Coalition for Silver Solutions Address Elder-Care Issues

Posted on 10/31/19 by Dave Bruns

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 31, 2019

Coalition for Silver Solutions Address Elder-Care Issues, Unveil Legislative Priorities at Silver Summit

ORLANDO – The Coalition for Silver Solutions, an alliance of four Florida organizations focused on the long-term care of the state’s aging population, today unveiled its 2020 legislative recommendations at a Silver Summit in Central Florida. AARP, the Florida Health Care Association (FHCA), LeadingAge Florida, and 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East convened with leaders of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration and the Department of Elder Affairs and local lawmakers to gather public input and discuss the challenges family and professional caregivers are experiencing, the health care workforce shortage and the coalition’s short- and long-term strategies to meet the quality health care needs of Florida’s large aging population.

The short-term legislative recommendations include measures to expand funding for home and community-based care, improve nursing home Medicaid reimbursement rates, and streamline the process to assist consumers with accessing home and community-based services. By 2030, an estimated 30% of Florida’s population will be age 60 or older.

These consumer, labor and long-term care provider organizations formed the Coalition for Silver Solutions during the 2019 legislative session to help place the state’s ever-growing group of older residents at the top of the legislative priority list.

Jeff Johnson, state director of AARP Florida stated: “Florida’s population is rapidly turning silver, and our state is facing a growing demand for a higher level of long-term care services. This coalition believes in the power of our caregivers, our communities, our nursing homes, and our assisted living facilities rallying together before the Florida Legislature to make a change for those counting on us for a happy and healthy life.”

Earlier this year, FHCA released a report showing that Florida has jumped from 16th in the nation into the Top Ten in overall quality.

Added Emmett Reed, Executive Director of FHCA: “We must continue the progress our state has made to increase the level of quality care being provided to its seniors. Without sufficient funding from the Legislature, we will continue to face major challenges as we work to hire and retain skilled professionals to provide an improved level of care to Florida’s most frail residents.”

The legislative recommendations advocate for the implementation of strategies to secure funding for nursing homes and improved home and community-based care. These include measures to:

● Enhance funding for home and community-based care waiting list slots beyond the normal rate of budget growth.
● Support an inflationary increase for nursing home Medicaid rates.
● Allow individuals applying for Medicaid to gain eligibility, even if they have whole life insurance policies (a factor that currently makes them ineligible).
● Modify the process by which individuals are screened and ranked to receive home and community-based services

“As the silver wave heads toward Florida, a greater number of complex, multi-faceted needs are coming with it,” said Steve Bahmer, President and CEO of LeadingAge Florida. “The Coalition recognizes that this influx of seniors will require both short- and long-term solutions in our state, and we hope the Legislature takes these necessary steps to help Florida’s older residents.”

Some of the biggest challenges affecting nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home and community-based care providers have been identified as long-term care workforce issues. The Coalition will be planning future meetings around this specific topic in order to make recommendations that improve long-term care workforce policies regarding recruitment, retention, training, pay, and benefits.

1199SEIU Florida is the newest member of the coalition, adding a unique perspective on the challenges faced by those who work in long-term care in Florida.

“The quality of care provided in our state’s nursing homes is directly related to the level of quality talent those centers are able to recruit and retain,” said Dale Ewart, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East Vice President. “We hope to see the Legislature place value in these individuals by providing sufficient funding that allows facilities to offer competitive wages and benefits to these hard-working, dedicated professionals.”

Read more about the Coalition for Silver Solutions here.

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