Senior Advocacy in Action Alert
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.
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.
- 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
Kent County Senior Millage Letter of Intent No Longer Accepted
Kent County Senior Millage Letters of Intent were due on July 30, 2012 for the 2013 funding process. The Kent County Millage Review Committee is reviewing the documents and will notify those who have been selected to submit a full proposal.
Letters of Intent for will not be accepted again until July 1, 2013 for the 2014 funding process.
Kent County Senior Millage Letters of Intent
AAAWM is accepting Letters of Intent for 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 Monday, July 30, 2012. Clicke here to access the Letter of Intent
There will be an informational meeting to answer any questions about the Letter of Intent on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. in the AAAWM conference room A at 1279 Cedar NE, Grand Rapids, MI. Questions can be submitted prior to the meeting to email@example.com. 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 10, 2012 if they are permitted to complete a full proposal. Proposals will be due September 10, 2012. Meetings with the KCMRC will be October 8, 9 or 10, 2012. Please save those dates to ensure your availability to give a short presentation to the KCMRC.
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 2013 compared to the $6.4 million allocated in 2012.
Funding decisions are guided by current needs and community priorities. To learn more go to providers/kent_county_senior_millage_providers and look under Resources.
Questions about Continuation Funding Forms can be directed to your contract coordinator or Jackie O’Connor at 616.222.7002 or at Jackie@aaawm.org.
When is there too much stuff-training on hoarding
Hoarding has gotten a lot of attention lately as reality TV shows bring viewers into the homes of people who are hoarding. Often there are deeper issues than a mere attachment to things and it those concerns must be dealt with.
“When is there too much stuff? –Older Adult Hoarders and Safety Issues" brings in local experts to discuss the psychology involved as well as practical steps to take when dealing with an older adult who is hoarding. Experts from the Health Department, Animal Control, Adult Protective Services and the Grand Rapids Fire Department will educate professionals on how best to handle these situations to get individuals the help they need.
Training will take place Thursday, June 21, 2012 from 1:00-3:00 p.m. Registration required by June 15, 2012. For more information click here. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions. (Training is complimentary for Kent County Senior Millage Providers; otherwise there is a $5.00 fee for other attendees)
Senior Services Input Needed
"The commission is seeking comments from older adults, their caregivers and social service agencies to help shape programs and target financial resources." Read the entire article from Mlive.
Tax Preparation Options for 2012
Senior Neighbors will no longer be offering assistance with taxes. However, they have compiled a list of resources older adults can contact for help with tax preparation. Senior Neighbors’ outreach workers will help seniors problem solve tax issues through appropriate referrals, like they do with many other concerns. To contact Senior Neighbors, call (616) 459-6019 or visit www.seniorneighbors.org
H&R Block is willing to go to senior housing sites and senior centers and provide tax services like Senior Neighbors has done for the past several years. They are willing to assist the seniors using the same suggested donation schedule Senior Neighbors used last year. The contact person at H&R Block is Carl Underhill. He has been volunteering with Senior Neighbors the last couple of years helping with its tax program, so he is familiar with how the program has operated. Carl can be reached at 616-669-2081 or at email@example.com
AARP will continue to operate their senior tax program at the Baxter Community Center. They have the capacity to help many seniors with their tax forms at the Baxter Center and can be reached during tax season at 616-456-8593. Phil Quist is the contact at Baxter. For more information, visit http://www.aarp.org/money/taxes/ .
The Kent County Tax Credit Coalition operates over 20 sites to assist people with tax forms. For more information, call 211 or check this link: http://www.hwmuw.org/media/KCTCC_Coupon_English_2011.pdf
Snowflakes, Seniors and Scams
Around the winter months, like all of us, seniors may be more susceptible to scams that prey on persons needing to stay warm or to protect their health during frigid weather. However, during this time older adults can increase their knowledge about how to avoid being taken advantage of and ensure a safe and warm winter season.
Tips for seniors to avoid scams:
- Always ask for information in writing and read documents carefully before signing. When asked to sign a contract, consider taking the document home and read it without stress. If comfortable with the terms and conditions, return the next day with it signed.
- If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. During the winter months many places offer great bargains on items to keep warm and healthy. Unless it is a reputable, familiar business, stay away from deals that are “too good to pass up” and always read the fine print.
- Protect yourself and your medical and financial information. Do not disclose this information over the phone. This has long been a popular tool used by con artists to gain access to personal information. Financial and medical institutions do not ask for this information over the phone.
- Do your research before working with a new organization or individual. Many community resources exist to help seniors advocate for themselves. Contact your local Agency on Aging, the Better Business Bureau, legal assistance programs or family and friends you trust for more information on an organization. If something makes you uncomfortable, don’t do it.
For other ways to combat fraud and abuse, visit the Senior Advocacy in Action Alert and contact your state Representative about pending legislation.
Senior Advocacy in Action Alert
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.
- Representative Ken Kurtz (866) 362-8812 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Representative Marty Knollenberg (877) 248-0001 email@example.com
- Speaker Jase Bolger (877) 265-4371 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Senior Odyssey of the Mind teams are now forming and they need you! Click here for more details on how to get involved and join in the fun!
Senior Advocacy in Action Alert
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):
- Justin Amash 225-3831 www.amash.house.gov
- Dan Benishek 225-4735 www.benishek.house.gov
- Dave Camp 225-3561 www.camp.house.gov
- Hansen Clarke 225-2261 www.hansenclarke.house.gov
- John Conyers 225-5126 www.conyers.house.gov
- John Dingell 225-4071 www.dingell.house.gov
- Bill Huizenga 225-4401 www.huizenga.house.gov
- Dale Kildee 225-3611 www.kildee.house.gov
- Sander Levin 225-4961 www.house.gov/levin
- Thaddeus McCotter 225-8171 www.mccotter.house.gov
- Candice Miller 225-2106 www.candicemiller.house.gov
- Gary Peters 225-5802 www.peters.house.gov
- Mike Rogers 225-4872 www.mikerogers.house.gov
- Fred Upton 225-3761 www.upton.house.gov
- Tim Walberg 225-6276 www.walberg.house.gov
U.S. Senators from Michigan:
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.
- 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