Our state and region thrive when people of all ages actively participate in their communities, have equitable access to opportunities, and everyone is treated with respect, regardless of their age or ability. Those tenets drive much of the Seattle-King County Aging & Disability Services 2017 legislative agenda.
We need your help to ensure that communities in our state are “age-friendly”—places that enable people of all ages and abilities to achieve their potential. You can help by supporting:
- Affordable and accessible housing and transportation options.
- Meaningful opportunities for employment, a safe and secure retirement system, and affordable healthcare for all life stages.
- A strong system of community-based support for family caregivers, older adults, and people with disabilities, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Safeguards to prevent the abuse of our most vulnerable citizens and strengthening systems that respond to incidents of abuse.
Fortunately, we are not alone in this work. Aging and Disability Services participates in the Washington Senior Lobby—which coordinates an annual Senior Lobby Day in Olympia—and collaborates with the Washington Association of Area Agencies on Aging and AARP Washington. Follow the links to their legislative agendas.
Here are four key state legislative issues:
- Preserve and increase affordable, accessible housing—We are asking the State Legislature to invest $200 million in the Housing Trust Fund, a critical resource to increase the housing supply for seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, and low-income families. In addition, we are asking the State to make document recording fees permanent—and to increase the fees—to fund state and local homelessness services.
- Increase long-term care case management services—Washington State’s nationally-regarded system enables people to receive care in the lowest cost setting—their own homes. Over 15 years, long-term care case management services have saved the state more than $2.7 billion. We must increase support for these services—$5.18 million (plus a $10.35 million federal match) would ensure program quality and the safety and well-being of our elders. We are asking the State Legislature to support the Department of Social and Health Services’ requested rate increase for all programs across the long-term care spectrum, from case management services to adult family homes.
- Protect victims of elder abuse—We encourage the State Legislature to support legislation that would revise the definition of first, second, and third degree criminal mistreatment and create the crime of theft from a vulnerable adult. The bill would also authorize expansion of multidisciplinary teams to identify and respond to abuse, neglect, or exploitation of vulnerable adults.
- Ensure Medicaid coverage for hearing and vision—Investments in hearing and vision will result in overall health and long-term care savings. Sensory loss is associated with poor health status and cognitive decline. Washington State cut Medicaid coverage for hearing for people ages 21+ during the recession.
Washington is a leader on many of these issues, including the quality of our long-term care system—ranked 2nd in the nation for quality and cost effectiveness. Critical maintenance was neglected during the recession, and revenue is needed to ensure that the system can effectively respond to our state’s growing older population.
- Contact your legislators—by e-mail, by calling their offices, or by calling the toll-free Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000. If something in this article motivated you to call, let them know.
- Talk with family members, friends, and neighbors, and ask them to send the same message. Don’t take anything for granted—even elected officials you know you can count on need to hear from their constituents from time to time.
- Watch TVW—Washington State’s version of CSPAN—for information about current events. Similarly, King County, Seattle, Bellevue, and some suburban cities have municipal TV stations that make it easy to learn about current events.
If you have questions or would like information specific to your legislative district, contact ADS Advisory Council staff liaison Gigi Meinig at 206-684-0652 or Gigi.Meinig@seattle.gov.
Contributor David Baker is the new chair of the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services, which publishes AgeWise King County. He welcomes input from readers via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) as well as applicants for open positions on the council. For more information, visit www.agingkingcounty.org/advisory-council.
Photo credit: “Washington State Capitol” at top by jenn2d2 via Flickr Creative Commons, accessed 12/20/16 at https://www.flickr.com/photos/jenn2d2/9326776057/.
The Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services meets monthly, except January and October, and holds periodic forums. The next Advisory Council meeting is on Friday, February 10, 2017 (12:00–2:00 p.m.) in Seattle Municipal Tower, Room 4060 (700 5th Avenue, Seattle). Meetings are open to the public. Agendas are available within a week of the meeting. For more information or to request an accommodation, contact Gigi Meinig at email@example.com or 206-684-0652.
Seattle residents are encouraged to participate in the City of Seattle’s Housing Affordability and Livability (HALA) urban village community design workshops in January. To find a HALA event near you, click here.