The Advocacy Committee continued its long standing partnership with the Georgia Council on Aging and CO-AGE to support the 2018 priorities. GGS sent out advocacy alerts to assist CO-AGE in recruiting advocates to reach out to legislators on timely issues. GGS increased its role in Advocacy by co-presenting an issue for consideration to CO-AGE for the 2018 Legislative Session. While the increased rate for Adult Day Health Centers was not selected, GGS was happy to recruit legislative suggestions from our members and will continue to do so in the future. If you are a GGS member and would like to submit an issue for consideration as our GGS sponsored issue, please email Amanda James at firstname.lastname@example.org by April 20, 2018 and answer the following questions.
Through the hard work of CO-AGE, GGS, and other partners, we saw some successes this year; however, we are disappointed in the lack of new funding for Home and Community Based Services and the Aging and Disability Resource Centers in the budgets adopted by the General Assembly. There were some positive budget increases. The Personal Needs Allowance for Medicaid nursing home residents did receive a small bump, up to $65 per month from $50 per month for all of their personal needs and Adult Day Health Care centers received a rate increase along with CCSP Alternative Living Services.
Several pieces of legislation were passed that will help make older Georgians safer. SB 406 is the latest in a series of measures that the state has adopted to ensure that Georgia’s vulnerable populations are safe. It requires comprehensive FBI background checks and fingerprinting for direct care employees of nursing homes, personal care homes, assisted living communities, private home care providers and adult day care centers as recommended by the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform. It was supported by Governor Deal and was sponsored by Sen. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) who we awarded the David Levine Legislative Award yesterday.
HB 803, sponsored by Rep. Wendall Willard (R, North Fulton), prohibits trafficking of older or disabled persons. Trafficking targets vulnerable adults to gain access to their monthly benefits and perpetrate various types of abuse and fraud. The bill makes it illegal to move clients to different facilities to avoid detection by law enforcement and to take all of a client’s financial resources for their own use.
A third important piece of legislation is HB 635 which authorizes district attorneys in each judicial circuit to establish an Adult Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation Multidisciplinary Team to coordinate investigations and responses to a suspected elder or disabled adult abuse, neglect or exploitation. These multi-agency teams will be able to work collaboratively to address elder abuse or neglect.
Transit governance and funding was a popular topic this year. The transit bill, HB 930, is a big win for all Georgians. GCOA successfully advocated with sponsors to allow senior transportation services access to transit funding.
Other legislative victories that will benefit older Georgians are