JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT
AN ACT EXPANDING ELIGIBILITY FOR THE ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE RESPITE CARE PROGRAM.
SPONSORS OF BILL:
Rep. Cara Christine Pavalock, 77th Dist.
Rep. Mitch Bolinsky, 106th Dist.
Sen. Kevin C. Kelly, 21st Dist.
REASONS FOR BILL:
To expand eligibility for the Alzheimer's disease respite care program to $50,000.
The bill increases the income eligibility for the Alzheimer's disease respite care program to $50,000 and removes the “within available appropriations” language from current statute. Currently, the income eligibility is $44,591.
RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:
Deb Migneault, Senior Policy Analyst, Connecticut's Legislative Commission on Aging: Provided comment on the bill. Increasing eligibility without commensurate funding would be detrimental to current program participants.
Elizabeth B. Ritter, Commissioner, State Department on Aging: Opposes the bill. Public Act 09-75 already requires annual adjustments to the eligibility parameters to reflect Social Security cost-of-living adjustments. The Connecticut Statewide Respite Care Program is a needs-based, diseased specific program utilized by individuals who may not qualify for any other program. Increasing the program eligibility without additional appropriations would likely reduce the amount of funds available to serve low income clients.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:
Rich Bright, Volunteer, AARP: Respite is a major unmet need for caregivers who must balance work, medical appointments, household management, and other family obligations. AARP's Public Policy Institute estimates that family caregivers in Connecticut provide $5.9 billion worth of services per year.
Jean Caron, Volunteer, AARP: Shared personal testimony as a caregiver for her 96 year old mother and testified on behalf of a fellow caregiver who was unable to attend the public hearing, William. William's wife receives services through the State Wide Alzheimer's Respite Care program and has access to adult day care and other forms of respite.
Connecticut Association of Adult Day Services: Respite care is cost effective to the state of Connecticut and is invaluable to spouses, relatives, or close friends giving care. Caregivers provide countless hours of unpaid long term care, and save Medicaid millions and possible billions of dollars every year.
Dr. Wayne Detzler: Shared personal testimony as a fulltime caregiver to his wife. There are more than 400,000 family caregivers in Connecticut. Caregivers are unprepared and untrained for the task of caregiving. The greatest need for caregivers is brief respite.
Toni Marie Dumaine: Shared personal testimony as a caregiver for her mother. Caregivers need time to themselves to maintain their physical health, mental health, and to attend to their own families.
Marureen McIntyre, Executive Director, North Central Area Agency on Aging: Shared personal testimony of Ellie Candelaria and her husband Jaime who lives with Alzheimer's. Ms. Candelaria works full time and is concerned what would happen if she were to ever get sick. Additionally, their daughter Sasha left college in order to return home to help take care of the family.
Mag Morelli, President, LeadingAge Connecticut: Many elders with dementia receive countless hours of unpaid long term care from their spouse, relative, or close friends. Providing these unpaid caregivers with needed respite is the prudent thing to do as they save the state's Medicaid program millions of dollars every year.
Mary Tibbals, Public Policy Manager, Alzheimer's Association, Connecticut Chapter: Alzheimer's is the 6th leading cause of death. Seventy-three thousand residents ages 65 and older live with this disease in Connecticut. The association supports the expansion of eligibility due to the prevalence and projected increases of individuals that will develop the disease. This bill will support caregivers experiencing compromised health, emotional stress, and physical demands resulting from their caregiving responsibilities.
Michael K. Tobin, Volunteer Ambassador, Alzheimer's Association: Shared personal testimony of how the Alzheimer's disease respite care program allowed him and his family to survive when his wife was diagnosed with Younger Onset Alzheimer's. Grants received allowed his wife access to adult day care five days a week.
NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:
Reported by: Richard Ferrari/Robin Bumpen