ATLANTA — Over 150 members from the Coalition of Advocates for Georgia’s Elderly gathered July 13 in Macon to hear 11 issues presented for consideration as priorities for the next legislative session. After casting hundreds of votes, CO-AGE members picked their 2018 priority issues.
“These are ambitious requests that tackle real problems for Georgia’s seniors,” said CO-AGE chair Vicki Johnson, of Cumming. “CO-AGE members should be very proud of the issues we will present for the 2018 legislative session.”
The group’s perennial request is for increased funding for home and community-based services — the services that keep seniors in their homes as long as possible. Its carryover request is for the creation of an abuser registry to prevent providers and families from hiring caregivers with a history of abuse.
The top budget request was for additional funding for Georgia’s Aging and Disabilities Resource Centers and the top two legislative issues are allowing Medicaid-funded assisted living and improved personal care home requirements.
Because the state continues to maintain waiting lists for home and community-based services, the need has increased for the enhanced services that ADRCs provide. CO-AGE members chose the budget ask of $4 million to strengthen the statewide network by providing more capacity to meet this growing need.
CO-AGE members chose the legislative issue of affordable housing with assisted living, submitted by Ruthie Brew of the Forsyth Senior Services, because legislation could enable the state Medicaid program to pay for assisted living in a broader way by increasing the number of facilities and available openings.
Because personal care homes across Georgia do not always comply with local licensing requirements for fire and code enforcement and put residents, staff and visitors at risk for health and safety issues, CO-AGE members want to improve those requirements. The rules currently have limits on the fines and sanctions that can be imposed when a personal care home does not follow the law.
The maximum fine is $1,000 per day per violation but can be as little as $601 for first time cause of death. Legislation could provide more options for sanctions and as well as higher penalties.