MACo Legislative Director Natasha Mehu submitted testimony to the House Appropriations Committee on February 11, 2020 to support with amendments HB 498 – Department of Aging – Grants for Aging-in-Place Programs – Funding.
The bill boosts funding for local aging efforts by requiring the Governor to appropriate at least $1 million annually for state grants to support aging-in-place programs. However, the bill also sets requirements that limit its use by mandating that 10% of the annual appropriation be used to support senior villages –- a restriction counties argue is unwarranted.
From the MACo Testimony:
Counties appreciate the increased funding as Local Area Agencies on Aging serve an important role planning and coordinating services for the State’s senior residents through various programs, including those that support aging in place. These programs help those older residents stay in their homes as they age, maintaining their independence and security in a cost-efficient way.
It is important that the funding be used to target local needs such as ensuring that lower income residents are also afforded the opportunity to benefit from aging-in-place programs. Counties are concerned the funding allotted for Senior Villages could be diverted to support programs focused on high-income seniors who are not in need of the additional governmental support rather than providing aid to those who are lower income and in greater need of assistance.
To address these concerns, MACo proposes amendments that would provide flexibility to the grant funds by authorizing rather than requiring a portion of the funding be used for senior villages. This would help ensure that grants awarded to county agencies are able to address the unique aging populations and needs in each county.
Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2020 legislative session on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.