February 25, 2016 was a beautiful day in Olympia, not only because of the weather but because the 2016 Senior Lobby Day was successful. Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services (ADS) members Marsha Andrews and Eric Martenson, former Advisory Council member Dave Rogers, pending Advisory Council Member Sue Weston and I made the trek, accompanied by Aging and Disability Services director Maureen Linehan and members of her staff.
The Advisory Council and staff coordinated legislative appointments with several community partners, including Bellevue Network on Aging, Kirkland Senior Council, Sound Generations, Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action, Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, SHAG, and the Greenwood Senior Center. Our collaboration ensured that each appointment included a number of constituents with a focus on aging issues. Many of the issues are similar, and the variety of perspectives created lively discussions.
Highlights included meeting with Senator Maralyn Chase (32nd District), who listened well, looked up Medicaid Hearing Coverage and, after our concerns were laid to rest, spoke to us about the components of personal income, which make the basis of her proposal for a state income tax.
Although it can be hard to tell where and how our efforts pay off, we appreciated our legislators’ courtesy and thoughtfulness. State Representative Brady Walkinshaw (43rd District) was pulled off the floor to meet with our group, which included several from Sound Generations. We also spoke with aides to State Representatives Cindy Ryu (32nd District), Judy Clibborn (41st District), and Jessyn Farrell (46th District).
I felt we had a positive effect on the CARE Act (SB 6327 and HB 2424), which would provide primary unpaid caregivers with information and training to help their family member or friend transition from hospital to home, and prevent costly readmissions or placement in skilled nursing facilities. That legislation appears to be well on its way to approval.
Our advocacy also heightened awareness of the Medicaid Hearing coverage. We heard that Medicaid Hearing Coverage may be put back in the budget—thanks in great part of the efforts of Senator Karen Keiser (33rd District)—so it has some chance of passing.
We also discussed 1499-S2, which would strengthen criminal statutes for abuse of vulnerable adults to include financial exploitation; increase penalties for abuse; and create multidisciplinary teams to consult with one another and share records that are relevant to the prevention or treatment of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of vulnerable adults.
Other topics included:
- Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program—increased funding.
- Overtime pay for individuals who provide in-home care to Medicaid Case Management clients.
- Restoration of lost Case Management capacity.
- Funding for a long-term care financing study, as recommended by the Joint Legislative Executive Committee on Aging.
- Medicaid coverage for hearing aids to significantly improve the health and quality of life of older adults, which is associated with depression, lessened health status, loss of independence and cognitive decline, resulting in overall health care savings.
- Age-friendly communities—we believe that state and local governments will need to pay significant attention to creating communities that provide housing and transportation options and support for a healthy, active and engaged community—all ages!
- Continued supportive services for our state’s estimated 850,000 unpaid family caregivers and kinship caregivers—the backbone of our long-term support system.
Perhaps it’s natural for elected officials to under-promise, but I didn’t feel much enthusiasm for anything that required more money. I hope our legislators will over-deliver!
Learn more about our advocacy efforts at www.agingkingcounty.org/advisory-council/advocacy.htm. These were complemented by the Washington State Association of Area Agencies on Aging (W4A) 2016 priorities that includes help people age in place in their homes and communities; protection and support for vulnerable adults; and promotion of healthy aging and a secure future for all residents. See also the Washington Senior Citizens Lobby legislative priorities.
For more information about Senior Lobby Day and our Advisory Council’s work, contact Aging and Disability Services planner Gigi Meinig (email@example.com).
Contributor Molly Holmes is the chair of the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services, which publishes AgeWise King County. Molly 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.
Additional photo credits: State capitol (top) and Molly Holmes’ photo (right) by Lorraine Sanford.
|The Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services meets monthly, except January and October.