A busy week my friends! This week our bill was voted upon by the House Finance Committee. Now it is relevant to note that as a member of this Committee, our Chair has placed a special emphasis on living within the means of TABOR and what the consequences of that means to discretionary spending of the General Fund. This week we were very happy to have a unanimous vote from all the Committee members, giving it strong bi-partisan support. This bill will now go to the Appropriations Committee.
HB15-1100 moves $4M of Sales Tax Revenue from the General Fund into statute for the Older Coloradans Cash Fund. This fund is administered by local councils of government and their Area Agencies on Aging (AAA). The current fund amount that these agencies budget upon is $10M and this bill would effectively increase the amount to $14M for three years.
The purpose of the fund is to help Seniors stay in their homes rather than move into state-funded nursing facilities. Transportation services such as those provided by Silver Key, Community Connections, Fountain Valley Senior Center would benefit from this fund, as do meals-on-wheels, some housekeeping services and even hygiene support, which are the most often requested services. Every AAA has a waiting list for these services.
Here’s a simple example of the benefits of this bill. A Senior served by this fund may receive an average of $6,000 annually of support, compared to an average $57,000 annually spent in a state-subsidized nursing facility that matches what is paid with Medicaid funds. Let’s compare just the cost of the fund for 100 seniors that take advantage of the AAA program. If 100 seniors spend $6,000 annually, then we have spent $600,000. Whereas, just the state’s $57,000 for 100 seniors which would be $5.7M annually. By serving Seniors through the AAA, we provide a very cost effective, highly desired service that will save the state enormous amounts of taxpayer money. As to the sunset, I see this as an opportunity to document the successful cost savings and the efficient use of taxpayer money by investing in the Older Coloradans Cash Fund.
One reason I am a Prime Co-Sponsor on this legislation is the enormous benefit the AAA provide our Seniors and the positive, responsible fiscal impact to the state. As you can see in the photo above, seniors came from all over the state to testify and support the bill. Even a representative from the Colorado Union of Taxpayers (CUT) testified to their own desire for the bill and that CUT is neutral on this bill.
The AARP supporters were very pleased. In an email from Ms. Kelli Fritts of the Colorado AARP, she says, “We knew there would be some sort of amendment promoted and we thought it was going to reduce the amount of older CO funds from an additional 4 million to 2 million but instead they kept the amount at 4 million with a 3 year sunset. Not that we are crazy about the sunset provision but we would probably be back in 3 years anyway. We had great support from some of the committee members who did not want to accept the sunset, they fought as hard as they could but in the end it was amended and all ultimately voted yes.” The credit for this hard fought battle can be given to Prime Co-Sponsor Representative Steve Lebsock (D-34).
Last year the State spent more than originally budgeted on Medicaid matching and this cost is expected to continue to grow. By supporting our AAA, we can slow the financial demand placed on our Medicaid budget and the larger cost to the state.
Here is the link to the various versions of HB15-1000. To see the latest version select “Pre-Amended” http://www.leg.state.co.us/clics/clics2015a/csl.nsf/fsbillcont3/90844DCDB8C4FFC187257DA2006181E4?open&file=1100_01.pdf