Senior Tar Heel Legislature
2004 Legislative Priorities
- Restore the $1 million in funding cut
in 2003 from the Home and Community Care Block Grant.
Home and community-based services help impaired older adults stay in their
homes. Key services include home-delivered meals, adult day care/day health
care, in-home aide, and respite care for family caregivers. As the older
population continues to grow, so does the demand for services. Those in
particular need of services are the over 117,000 older adults in the state
who are 85 and older and those who are disabled. More than a quarter of
the persons age 65 and older living in the community have two or more physical
or mental conditions that make it difficult for them to do such activities
as walking, dressing, and bathing. Although there is an increased need
for services, the state is losing ground in its effort to help frail older
people in the community. State funding for home and community based services
has not increased since 1998-99 – in fact, funding for these programs was
also reduced by $1 million in 2003. During the last three years, there
has been a decline in the number of persons served and the number of services
provided through the Home and Community Care Block Grant. Currently, some
counties in the state are reporting waiting lists for these services in
excess of 400.
- Pass legislation to make the tax credit
for long-term care insurance permanent.
The General Assembly passed legislation in 1998 to allow individuals who
purchase a long-term care insurance policy to claim a state income tax
credit. The purpose of the credit was to encourage more people to purchase
long-term care insurance policies which assist with the cost of in-home
and nursing home care. This credit is 15% of the premium paid, not to exceed
$350 for each qualified long-term care insurance contract. The credit was
effective for the tax year which began on January 1, 1999. The legislation
had a sunset provision which stipulated that the credit expired for taxable
years beginning on or after January 1, 2004. Therefore, unless action is
taken by the General Assembly in the short session, this credit can no
longer be taken after 2003.
- Take steps to ensure that the Medicaid Community Alternatives
Program for Disabled Adults (CAP/DA) remains a viable service for
older and disabled adults in our state.
CAP/DA is one of four programs under Medicaid which provides home and community
care as a cost-effective alternative to institutionalization. The program
provides a package of services to allow disabled adults age 18 and older
who qualify for nursing home care to remain in their private residences.
Because of the budget shortfall in the Medicaid program, a freeze was placed
on the CAP/DA program October 1, 2001, and efforts were initiated to closely
examine the program and its operation. The freeze has been partially lifted
and as of February 2004, there were over 9200 persons being served through
the program. Prior to the freeze, 10,131 persons were receiving CAP/DA
services. Because of the critical role that CAP/DA plays in addressing
the long-term care needs of our state’s older and disabled adults, the
General Assembly is urged to maintain support for CAP/DA and to look at
ways to enhance the operation of the program.
- Restore funding for the development and operation of senior
centers to the 2001-2002 level.
There are 158 senior centers in North Carolina currently operational or
under development in 95 counties in the state. These centers provide a
variety of programs and services to enhance the health and wellness of
older adults and to support their efforts to remain independent in their
communities. For 2002-2003, the state appropriation for senior centers
was cut by $381,000. The General Assembly took action in the 2003 legislative
session to restore $100,000 of this cut for the 2003-2004 SFY, but increased
the match on the state funds from 10% to 25%. Currently, there is only
$1,062,316 appropriated to support senior centers. Many senior centers
have had to reduce the variety of activities and services they offer, reduce
operating hours or days, close satellite locations, reduce outreach to
older adults in remote areas, and delay needed maintenance and repairs
to facilities and equipment because of the cuts in funding.
- Take steps to ensure that national criminal background
checks for employees of long term care facilities are completed.
State legislation was first passed in 1996, and expanded in 2000, to require
criminal background checks of applicants for employment in long term care
facilities. In meeting the requirements for background checks, a problem
has been identified in obtaining national criminal background check information.
Current federal law does not permit the FBI to release background check
data to adult care homes or to nursing homes for staff other than those
involved in direct patient care. For this reason, legislation was passed
in 2001 and again in 2002 and 2003 which imposed a moratorium on the criminal
records check law until a system for receiving the checks from the FBI
can be worked out. The moratorium is currently extended to January 1, 2005.
Action needs to be taken to ensure that any problems in obtaining national
criminal background checks are addressed and steps are taken so that this
data can be received by all long-term care facilities in North Carolina
and for all employees of those facilities. Residents in long-term care
facilities are some of our state’s most vulnerable citizens, and this action
is needed to help protect them.
Last updated February 19, 2004