The staff of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs prepared an end of session summary to highlight some of its legislative accomplishments for 2013-2014:
- This legislation will create an Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Acute Care Advisory Committee to:
- Craft a strategy to address dementia-capable care in all acute care settings
- Present this strategy to state legislature and relevant state agencies and departments
- Assist in implementation of the strategy
- Assess whether acute care settings are dementia-capable
- Coordinate with the federal government to ensure access to dementia-capable care in acute care settings
- Provide information and coordination of Alzheimer’s and related dementia care in acute care settings across state agencies
- This legislation will create a clear process for determining which state has jurisdiction to appoint a guardian or conservator if there is a conflict.
- It outlines a procedure for transferring a guardianship or conservatorship to another state, and for accepting a transfer, helping to eliminate some of the expense and wait for families.
- This legislation will help to facilitate enforcement of guardianship and protective orders from other states by authorizing registration in Massachusetts.
Items in the FY14 Budget:
Councils on Aging—The formula grant was increased from $7 per elder per year to $8 per elder per year.
Home Care—Wait lists were eliminated thanks to additional funding secured for this program.
Notification of senior health care options— The FY14 budget directed MassHealth to provide each beneficiary age 65 and over with an annual notice of the options for enrolling in voluntary healthcare programs.
Items in the FY15 budget:
Home Care—The legislature and the administration secured funding to ensure that there are no waiting lists for home care in FY15.
Councils on Aging— The legislature secured funding to bring back innovation grants for Councils on Aging which fund proposals for new programs at COAs including: job search services, benefits screening tools, transportation to regional Councils on Aging and enhanced benefits screening for elders.
Homemaker Salary Reserve—The legislature included funding that will provide an annualized wage increase of approximately 75 cents an hour to over 17,000homemakers and personal care homemakers.
Elder Protective Services—The legislature appropriated $50,000 to establish a financial abuse specialist team that will assist elder protective service workers.
Nursing Homes—The legislature approved changing the base reimbursement year for nursing homes from 2005 to 2007. This will help ensure that nursing homes are reimbursed for an amount that more closely reflects their current costs of providing care.
Psychotropic Medications—The legislature established an outside section requiring the Department of Public Health to create a schedule of psychotropic medications that require informed written consent before they can be administered to patients in a nursing home, rest home, or other long term care facility.
Other 2013-2014 accomplishments
Elder Protective Services Commission—This commission has drafted recommendations to develop a multidisciplinary approach and standardized training and coordination procedures to enhance the effectiveness of the protective service program in reducing and addressing neglect, abuse and financial exploitation.
LGBT Aging Commission—This commission is in the process of collecting testimony in order to analyze the health, housing, financial, psychosocial and long-term care needs of older lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults, and their caregivers, and to make recommendations to improve access to benefits and services where appropriate and necessary.
Elder Economic Security Commission—This commission has begun meeting to begin collecting information necessary to: assess older adults’ current level of economic security; identify policies and programs currently in place to assist older adults; assess the needs of state and local programing to increase elder economic security; and make recommendations to the legislature.
Rolling back fares for the RIDE—The MBTA increased fares for the RIDE (paratransit for seniors and people with disabilities) from $2 to $4 in July 2012. A study from the Executive Office of Elder Affairs and the Massachusetts Office on Disability determined that the increase in fares led to isolation and other negative outcomes, so the legislature worked with the MBTA and EOEA/MOD to roll back fares from $4 to $3 in December 2013.
Office of State Senator William N. Brownsberger