Senior Legislators Wrap It Up
Alabama's senior legislators concluded their three-day session on October 22, in the old House of Representatives Chamber in the Alabama Capitol building.
During their session they studied 58 resolutions submitted by the various members and selected 10 to submit to the Governor and the Legislature for their consideration and possible action.
The ten resolutions that had a direct impact on the State's senior population, in order of popularity, were:
Legislation to provide funding formobile medical vehicles to more fully cover the State's needs in that regard.
The second resolution, in order of importance, called for an increase in the monthly personal needs allowance of Medicaid nursing home residents.
A third called for certification and criminal background checks for all non-family, in home adult caregivers for home bound seniors.
Another resolution passed by the senior legislators called for an expansion of the training of healthcare providers who work with Alzheimer's and dementia patients.
The senior legislators also urged that nursing homes which create “Dementia Units, employ additional staff members trained in the appropriate nursing skills needed to minister to the special needs of their patients.
A perennial resolution that passed called for nursing home residents to have video cameras in their rooms to document evidence of substandard care and possible abuse.
Another resolution that emerged from the three-day session urged increased funding for the State's senior services department as well as the various area agencies on aging.
The legislators also took note of the changes that have taken place over the years as they relate to facilities that once catered to seniors who were relatively free of dependence on others to assist them in their daily activities. When the Elder Justice Act was passed a half century ago, lawmakers took the term “independent living” to mean just that. However, over the years these facilities have catered to an increasing number of seniors who, in fact, required various forms of assistance in their daily lives, but who were not afforded the protection and oversight the law mandated to residents of assisted living facilities and nursing homes. These residents may express their grievances to an “Ombudsman,” who then investigates their concern and attempts to alleviate this oversight; while residents of “independent living facilities” enjoy no such protection.
Rounding out the list of resolutions was a call for additional help for respite assistance for family members caring for dementia patients.
And the last resolution adopted recognized that 57 percent of the recipients of Medicaid payments in Alabama are seniors who reside in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities, and should be eligible for expanded services under the Affordable Care Act.
Normally the ASHL meets in the House Chamber located in the State Office Building, but that venue is temporarily closed.
For some of the delegates this will be like a homecoming, since a good many of them had close relationships of a variety of sorts with this venue. In those days the focus was on how well the State was doing with respect to educating its young people; especially so in the new integrated school environment.
Today the focus is on how well the State is handling its responsibilities toward its senior citizens, and how well the Alabama Silver-Haired Legislature can convince their legislative counterparts of the importance of insuring that the special needs of the State's senior citizens are being met.
ASHL members have been successful over the years in helping to bring about many changes to and improvements in the way the State carries out its responsibility to its senior residents.
Senior lawmakers in most states meet in this manner to propose and track legislation effecting their elderly constituency.