Legislative Advocacy Makes a Difference
The 2022 Washington State Legislature adjourned sine die (i.e., this year’s session ended) on Thursday, March 10. This session will go down as one of the best years on record for Area Agency on Aging (AAA) priorities. While we are waiting on some of the budget details from our partners at DSHS Aging and Long-Term Support Administration, I would like to share some higher-level details about our top priorities (with thanks to ADS Advisory Council coordinator Sariga Santhosh for preparing this list):
Case Management—fully funded!
- $24M ($12M State General Fund + federal match) for AAA unit rate increase. This represents an historic 23 percent rate increase.
Hospital Transitions—partially funded
- $2.1M for AAA care coordination. This will enable AAAs to demonstrate the value of this work and lay groundwork for future investments.
Personal Needs Allowance—fully funded!
- $58M State General Fund for in-home Personal Needs Allowance (raising allowance to $2,523/month). See “Advocating for Increased Personal Needs Allowance for In-Home Care,” an article by past Advisory Council chair Dick Woo in the December 2021 issue of AgeWise King County. This increase is a game changer and will enable more people to access the comprehensive services that they need AND be able to afford to stay in their homes and communities.
Other items worth noting include $4M for American Rescue Plan match, a $1.5M increase in the Senior Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program funding, and $900,000 in funding for expanding home-delivered meals.
We are also incredibly thankful for expansion of the WA Cares. Governor Jay Inslee signed two bills passed by the Legislature making key improvements to WA Cares Fund. More than a million Washingtonians will have access to quality, affordable long-term care when they need it and in the settings they prefer. Read details at WAcaresfund.wa.gov.
This list of 2022 successes is evidence that legislative advocacy makes a difference—not just by members of the ADS Advisory Council (although they are very effective champions for older people and adults with disabilities throughout King County) but also advisory councils throughout Washington state, the Washington Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the Washington State Senior Lobby, community partners statewide (here’s an extensive online list), and individuals who shared their personal stories about the challenges they or people in their care have faced.
Please join me in thanking the members of the Washington State Senate and House of Representatives as well as Governor Inslee for supporting programs and funding that help elders, individuals with disabilities, caregivers, families, and communities. We are all in this together. We are stronger together.
Contributor Joe Hailey chairs the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services. He welcomes input from readers via e-mail (email@example.com) and encourages anyone interested in joining the ADS Advisory Council to consider applying when positions open. For more information, visit www.agingkingcounty.org/advisory-council.
Photo credit (top): Olympia, a photo by Josh, was accessed at www.flickr.com/photos/amishrobot/2497796984 on March 16, 2022.
This article originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of AgeWise King County.