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From the Executive Director

9/26/2012 11:25am

In the world of politics the focus these days is on the upcoming elections. However, after November 6 attention will shift to the Budget Control Act of 2011 and sequestration of all discretionary federal funding. Older Americans Act funding, the primary funding source for area agencies on aging, will be impacted by the sequestration.

In 2011, Congress and President Obama agreed to the Budget Control Act to address the growing federal budget deficit. Under terms of the agreement, Republicans and Democrats must identify $1.2 trillion in budget savings and/or revenue increases over the next ten years to reduce the federal deficit. Both parties must come to an agreement by the end of this calendar year.

If no agreement is reached, then all discretionary federal funding will be sequestered. That means an 8.4% across-the-board cut in defense and non-defense discretionary spending. Older Americans Act funding will be among the many, many programs to be reduced. Between $4-5 million in annual Older Americans Act funding will be lost to Michigan. The AAAWM region would lose about $350,000 which currently provides congregate meals, home delivered meals, and in-home services. In Michigan, the cuts will deny 6,000 seniors nutritional meals, including 2,500 frail homebound seniors getting meals-on-wheels.

An 8.4% funding cut will make it harder for low income older adults to stay in their own home and out of a more expensive nursing home. In the long run, taxpayers will have to pay more as an increasing number of individuals qualify for Medicaid.

This all comes at a time when senior millage funding across Michigan is declining due to decreasing property values. And the number of older adults in need of in-home assistance is growing. The number of older adults in Michigan grew by more than 20% over the past ten years. That trend will accelerate over the next ten years. Consequently, demand for services and waiting lists will continue to increase.

Please contact U. S. Senator Levin, Senator Stabenow, and your U.S Congressman by phone, fax, or email urging them to find common ground and to reach a budget deficit agreement before the end of the year. Tell them how the sequester will devastate Older Americans Act programs and the negative impact on the health and independence of older Michiganians.

 

Comments

#1 Sandra said:

How about an update from September so this doesn't read like old news?

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Senior Advocacy in Action Alert

9/20/2012 11:00am

An 8.4% cut across all federal non-entitlement programs will go into effect January 2, 2013. The cuts are automatically triggered by the 2011 Budget Control Act, resulting from  the bipartisan “Super Committee’s” inability to come to an agreement on $1.2 trillion in budget cuts. Unless Congress acts, these cuts will affect every federal program, from the military to public health and social services. Please see the information below and make calls, emails, faxes, and tweets to express your concern.

Background:

Unless Congress reverses an 8.4% across-the-board cut approved last year, all discretionary federally-funded aging network programs will lose funding beginning January 2, 2013.  The official name for this cut is “sequestration,” and it was a provision of the Budget Control Act that was passed to address the growing federal budget deficit.

Between $4-5 million in annual funding will be lost to Michigan just from the federal Older Americans Act, which provides congregate and home-delivered meals, in-home services, senior employment and other services.  Other discretionary federal programs would also be hit, including energy assistance, senior volunteer programs, and the Community Services Block Grant, which supports Community Action Agencies and helps low-income families.  A report released by Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) states that the sequester would eliminate 17 million meals for needy seniors nationwide.  The sequester is taking place because a bipartisan committee failed to come up with an agreement on how to save $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years.

What You Can Do:

Contact your U.S. Representative and Michigan’s two U.S. Senators to express your concern about the impact of “Sequestration Cuts” on low-income seniors.  Find your U.S. Representative by going to www.house.gov and typing your zip code in the box at the top labeled “Find Your Representative.” You can also send a message directly through the website.  If you don’t have the Internet, call your local library for information.

Michigan’s U.S. Senators
  • Senator Carl Levin  Ph (202) 224-6221                                F (202) 224-1388   www.levin.senate.gov
  • Senator Debbie Stabenow Ph (202) 224-4822                      F (202) 228-0325 www.stabenow.senate.gov

NOTE:  Deliver messages by phone, fax or email.  Do not send a letter as mail addressed to federal officials is screened for toxins and can be delayed in the process.

Talking Points:

  • When the sequester cuts take place, Michigan will lose $4-5 million in federal monies for home and community-based services for seniors through the Older Americans Act.
  • The cuts will deny 6,000+ seniors nutritional meals, including 2,500 frail homebound seniors getting meals-on-wheels.  Evidence shows that poor nutrition can lead to weight loss, health problems, falls, and increased difficulty with activities of daily living.

Comments

#1 Cheryl DeYoung said:

As a new senior citizen I am very concerned what will happen with both my husband and myself when our retirement savings is gone. I hope the government will find ways to help us more. We worked hard all our lives and now we face devestation because our cost of living is too high compared to our Social Security and our Medicare costs.

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Senior Advocacy in Action Alert

8/28/2012 11:30am

Unless Congress reverses an 8.4% across-the-board cut approved last year, all discretionary federally-funded aging network programs will lose funding beginning January 2, 2013.  The official name for this cut is “sequestration,” and it was a provision of the Budget Control Act that was passed to address the growing federal budget deficit.

 

What You Can Do:

Contact your U.S. Representative and Michigan’s two U.S. Senators to express your concern about the impact of “Sequestration Cuts” on low-income seniors.  Find your U.S. Representative by going to www.house.gov and typing your zip code in the box at the top labeled “Find Your Representative.” You can also send a message directly through the website.  If you don’t have the Internet, call your local library for information.

 

Michigan’s U.S. Senators are

  • Senator Carl Levin  Phone (202) 224-6221                           Fax (202) 224-1388   www.levin.senate.gov                                                        
  • Senator Debbie Stabenow Phone (202) 224-4822                Fax (202) 228-0325  www.stabenow.senate.gov

NOTE:  Deliver messages by phone, fax or email.  Do not send a letter as mail addressed to federal officials is screened for toxins and can be delayed in the process.

 

Background:

Between $4-5 million in annual funding will be lost to Michigan just from the federal Older Americans Act, which provides congregate and home-delivered meals, in-home services, senior employment and other services.  Other discretionary federal programs would also be hit, including energy assistance, senior volunteer programs, and the Community Services Block Grant, which supports Community Action Agencies and helps low-income families.  A report released by Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) states that the sequester would eliminate 17 million meals for needy seniors nationwide.  The sequester is taking place because a bipartisan committee failed to come up with an agreement on how to save $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years.

       

Talking Points:

  • When the sequester cuts take place, Michigan will lose $4-5 million in federal monies for home and community-based services for seniors through the Older Americans Act.
  • The cuts will deny 6,000+ seniors nutritional meals, including 2,500 frail homebound seniors getting meals-on-wheels.  Evidence shows that poor nutrition can lead to weight loss, health problems, falls, and increased difficulty with activities of daily liv

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Senior Advocacy in Action Alert

5/17/2012 3:30pm

Legislators will be making 2013 budget decisions soon. Please contact them regarding funding for senior programs Right now, there are home and community based programs for older adults that work and save the state and the taxpayers millions of dollars annually – but they are underfunded.

MI Choice: Long-term care at home that saves Medicaid dollars- Medicaid-funded nursing home beds cost taxpayers on average $172/day; MI Choice allows eligible people to remain at home with supports that cost on average $52/day.  There aren't enough MI Choice dollars to meet the needs of all who wish to join; 8,000 people still wait.

MI Choice Nursing Facility Transition Program (NFTI)- NFTI transitions Medicaid clients in nursing homes who want to leave but face barriers such as not having an accessible home, or needing services and supports to stay at home. Last year, over 1,600 people were transitioned; 3,000 people still wait. Proposed funding for 2013 will only fund the program for two months, yet according to Governor Snyder’s 2012 Executive Budget, NFTI has saved the state $65 million since 2008!

In-Home Services help people manage their own resources- Office of Services to the Aging (OSA) programs help older adults stay in their own homes through programs like Meals on Wheels, home and community based services, and volunteer programs.
Money for these programs has been cut 28% ($10 million) over the past few years while demand for these services has grown.

Contact these members of the Conference Committee (listed below) and urge them to fund:


$11 million to reduce the wait list for MI Choice
$23 million for the Nursing Facility Transition Program in the MI Choice budget—to meet the goal of 1,600 transitions in 2013.
$1.1 million to Office of Services to the Aging plus a 5% increase in each of the next three years. This will partially restore the $10 million in funding cuts over the past three years.

 

Conference Committee Members:

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Senior Advocacy in Action Alert

5/10/2012 4:45pm

The Nursing Facility Transition (NFT) program is in jeopardy. The Governor’s budget allocates $11 million to serve people on the MI Choice waiting list, but only $3.1 million for NFT, enough to continue the program for only two months.  This would mean over 1,000 people would be forced to remain in nursing homes when they could live in the community at a much lower cost to the state.  An additional $22 million is needed for NFT in fiscal year 2013.    

What You Can Do:

Contact these members of the Conference Committees, thank them for their past support of MI Choice and nursing facility transitions, and ask them to approve $11 million for the MI Choice waiting list and $25 million for nursing facility transitions in the MI Choice budget for FY 2013. 

 

Here are some talking points:

  • The Nursing Facility Transition allows people to live where they choose and is cost effective, costing an average of $60/day compared with a nursing home cost of $172/day.  NFT is part of the MI Choice Medicaid home and community-based waiver.
  • Last year, the transition program helped more than 1,600 people move from a nursing home back to the community with an immediate cost savings to the state.  Each person faced barriers that prevented them from returning home on their own.
  • According to Governor Snyder’s 2012 Executive Budget, NFT has saved the state $65 million since 2008.
  • There are 8,000 people on the MI Choice waiting list.  Individuals are forced to wait many months, even years to enter the program.

Background:

The Nursing Home Transition (NFT) is part of the MI Choice Medicaid Waiver program.  NFT is a cutting edge program that has gained national attention for successfully transitioning people in nursing homes who want to leave but face barriers.  Barriers can include losing their home, not having an accessible home, and needing services and supports to stay at home.  Last year, over 1,600 people were transitioned; data suggest that every year about 3,000 people in nursing homes are candidates for NFT.    

NFT saves the state money because it targets people on Medicaid who cost an average of $172/day in a nursing home, compared with an average of $60/day in their own home.  It is estimated that $25 million will be needed next year to transition another 1,600 people. 

Legislators are now crafting the state’s FY 2013 budget, and the final decisions will be made by joint House-Senate Conference Committees.  We need to convince committee members to approve the Governor’s request for $11 million to serve the MI Choice waiting list, and also provide the $25 million in funding necessary to transition 1,600 people from nursing homes next year.

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Senior Advocacy in Action Alert

2/9/2012 10:45am

Hearing on Elder Abuse Bills Scheduled for February 21

Governor Rick Snyder supports the elder abuse legislation passed by the Senate, and urged the House of Representatives to adopt the bills in his State of the State address this January.  Representative Ken Kurtz (R-Coldwater) is holding a hearing on the 14 elder abuse bills assigned to his Families, Children and Seniors Committee.  The hearing is February 21, 2012, from 10:30 am to 12 noon in the House Office Building, 124 North Capitol Avenue, in Room 327.  We need advocates to pack the room, testify, and show their support for improvements in state laws to prevent elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation, and obtain justice for the victims when it occurs.

Because committee hearings are sometimes rescheduled, advocates driving to Lansing should confirm that the hearing will take place before making the trip.  To confirm, call Representative Kurtz’s office at 866-362-8812.   

 

What You Can Do:

You don’t have to testify to attend the hearing and lend quiet support!  If you are in the audience, you can submit a card indicating your support, which will be read by Rep. Kurtz. 

People willing to testify are encouraged to do so, of course, and can use the talking points below, or relate a personal story about elder abuse they or a relative/friend have experienced. 

Advocates who can’t attend are encouraged to call or email Rep. Kurtz (866-362-8812 or  kennethkurtz@house.mi.gov) to indicate support:

 

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.

 

Background:

Six years ago, a Governor-appointed Task Force of experts released a set of recommendations on addressing the growing, and mostly hidden, problem of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation.  Bills addressing the problem have been introduced in every session of the Legislature since but died due to inaction by one or both houses.  Last year, a renewed effort to pass the bills started in the Michigan Senate, which passed a package of 18 bills last November. 

Taken from: Area Agencies on Aging Association of Michigan Advocacy Alert

 

 

Comments

#1 Christin Bradt said:

Thank you for letting us know about this. I hope many people take the opportunity to stand up against this kind of abuse.

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Senior Advocacy in Action Alert

11/17/2011 2:15pm

Your action is needed to help prevent elder abuse!

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.  

The Senate passed a package of 18 bills in early November.  Here are a few examples:

  • Senate Bill 461 would prevent an abuser from inheriting his/her victim’s assets. 
  • Senate Bill 454 would allow vulnerable adults to provide videotaped testimony similar to laws protecting children from having to face their abusers. 
  • Senate Bill 466 would require law enforcement to publicize a missing elder similar to the Amber Alerts used for missing children 

 

Fourteen (14) of these bills are now in the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee, chaired by Rep. Ken Kurtz, and the other four bills are in the House Banking and Financial Services Committee, chaired by Rep. Marty Knollenberg.  The bills have to be reported out of these committees, and then be approved by the entire House before they can go to Governor Snyder for his signature.  Advocates are pushing for the bills to become law by Christmas as a present for older Michiganians. 

Whate You Can Do:

Contact the Chairmen of these two committees along with the Speaker of the House and ask that the bills be reported out of these committees as soon as possible!  Also contact your own Representative and ask him/her to advocate with Kurtz, Knollenberg and Bolger.

 

Here are some 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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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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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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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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