read more about AARP's Advocacy Day HERE.
Now that Senator Chuck Hufstetler has agreed to sponsor the bill in the Senate, the Work and Save priority will continue to move forward to be assigned a bill number and then assigned to a committee. Advocacy partners are looking for potential bill sponsors in the House.
The Cost of Retirement in Georgia
A report from last year estimated that Georgians need to have at least $850,000 in savings in order to retire comfortably. With the cost of living steadily increasing, the need for programs like Work and Save to ensure access to retirement savings will be increasingly important. Georgia ranks as one of the ten most affordable states to retire in the United States. Read more about the cost of retirement in Georgia HERE.
While the Work and Save bill did not make it through Crossover, significant progress has been made in introducing the concept of Work and Save to the Georgia Legislature. Work on this issue will continue.
Get ready to Engage with CO-AGE!
The Georgia Council on Aging's Coalition of Advocates for Georgia's Elderly (CO-AGE) is meant to be:
a forum to identify and address concerns of older Georgians
a vehicle for bringing broad-based input on aging issues from across the state
a diverse group of organizations, individuals, consumers and providers interested in "aging specific" and inter-generational issues
a unifying force communicating the importance of providing supportive communities and adequate services & programs for older Georgians
Anyone interested in advocating with or on behalf of older adults can join
If you are already a member, please make sure that your account is up to date. In order to accurately and effectively link our CO-AGE members to their legislators, it's important that we have the most updated home addresses in our database. If you had a change of address recently, please contact Patrice Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will update your address in our system. All home addresses will remain confidential!
Senior Week 2023 Recap
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