ADVOCACY

CO-AGE Issues for 2022 Legislative Session

The Coalition of Advocates for Georgia’s Elderly (CO-AGE) is a vehicle for bringing broad-based input on aging issues from across the state to the attention of the General Assembly, with the anticipated result being the improvement of quality of life for older Georgians through public policy. Every July, CO-AGE members vote to prioritize issues to bring to Georgia’s elected officials. The Georgia Gerontology Society supports CO-AGE issues.

Below is an overview of the 2022 issues. Please visit the CO-AGE website for more details. The 2022 CO-AGE Priorities brochure is now available online. Share this online brochure with your legislators and friends to educate them on our 2022 CO-AGE Priority Issues. View Here.

 

Budget Perennial Priority:

Home and Community-Based Services

Home and Community-Based Services support services that allow older Georgians to remain at home as long as possible by providing home modifications, adult day care, respite care, meals, transportation, and other services. These services cost far less than staying at a nursing home and help seniors remain independent longer. In September 2020, Governor Kemp directed every department in the state government to reduce spending by 4% in 2020 and 6% in 2021. The Department of Human Services fulfilled their directive in part by cutting funding for HCBS and the meals program as follows: Fiscal Year 2020, HCBS cut by $786,799 and meals cut by $373,546; Fiscal Year 2021, HCBS cut by $1,142,699 and meals cut by $714,739.

More than 9500 Georgians aged 60+ are on waiting lists for HCBS. As wait lists grow, service costs continue to rise. An increase in HCBS funding would keep service provider jobs in the local communities to meet the needs of an expanding older population.

Budget Priority:

Long-Term Care Ombudsman (LTCO) Program

The Long-Term Care Ombudsman (LTCO) program advocates for the residents of long-term care facilities to resolve complaints and assure residents’ rights. Many long-term care facility residents and their families are not aware the LTCO Program is free and a right of all residents living in LTC. The proposed budget of $300,000 to $500,000 would support a public awareness campaign educating Georgians about the ombudsman services. The campaign would increase the program’s visibility through various outreach methods and the statewide recruiting of volunteers. The Georgia Gerontology Society submitted the LTCO budget issue.

 

Legislative Priority:

Allow Medicaid in Assisted Living Communities

While Assisted Living Communities (ALC) provide a private pay residential option, under Georgia law, ALCs are not allowed to receive Medicaid funds. And so many Georgians cannot afford ALC care. Georgia allows for Medicaid funding only in personal care homes of up to 24 beds through either the Community Care Services Program (CCSP) or SOURCE. The ALC statute states that ALCs must have at least 25 beds. Therefore, ALC residents cannot take advantage of Home & Community Based Services through CCSP or SOURCE.

The legislation would allow older adults with limited means to access care provided in AL facilities. The legislation would amend GA’s AL community statute by removing the requirement that an assisted living community must have a minimum of 25 beds. And it would delete the prohibition of ALCs enrolling as a Medicaid provider and receiving Medicaid funds. These changes will expand choice for older Georgians by allowing seniors to live in ALCs and take advantage of home and community-based services under GA’s Elderly & Disabled Medicaid waiver.

Legislative Priority:

The Georgia Caregivers Act

Family caregivers are expected to perform increasingly complex medical/nursing tasks in the United States health system. Yet, they can feel ill-prepared to take on this crucial role. The Georgia Caregivers Act requires facilities to better inform families and caregivers of their role in the care they need to provide to their elderly loved ones. The improved communication and instructions would reduce the chance of hospital readmission. Between 2017 and 2019, AARP looked at several states that had passed the Georgia Caregivers Act. The study found greater satisfaction and confidence with care transitions, reduced unnecessary re-hospitalizations, and improved quality outcomes. The Georgia Caregivers Act provides specific guidance for ensuring that family caregivers are seen and included in the care team by hospital staff. Requirements would pertain to the individual’s stay in the hospital, details of the discharge plan, and the caregiver’s role after the discharge. It would also include instructions about carrying out the discharge plan and the medical/nursing tasks the caregiver will handle at home.

Legislative Priority:

Expand Nursing Home Options

Georgia’s Department of Community Health’s regulations for licensing new skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) are subject to the Certificate of Need (CON) requirements covering all healthcare facilities. The CON requirements are mandated to prevent oversupply based on the quantity of existing nursing home beds in a community. The mandates limit the innovative models of care. By adopting innovative models of care for Georgia’s aging population, the quality of life can be improved. This legislation would request a legislative study committee to consider changes to CON requirements to encourage person-centered care models, such as the Green House model and the CMS-approved household model with smaller communities.

GGS Sponsored Issue

If you are a GGS member and would like to submit an issue for consideration as our GGS sponsored issue for 2022, please email the GGS Executive Director at administrator@georgiagerontologysociety.org and answer the following questions.

  1. Please state the problem and why you feel it should be a priority.
  2. To the best of your knowledge, are other states doing anything about this issue?
  3. Do you have any data or evidence to support your idea?
  4. How would legislation or funding solve the problem?
  5. Are there any groups we should contact for more information about this issue?