Legislative Priorities

         3.8 MILLION TEXAS SENIORS NEED YOUR HELP in 2019

Fund Guardianship Grants & Specialty Courts

The State of Texas should fund a network of Guardianship Specialty Courts that are modeled on the existing network of Child Protection Specialty Courts that are administered by the Texas Office of Court Administration (OCA).   Each Guardianship Specialty Court should have appropriate and enough specialized staff to be determined by OCA in each administrative region, and should, at a minimum, include in each court an attorney, a social worker, an auditor, and a court visitor coordinator.  The Guardianship Specialty Courts should be charged with identifying and implementing less restrictive alternatives to guardianship, and specialized guardianship mediation services.

Counties served by non-profit guardianship programs have decreased from 141 counties in 2006 to 71 counties in 2018.  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.  The Legislature should 1) appropriate $750,000 annually from the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program to reestablish grants to these vital programs, and 2) increase the limit on funding indigent guardianship services through Medicaid Applied Income from $175.00 per person per month to at least a minimum of $400.00 per month.

 

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.

 

National Criminal Background Checks for Employees Working with Frail Elders

Form a Background Check Center in Texas.  A person applying for a job, proceeds with fingerprinting and a complete check of State and Federal criminal histories.  Once the employee is hired and there is a change in the employees’ status, the BCC must contact the provider.  There will be fines for providers who elect to hire despite contra-indications to hire.

 

Increase Medicaid Reimbursement for Health Care Providers

Texas is under funding Medicaid.  This is threatening the quality of health and long-term care in Texas.  More than 56 ,000 Texans rely on Medicaid funding for their care in a nursing home.  Texas remains at the bottom of Medicaid rates across the country and increase s in provider rates for Medicaid have not kept pace with the cost of care and inflation.

 

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.