The 2023 Legislature passed several bills to help kupuna, including legislation to help homeless kupuna get off the streets, a Safe Routes to School bill that should make streets safer for pedestrians of all ages, tax credits for some caregivers and funding for caregiver services.
While many of the bills are good first steps to improve the lives of caregivers and kupuna, there’s more that could have been accomplished. So we give lawmakers a grade of B+ for their efforts with a solid chance to improve their grades next session.
Here are some of the Legislative highlights in 2023:
House Bill 1397/Senate Bill 898: HB 1397 creates a pilot supportive housing program that will provide supportive services and supplemental rent to help homeless individuals with disabilities transition to permanent housing. SB 898 expands the State Rent Supplement Program for people 62 and older and are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
House Bill 300: The state budget contains funding for Kupuna Care program to help family caregivers and increased Medicaid payments to the same level as Medicare patients. The higher payments should make it easier for patients to find doctors willing to take Medicaid. However, House Bill 1486, which would have increased funding for Kupuna Care did not pass.
House Bill 600: Establishes and funds the Safe Routes to School Advisory Committee, which will advise the state Department of Transportation on traffic safety and select and fund projects to improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. AARP believes that by improving road safety for keiki also improves safety for pedestrians of all ages.
Senate Bill 900, Senate Bill 1592: These bills fund three positions in the State Health Insurance Assistance Program and three positions in the Senior Medicare Patrol to help kupuna navigate Medicare and fight Medicare fraud.
House Bill 278: The measure gives $1 million for an Alzheimer’s and dementia public health campaign.
House Bill 954: Some families with adult dependents and children can claim higher state tax credits for childcare and caregiving expenses. However, the percentage of the expenses that can be claimed does not change. So the amounts that can be claimed are limited. The bill does expand the food and excise tax credit and the earned income tax credit which will help working families.
We’ll be asking lawmakers to do more next year to help family caregivers, who save the state – and taxpayers money by providing unpaid care that allows loved ones to live at home, where they want to be, instead of expensive nursing homes. A recent AARP report estimates that 154,000 family caregivers in Hawai`i provide $2.6 billion worth of unpaid family care. In addition, families spend their own money – an average of $7,242 annually on caregiving expenses.
AARP is fighting for a caregiving tax credit in Congress and we believe the state should also provide a better tax credit for family caregivers. If you want to join our fight for kupuna and caregivers, contact Audrey Suga-Nakagawa, the AARP Hawai`i advocacy director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally appeared in The Hawaii Herald.
This story is provided by AARP Hawaii. Visit the AARP Hawaii page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
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