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Senior Advocacy in Action Alert

8/17/2011 3:40pm

Older Americans have a lot at stake as Congress launches its twelve member committee charged with developing a plan to reduce the federal deficit.

Michigan is the only state with two members on the special committee – Congressman Dave Camp (R-Midland), who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, and Congressman Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) who chairs the House Energy & Commerce Committee.  This means that advocates in our state can have a bigger impact on the recommendations coming out of the committee.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Contact your U.S. Representative, along with Senators Stabenow and Levin, and urge that a balanced approach be used to reduce the federal deficit, meaning an approach that includes new revenues.  Two bipartisan committees that have studied this issue both concluded that cuts alone cannot balance the federal budget without devastating programs that aid seniors, children, veterans or other vulnerable people - revenue increases must be part of the solution. 

Congress’ website at www.congress.orgwill help in identifying your U.S. Representative and allow you to send messages directly to him/her, as well as Senators Stabenow and Levin.  Or use the list below for contact information - messages can be sent through the websites. 

U.S. Representatives from Michigan (Washington D.C. area code is 202): 

U.S. Senators from Michigan: 

Background:  

Older Americans have a lot at stake as Congress launches its twelve member committee charged with developing a plan to reduce the federal deficit.  Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Older Americans Act and other federal programs are a social safety net for the growing population of older Americans.  They are frequently identified as ‘bankrupting’ the federal budget and being unsustainable in the long-term.  However, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (www.cbpp.org), tax cuts are the primary reason the federal budget is now out-of-balance. 

The committee is charged with developing a plan by November 23, 2011 to reduce the federal deficit by $1.2 - $1.5 trillion.  Everything is on the table for the committee to consider: tax increases; closing tax loopholes; cuts in entitlement programs including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; and cuts in discretionary programs like the Older Americans Act.  More than half of the committee must approve the plan for it to proceed to the U.S. House and Senate for votes.  The plan must be voted up-or-down with no amendments.  Congress has until December 23, 2011 to approve the plan. 

If the committee can’t agree on a plan, or the plan isn’t approved by Congress, automatic cuts will take place in 2013.  Half of the cuts would come from defense & homeland security programs and the other half from discretionary programs.  The cuts would not affect Social Security, Medicaid or a few other low-income programs.  They would not cut Medicare benefits either, but they would cut payments to Medicare providers by up to 2%.  This could affect access to physicians and other providers for people on Medicare.  If the committee passes a plan that falls below the minimum $1.2 trillion, automatic cuts would be made to bring total savings to the $1.2 trillion level. 

 Talking Points: 

  • The deficit should be addressed through shared sacrifice by those able to contribute.  The budget should not be balanced on the backs of frail and low-income older Americans who are least able to afford cuts.
  • The committee should follow the lead of the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson Debt Commission, which embraced the principle of protecting the truly disadvantaged, providing a robust, affordable, fair and sustainable safety net.1
  • Any changes to Social Security or Medicare should not hurt the disadvantaged.  Even with these programs, over one-third (37%) of older Michiganians do not have enough income to cover the basics like housing, food and health care.2
  • The Committee should reject proposals that undermine or weaken the current structure of Medicaid, which provides health care for low income individuals and families.  Medicaid is the primary funding source for long term care including nursing homes and home and community-based services.  Proposals to block grant Medicaid or freeze Medicaid spending should be rejected.  There are other cost-saving approaches that should be pursued, however, such as reducing institutionalization by expanding home and community-based services.  Baby Boomers are a demographic tidal wave, and will place significant financial demands on Medicaid if changes aren’t made in the way we provide long term care.
  • The Committee should reject proposals to cut the Older Americans Act. Investments in meals-on-wheels, home care, caregiver supports and other services will help our aging population live independently in their own homes, stay out of nursing homes and off the Medicaid program.

  

1 National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. (December, 2010). The Moment of Truth: Report of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Retrieved August 15, 2011 from National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform web site: www.FiscalCommission.gov.

2Jankowski, T.B. et. al. (July 20, 2011). Invisible Poverty: New Measure Unveils Financial Hardship in Michigan’s Older Adult Population (Working Paper Series, No. 3).  Retrieved August 15, 2011 from Seniors Count web site: http://www.seniorscount.org.

Information provided by the Area Agencies on Aging Association of Michigan

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Technology Help for Caregivers

8/15/2011 2:10pm

The next summer caregiver class will help individuals with their specific technology questions. Teenagers in the WSC Reverse Mentoring program will work one-on-one with caregivers to help with technology concerns. Class will be held Thursday August 25, 2011 from 10:00 until 11:30 at the Wyoming Senior Center (WSC), 2380 DeHoop Ave SW, Wyoming, MI 49509.

Registration is required. Email your name and title of class to registration@aaawm.org or call the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan at (616) 456-5664. 

Either the caregiver or the care recipient must be age 60 or older.  Complimentary Respite is available upon request.

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Senior Advocacy in Action Alert

8/9/2011 4:00pm

Action is needed on elder abuse bills! Individuals are encouraged to contact legislators to get legislation passed this year.

Five years ago, a Governor-appointed Task Force of aging experts released a set of recommendations on addressing the growing, and mostly hidden, problem of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.  Since then, many bills have been introduced, but have died due to inaction by one or both houses.  Similar bills have been introduced in 2011.  We want legislators to get the job done this year to prevent abuse and get justice for victims.  

 

What You Can Do:

Contact these Committee Chairs and ask them to take action on the elder abuse bills in their committees this fall:   

Background:

 There are more than 40 bills dealing with abuse, here are just a few examples: 

  • House Bill 4331 and Senate Bill 461 would prevent an abuser from inheriting his/her victim’s assets.  
  • House Bill 4327 and Senate Bill 454 would allow vulnerable adults to provide videotaped testimony similar to laws protecting children from having to face their abusers. 
  • House Bill 4345 and Senate Bill 468 would allow a third party to file a complaint with law enforcement regarding abuse, even though the abused person refuses to file a complaint.
  • House Bill 4332 and Senate Bill 466 would require law enforcement to publicize a missing elder similar to the Amber Alerts used for missing children 

Talking points: 

  • About 80,000 Michigan elders fall victim to some form of abuse each year.
  • Last year, Adult Protective Services received 19,000 calls reporting abuse, up from 12,000 calls in 2000.
  • 70% of abusers are ‘trusted ones,’ including spouses, children, grandchildren and friends.  Victims come from all walks of life and income classes, as witnessed by Mickey Rooney’s testimony before the Congress.
  • Michigan’s high rate of unemployment is fueling the financial exploitation of the elderly.

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Summer Classes for Caregivers

7/29/2011 11:00am

Are you caring for an older adult or are you an older adult taking care of someone else? Attend one (or all) of the complimentary trainings in the Summer 2011 Caregiver Classes to help you become a better caregiver; you don’t have to walk the caregiver path alone.

 

The Caregiver Resource Network, is sponsoring three classes this summer to help family caregivers. Topics include organization, technology and medical transfers.

 

The first class is August 9, 2011 from 1:00 until 2:30.  Experts from The Organizing Specialists will give you tips and tricks to get started and get organized.

 

Click Here for more information on any of the classes

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It's a Senior Open House and You're Invited!

7/12/2011 2:30pm

Ever wonder how your tax dollars help your neighbors? Want to learn about services for seniors in Kent County? The Kent County Senior Millage is hosting an Open House to give the community a chance to learn more about the 46 different services provided for older adults.

On Friday, July 22, 2011, 31 Senior Millage providers will be on hand to answer questions and explain their services in an open house format at the Wyoming Senior Center (WSC) located at 2380 DeHoop Ave SW, Wyoming. The event will run from 9:30 a.m.until 12:00 p.m.

The event will also include four separate twenty minute presentations by local experts on the following hot topics:

  • 9:45 a.m.- Identity Theft: protecting yourself online and off
  • 10:20 a.m.- Healthy Aging:  learning to get active and be healthy
  • 10:55 a.m.- Transportation: getting around without gassing up
  • 11:30 a.m.- Equipment and Technology:  taking seniors into the future

“Identity theft, transportation, technology and healthy aging are important topics to older adults,” says Anne Ellermets, Kent County Contract Coordinator at Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan (AAAWM), the organization that administers the Millage. “In addition to providing information on the topics, we will also have resources available because each topic is addressed by a Kent County Senior Millage service.”

The event includes refreshments and over 30 door prize drawings for gift cards, gift baskets and other items.

Individuals will also have an opportunity to visit tables for each organization, pick up information about the Kent County Senior Millage and ask questions.

“We want the community to be engaged and aware of the Kent County Senior Millage and the good work it does in our community,” says Jackie O’Connor, Assistant Director at Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan. “We are incredibly grateful that Kent County residents have been supportive of the millage and of older adults and we want to continue to provide information so they can see how their support helps improve our community.”

The Kent County Senior Millage was adopted by voters in 1998 and renewed and increased in 2006. In 2010, 17,824 clients were served. In 2011, $6.4 million will provide 46 unique services for older adults.

Click here for more information or call (616) 456-5664.

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Kent County Senior Millage Letters of Intent

6/28/2011 8:45am

AAAWM is accepting Letters of Intent for 2012 - 2013 Kent County Senior Millage funds. Letters of Intent are required for all new agencies, as well as for current millage funded agencies who wish to add a new service. The letter is due to AAAWM no later than 12:00 p.m. on Friday, July 29, 2011.

There will be an informational meeting to answer any questions about the Letter of Intent on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 1:00 p.m. in the AAAWM conference room B at 1279 Cedar NE, Grand Rapids, MI.

Questions can be submitted prior to the meeting to proposal@aaawm.org. Questions will not be answered outside this meeting, however, answers to any submitted questions will be shared. Please do not ask AAAWM Contract Coordinators any direct questions, as they are unable to respond to individual inquiries.

Letters of Intent will be reviewed by the Kent County Millage Review Committee (KCMRC).

Agencies will be notified by August 12, 2011 if they are permitted to complete a full proposal. Proposals will be due September 6, 2011. Meetings with the KCMRC will be October 3, 4 or 5, 2011. Please save those dates to ensure your availability to give a short presentation to the KCMRC.

Click here to access the Letter of Intent.

 

Continuation Funding Forms

Current service providers will receive continuation of funding forms in early August. You will also be meeting with the KCMRC on the above October dates.

A 3 - 4% decrease in millage funding is expected for 2012 compared to the $6.4 million allocated in 2011.

Funding decisions are guided by current needs and community priorities. To learn more go to www.aaawm.org/providers/kent_county_senior_millage_providers or contact Jackie O’Connor at 616.222.7002 or at Jackie@aaawm.org

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Thank you for advocating

6/27/2011 3:40pm

Funding for meals-on-wheels and other Office of Services to the Aging (OSA) services were restored in the final version of the FY 2012 budget of the Department of Community Health (DCH) sent to Governor Snyder for his signature.  An avalanche of emails, phone calls, letters and face-to-face visits by aging advocates convinced legislators and administration officials to restore the OSA cuts proposed earlier this year.  One OSA cut  remained, however - $120,000 in funding for Tribal Elder programs.) A last minute appeal for increased funding for the successful nursing facility transition program resulted in a $26 million increase in the MI Choice Medicaid Waiver line-item, which had been slated to get flat funding from the Governor, House and Senate. Thank you to everyone who voiced their concerns, and to all the legislators who listened.

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Important Dates for Millage Providers

6/6/2011 2:20pm

The Kent County Millage Review Committee (KCMRC) met last week.  They received information on how well services were provided in 2010, how things are going in 2011 and made plans for 2012.

The 2012 Millage funding process will begin July 1, 2011.  The projected millage revenue is 2.1% lower for 2012 than it was for 2011. 

Here are some dates to remember for the 2012 funding process:

July 1, 2011 – Letter of Intent released.  Only new providers or current KCSM providers requesting new services should submit a Letter of Intent.

July 29, 2011 – Letters of Intent due

August 5, 2011 – Continuation Funding Forms released.  These are to be completed by every current service provider who wishes to request funds for 2012.  No exceptions.

August 12, 2011 – Proposal released for new services or new service providers.  Proposals will only be issued to agencies who have submitted a Letter of Intent and who have been approved by the KCMRC to proceed in the funding process.

September 6, 2011 @ 12:00 p.m. – Continuation Funding Forms and Proposals due.

October 3, 4, and 5, 2011 –Oral Presentations scheduled with the KCMRC.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me or your contract coordinator.  If you are considering submitting a Letter of Intent, I strongly urge you to discuss your idea with us prior to July 1, 2011

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Thank you for your advocacy!

6/2/2011 4:07pm

The “Thrill of Victory” is how Mary Ablan, Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Area Agencies on Aging, described it. In a significant turnaround, funding for home delivered meals and other home care programs in the Office of Services to the Aging (OSA) FY’12 Budget were restored to current levels.

So why were these programs spared deep cuts while a long list of other state programs were reduced, including K-12 education, universities, community colleges, welfare payments, corrections, mental health, public health, and revenue sharing?

According to Mary Ablan, an avalanche of emails, phone calls, letters and face-to-face visits by aging advocates convinced state legislators and administration officials to restore OSA cuts that at one point were in the 15% to 18% range and some volunteers programs were slated for elimination. It clearly was one of the most impressive advocacy campaigns in aging network history.

Our thanks to those advocates who took the time and made the extra effort to contact a state elected official. Your deep commitment and dedication to programs that help older adults remain independent truly made a difference!

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Public Hearing

5/18/2011 4:13pm

AAAWM Public Hearing, Monday June 6, 2011 at 1:00 pm at the Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan (1279 Cedar Street NE Grand Rapids, Michigan).

The purpose of the hearing is to listen to public comments regarding services for older adults in west Michigan. Click here to read a copy of the FY 2012 Draft Plan

*** AGENDA ***

Welcome:  Robert Sundholm, AAAWM Advisory Council Chair

Draft Plan & Hearing Process:  Sandra Ghoston-Jones, Planner

Public Comments: Robert Sundholm

  • The Chair will request each member of the public to

    • introduce him or herself and
    • comment as they choose.

  •  Speakers are encouraged to present their opinions concisely.
  •  Every person will be heard once before any person is invited to comment a second time.

 Concluding Remarks:  Advisory Council Members

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Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan
3215 Eaglecrest Dr NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Phone: 616-456-5664 or 888-456-5664 • Fax: 616-456-5692

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