SCES Joins Elder Lobby Day Rally at the State House

More than 300 advocates rallied at the State House on Feb. 27 for Elder Lobby Day—turning out to urge lawmakers to support programs that provide vital services for older adults.

Several representatives from Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) were on the scene, asking lawmakers to support additional funding for Home Care, Elder Protective Services, and Nutrition programs.

Elder Lobby Day
SCES Director John O’Neill and Mass Home Care Director Al Norman at Elder Lobby Day 2017

“We know that the vast majority of older adults prefer to live in their homes as long as possible, and these programs play a key role by supporting health and well-being for many of those older adults,” said SCES Outreach Director Nathan Lamb. “We’re just here to advocate for how important those programs are.”

The proposals were put forward by Mass Home Care, which represents a statewide network of non-profit agencies that offer community-based supports for older adults, their caregivers, and families.

Representatives from SCES met with local lawmakers at the event, passing along the following requests:

Additional Funding for Home Care, a vital program that provides basic in-home supports. It also helps older adults avoid unwanted and expensive nursing home placements, saving MassHealth $920 million since FY2000. But the program had wait lists for part of FY17, due to budget reasons. The Home Care budget should be increased to meet growing demand.

Elder Protective Services investigates and resolves reports of abuse and neglect. PS reports have risen steadily in recent years, and new regulations require caseworkers to continue investigations, even if the older adult refuses to participate. While this program is in line to receive a modest budget increase, we’re concerned it will be insufficient to offset increased demand.

Elder Nutrition supports Meals on Wheels and congregate meals sites. This line item was essentially level-funded in the governor’s budget, and Mass Home Care predicts a 3% increase is needed to keep pace with demand.

A number of elder services programs are funded through Medicare, which covers 1.9 million people in the Bay State. Some 300,000 of those people received coverage when Medicaid was expanded under the Affordable Care Act, and Al Norman of Mass Home Care said advocates are concerned about reforms being considered at the federal level

“Elders are holding their breath, waiting to see how much damage the White House and Congress will do to Medicaid,” said Norman. “The 300 plus elder advocates who came to the State House are ready to fight to protect their health care programs. They’re not afraid to speak out against more cuts to Medicaid.”

SCES representatives will return to Beacon Hill on March 8, to participate in Adult Foster Care Awareness Day.