Aging Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5284

Title:

AN ACT INCREASING FUNDING FOR ELDERLY NUTRITION.

Vote Date:

3/8/2016

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable

PH Date:

2/25/2016

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Aging Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

To provide adequate state reimbursement to cover the cost of providing meals to the elderly. Agencies providing the meals on wheels program have reported financial difficulties and financial losses in executing the program.

The bill requires the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Social Services to (1) increase the fee schedule for meals on wheels provided through the Connecticut home-care program for the elderly (CHCPE) to reflect reasonable costs of providers and minimize any copayments incurred by participants in the program; and (2) annually increase the fee schedules for the following services based on an increase in the cost of services: homemaker services, chore person services, companionship services, respite care, meals on wheels, adult day care services, case management and assessment services, transportation, mental health counseling and elderly foster care.

Additionally, the bill also changes the publishing of a “notice of intent to adopt regulations” from the Connecticut Law Journal to the internet website of the Department of Social Services and the eRegulations System.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Connecticut Department of Social Services: Opposes the bill. It is difficult to quantify “reasonable costs” or the cost of the increase in rates to reflect the increase in the cost of services. In addition, it is not unreasonable to assume costs to the Medicaid program of over $15 million and over $1 million to the Connecticut home-care program for the elderly in the first year of implementation.

Deb Migneault, Senior Policy Analyst, Connecticut's Commission on Aging: Provided comment on the bill. Due to stagnate funding in combination with rising costs, elderly nutrition providers are force to utilize a variety of approaches in response, such as putting caps on the number of meals served at sites, closing sites one or two days a week, and discontinue offering meals on weekends. Unfortunately, this creates a difficult cycle; when fewer meals are served statewide, less money comes in from the federal government because the federal government reimburses the state based on the number of meals served.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Megan Brown, Senior Director of Marketing & Development, Thames Valley Council for Community Action: The legislature has only increased the meal rate by four cents per meal since 2007. This program loses an average of $1.44 per delivered meal. “Operating a program in the red is not sustainable.” In addition, Thames Valley Council for Community (TVCCA) staff and volunteers are not reimbursed for mileage, related delivery costs, or for the prepared meals if clients are unable to receive their meal. Without increased funding, TVCCA may be forced to limit or discontinue services.

Connecticut Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Providers: Shared personal testimonies from the following individuals who receive services through meals on wheels or provide services through meals on wheels: Marilyn Balla, Pat Callen, Theodus Carroll, Jean Luce.

Debbie Kievits, Second Vice-Chairman of the Board, Thames Valley Council for Community Action: The legislature has only increased the meal rate by four cents per meal since 2007. This program loses an average of $1.44 per delivered meal. “Operating a program in the red is not sustainable.” The meals on wheels program is an inexpensive program that can prevent or delay more costly services such as hospitalizations and nursing home care. Additionally, the program provides daily check-ups for homebound seniors.

Mag Morelli, President, LeadingAge Connecticut: This program not only provides crucial daily nutritional meals to the elderly recipients, but also ensures daily visits with them in their homes.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None

Reported by: Amy Linskey/Robin Bumpen

Date: 3/10/2016