Legislative Priorities

THE 85TH TEXAS LEGISLATURE

Fund LOCAL GUARDIANSHIP & MONEY Management programs

In 2011, the Legislature deleted from the HHSC Budget grant funding to develop and expand local guardianship and money management programs which serve elderly and disabled Texans and now there are fewer programs in Texas.  Money management, including bill payer and representative payee services, is the most important less restrictive alternative to guardianship and allows many individuals to remain in their homes by providing this assistance.  The 2017 Legislature should set aside $750,000 per year from the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program to reestablish grants to these vital programs.

Necessary changes in adult protective services 

Adult Protective Services (APS) is an important resource in protecting older Texans.  The State of Texas needs to clarify vague statutes in regards to financial exploitation.  The statutes should make it clear that financial institutions have a duty to report financial exploitation to APS and allow financial institutions and APS to share information. Financial institutions should have administrative, civil, and criminal immunity when reporting possible financial exploitation and should have temporary refusal to disburse funds if there is a reasonable belief that the account holder is being exploited.  Finally, Texas statute only allows APS to investigate for exploitation if an older adult’s resources are being misused for someone else’s personal or monetary benefit. Texas should have a more inclusive definition of exploitation.

Elder Financial Abuse in Texas

Elder financial abuse is rampant in the United States. Seniors lose $36.48 billion each year to elder financial abuse. These crimes must be prevented, older adults need to be protected, and those committing these crimes need to be prosecuted. The state needs to 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.

Insure adequate funding for Texas senior corps programs

The Texas Senior Corps, consisting of the 50 Foster Grandparent, Senior Companion and the RSVP programs in Texas funded in part by the Corporation for National and Community Services (CNCS), recruits, places and manages almost 20,000 senior adult volunteers age 55 and older.  The Texas Senior Corps saved Texas and the organizations they served more than $147,690,000 in 2015!!  State Senior Corps funding has been held at level funding since FY 2008.  The State Legislature should support a ten percent increase in funding ($1.93M to $2.12M) for the 2017 -2019 biennium to maintain and further expand the programs.