Legislative Priorities

      TEXAS SENIORS NEED YOUR HELP in 2021

    Elder Financial Abuse in Texas

Condensed: 

The 2015 True Link Report on Financial Elder Abuse found that seniors lose $36.48 billion each year to elder financial abuse, more than twelve times previous reports. Approximately 36.9% of seniors are affected by financial abuse in any five-year period. The Elder Financial Safety Center in Dallas, TX has three entities collaborating to improve the financial security of older citizens. Overall, the Center has served 19,052 clients and has kept $78 million in older Texans’ pockets since 2014.

The state should authorize and help fund five pilot programs that include prevention, protection, and prosecution services to their communities.

If the roughly 3,100 counties in the United States had access to the Elder Financial Safety Center model, this would save older adults over $83 billion dollars, of which nearly $7 billion would remain in the pockets of older Texans. The State of Texas should fund the expansion of the Elder Financial Safety Center model.

Comprehensive: 

Elder financial abuse is rampant in the United States. As 10,000 people turn 65 per day and scams evolve, this problem will only continue to grow and become more complex.  The 2015 True Link Report on Financial Elder Abuse found out that seniors lose $36.48 billion each year to elder financial abuse, more than twelve times what was previously reported.

Approximately 36.9% of seniors are affected by financial abuse in any five-year period. These scams can come from various different avenues, from a phone call telling an older adult that he has won a large sum of money to a child of an older adult using power of attorney rights to siphon funds away
from a parent.

These crimes need to be prevented, older adults need to be protected, and those committing these crimes need to be prosecuted. This can happen if our communities collaborate to make the financial security of our older citizens a priority.  For example, the Elder Financial Safety Center is a
first-of-its-kind center based in Dallas and has three entities collaborating to improve the financial security of older citizens. The Senior Source, a social service agency, provides prevention services like financial counseling, benefits assistance, insurance counseling, scams, fraud, and identity theft presentations, money management and employment services, and various
other services to assist older adults in Dallas County to be more financially secure. Another collaborator in the Elder Financial Safety Center is the Dallas County Probate Court that provides protection through guardianship for vulnerable aging adults who are no longer able to understand their finances due to deterioration of their executive function or to protect themselves from exploitation. The final collaborator is the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office that has an independent unit committed to investigating and prosecuting financial exploitation cases. Overall, the Center has served 19,052 clients and has kept $78 million in older Texans’ pockets since 2014. The Center has empowered 33,019 people across the nation providing financial literacy education and using models the Center created to teach other communities how to develop a center. The secured $78,000,000 in our community was through employment, asset protection, public benefits, and more. There were 63 vulnerable seniors who were protected from unfit guardians or guardians no longer able to serve and achieved 1,341 indictments for elder financial abuse.

The state should authorize and help fund five pilot programs that include prevention, protection and prosecution services to their communities. The pilot programs should be in diverse communities with different resources and services to evaluate how the model can be adapted in different communities. An external evaluator will also be appointed to evaluate and collect outcomes data.

If the roughly 3,100 counties in the United States had access to the Elder Financial Safety Center model, this would save older adults over $83 billion dollars, of which nearly $7 billion would wind up in the pockets of older Texans. This is why the state should test the Elder Financial Safety
Center model.

 Texas Senior Corps/AmeriCorps Seniors

Condensed:

Texas Senior Corps/AmeriCorps is a proven, effective, and cost-saving approach to issues of many Texans regardless of age. By recruiting, managing, and supporting adult volunteers over the age of 55, RSVP, Foster Grandparents and Senior Companion programs provide well over 15,000 volunteers to serve our state. With an 8:1 return in investment for Texas, almost 1,300 non-profits, schools and healthcare facilities can more effectively address education and school readiness, access to care, Veterans, military families, while promoting healthy living. COVID-19 has increased needs and costs of operation. Senior Corps has managed without a legislative increase since 2008, but a new normal is being established and service delivery must be redefined across the entire state.

To meet the growing demands and related costs, support for a 10% legislative increase is needed from $965,000 to $1,061,500.

The $1,061,500 investment (reflecting a 10% increase) will generate services valued at approximately $80,000,000 to the residents of Texas based on 3 million hours of service at a federally estimated rate of $24.60.

Comprehensive:

Texas Senior Corps/AmeriCorps is a proven effective, cost-saving approach to many Texas issues, by providing high quality programs and citizen service to meet community needs. By recruiting, managing and supporting adult volunteers over the age of 55, RSVP, Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion programs provide well over 15,000 volunteers to serve our state. With an 8:1 return in investment for Texas, almost 1,300 non-profits, schools and healthcare facilities can more effectively address education and school readiness, access to care, Veterans, military families, while promoting healthy living. It also builds non-profit capacity, supports youth development, increases healthy aging in place and independent living, provides nutrition and assists with disaster recovery. Covid-19 has increased needs and costs of operations.

Foster Grandparent volunteers help children in their communities develop academic and life skills critical to their development and future success. They serve as tutors, mentors, and role models to children at risk of falling behind in school, and to those with physical disabilities and/or other special needs. The intergenerational exchanges that occur build lasting bonds that benefit those who perform the service and those being served.

Senior Companion volunteers help other older adults, most of whom are homebound, live fuller and more independent lives. They provide companionship and assistance with daily tasks such as shopping or paying bills while providing respite to family caregivers. As a result, many seniors can maintain their independence longer. Families can sustain their employment and institutional care is postponed.

RSVP is one of America’s largest volunteer networks for people aged 55 and older. Volunteers use their skills and experience to tackle a diverse range of activities. Volunteers recruit and manage other volunteers, mentor and tutor disadvantaged children, respond to natural disasters, support workforce development by providing job readiness training, offer free tax preparation, and much more.

Not only does Senior Corps/AmeriCorps programs helps others, but participation in the program contributes to the improvement of the lives of the volunteers themselves. Volunteers reported a 46% improvement in health and a 63% decrease in anxieties related to isolation.

The University of Texas researched and found that these programs strengthen and impact the overall health of a community by providing manpower, skills, experience, and solutions. COVID-19 19 is re-defining our programs and all our communities. The needs are growing. Since 1981, The State of Texas has understood the impact these volunteers have made and supported the programs with continued funding. However, Senior Corps has managed without a legislative funding increase since 2008, but a new normal is being established and service delivery will be redefined across the state. To meet the growing demands and continuation of programs, support for a 10% legislative increase is needed from the current $965,000 to a requested $1,061,500.

Texas Senior Corps/AmeriCorps have consistently provided well over 3 million hours annually of tracked services at a federally estimated value of $24.60 per hour (independentsector.org) to Texas for many years. The $1,061,500 investment (reflecting a 10% increase) will generate services valued at approximately $80,000,000 million to the residents of Texas.

Many Older Texans Need Medicaid Expansion

Condensed:

The Texas Legislature should enhance the support and health of all its citizens and the communities in which they reside by passing a bill in support of Medicaid Expansion. Of the 2.2 million uninsured low-wage Texas adults who have no health insurance, many of these individuals are older Texans who have lost their jobs or are no longer able to work and are too young for Medicare. By implementing Medicaid expansion, Texas would draw down $10 billion or more per year in federal health funding. The funding will help the economy recover from the current recession. The expansion would create and save health care jobs. A 2013 study estimated such a program would generate 231,000 new Texas jobs by 2016.

The Texas Legislature should pass Medicaid Expansion; or pass a constitutional amendment allowing Texas voters to decide on Medicaid Expansion.

Texas could implement a traditional Medicaid expansion program or design its own health coverage solution with Medicaid expansion funding through a Medicaid 1115 Waiver.

Comprehensive:

Of the 2.2 million uninsured low-wage Texas adults who have no health insurance, many of these individuals are older Texans who have lost their jobs or are no longer able to work and are too young for Medicare. There are also older adults 65 and older that do not have Medicare.

Adults between the ages of 55 and 64 are “the largest and most easily identifiable segment of the [medically] high-risk population,” accounting for two-thirds of all deaths and more than one-third of all surgical procedures and hospital days among all adults under 65 years of age (Jensen, 1992). This is the age group most likely to report fair or poor health status, the presence of chronic disease, or the presence of a limiting condition or disability (Brennan, 2000). In this age group, women are more likely than men to be uninsured and to suffer worse health (Monheit et al., 2001).

Reducing the uninsured rate is critical for detecting and stopping cancer, managing mental health challenges, treating substance use disorders, and addressing other health needs. Research shows that when people have insurance, they are healthier and less likely to die prematurely.

Bringing Medicaid expansion dollars into Texas would help reboot our struggling state economy, help rural hospitals stay open, create jobs, and take pressure off property taxes. By implementing Medicaid expansion, Texas would draw down $10 billion or more per year in federal health funding. The funding would help the economy recover from the current recession. It would create and save health care jobs. A 2013 study estimated it would generate 231,000 new Texas jobs by 2016. It could prevent more closures of rural hospitals. It would reduce the need for local governments to use property tax revenue to provide health care services to uninsured residents. It would also cut down the amount of uncompensated care that hospitals provide. These are some of the reasons that so many Texas leaders from the business community, local government, and other sectors have endorsed Medicaid expansion.

The Texas Legislature can pass Medicaid Expansion; or the Legislature can pass a constitutional amendment allowing Texas voters to decide on Medicaid Expansion. Texas can implement a traditional Medicaid expansion program or design its own health coverage solution with Medicaid expansion funding through a Medicaid 1115 Waiver.
The Texas Legislature should look out for the health of all its citizens and their communities by passing a bill in support of Medicaid Expansion.