Members of the Aging and Disability Services (ADS) Advisory Council are gearing up for the 2023 Washington State legislative season. This follows a historic 2022 session that saw many advocacy wins for long-term care services and supports.
The 2023 session that convenes on January 9 will run 105 days until April 24 (sine die—a Latin term legislative bodies use that means “without day,” indicating no future resumption date is designated). Session details are still in development; however, advocates anticipate a hybrid legislative session that will include options for engaging in person and remotely (e.g., remote bill testimony, hybrid office meetings). This will ensure that folks who have a difficult time getting to Olympia will still be able to make their voices heard virtually, which was one of the positive outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic as the legislature was pushed to online operations. We also know that many advocates are looking forward to in-person advocacy opportunities.
Washington Association of Area Agencies on Aging (W4A), the state association for the 13 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) in Washington state, will advocate for three main priorities this session:
- AAA Medicaid Case Management Funding: After decades of flat funding, the 2022 Legislature increased funding by 23 percent for AAA Medicaid Case Management programs. This long overdue investment ensures parity between AAA and state programs and enables AAAs to achieve 75:1 caseload ratio (clients per case worker). W4A will pursue legislation this session to codify parity in statute so that AAAs do not lose ground over time.
- Health Home Program: The Health Home Program provides care coordination for dual-eligible clients living in their homes (Medicaid/Medicare) with expensive chronic health issues. Between 2013 and 2020 (the first seven years of the program), Health Home care coordinators reduced client visits to hospitals, emergency rooms, and nursing home visits and saved Medicare $293 million. AAAs will request rate increases to the Health Home program to accommodate rising costs and the challenges of recruiting and retaining qualified workers.
- Dementia Resource Catalyst program: In 2021, the Legislature funded pilot sites at two AAAs (Aging and Long-Term Care of Eastern Washington and Northwest Regional Council) to create or enhance dementia-specific services for families and caregivers. Funding for the original Dementia Resource Catalyst sites is allocated until June 30, 2023. AAAs will support the state’s request to secure additional funding and expand program to two additional AAAs sites (for a total of four programs in 2023).
As the eyes and ears of King County’s aging population, the ADS Advisory Council will also support policy and budget items that support healthy and safe aging that include but are not limited to:
- Accessible and affordable housing and homelessness prevention
- Social isolation and digital equity
- Affordable healthcare
- Public health investments and social determinants of health
- Climate change and the rise of extreme weather events
Anyone interested in learning more about the Advisory Council’s year-round advocacy is invited to subscribe to the Aging King County email listserv and/or to join monthly Advocacy Committee meetings (second Fridays of the month from 10:00–11:30 a.m.).
Contributor Sariga Santhosh is a planner at Aging and Disability Services who staffs the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services. To learn more about the Advisory Council, click here.
Photo at top of the Washington State Legislative Building across Olympia’s Capitol Lake is “The Ledge fractal,” by Jason Taellious, accessed 11/21/2022 on Flickr Creative Commons.