South High School

Seniors Issues, CSLC

"While there is a lower class, I am in it.
While there is a criminal element, I am of it.
While there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
                    -Eugene V. Debs-



Colorado has a growing older adult population, with the number of residents 60 and over expected to rise by 49% during the 20-year period from 2010-2030.  We need to act with foresight to ensure that essential senior services are accounted for in our budget.  Part of this foresight involves making budget commitments in the legislature, presenting and passing bills that ensure consistent funding, rather than a year-to-year battle for a line-item appropriation that has limited life and security.

Chief among the goals for providing adequate services to seniors is the goal of keeping people living where they want to live – in their homes and as a part of their communities.  Meeting that goal requires vigilance in ensuring older Coloradans do not fall into poverty and become dependent on Medicaid.

Senator John Kefalis on Senior Issues
Colorado Social Legislation Committe
Panel on Seniors Issues -- March 10th, 2014

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Older Coloradans Act/Older Americans Act
I support both the Older Coloradans Act and the Older Americans Act.  The Older Coloradans Act is a relatively inexpensive “piggyback” program that yields significant resources from the parallel federal program.    Over the past 10 years, the State has invested a few hundred thousand dollars a year in order to draw $12 million in federal funding. 

The program remains underfunded, perhaps coming in at 50% of the desired funding levels.  A further investment of resources in senior services should result in dramatically lowering the amount of Medicaid funds spent on seniors living in assisted living programs and nursing homes.

Senator Rachel Zenzinger speaks on Senior Issues (below):
Colorado Social Legislation Committe
Panel on Seniors Issues -- March 10th, 2014

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There are two problems with these two parallel acts that I would like to see resolved.  The federal Older Americans Act is based on an outdated funding formula using 2000 census data.  Colorado’s population of those 65 and over grew by approximately 32% between 2000 and 2010, while the funding remains based on the needs of a much smaller population.  As a result, significant service needs including Meals on Wheels, transportation for medical services, adult day care, personal care services, dental, optometric, and hearing assistance, caregiver assistance, legal assistance, and many other services are being lost to the growing population. 

In addition to using outdated demographic data as a source for funding, older Coloradans have also suffered as a result of sequestration cuts that impacted Colorado as much as 15 times that of some other states.   

I join those who call for an immediate updating of the funding formula for the Older Americans Act and a reauthorization of the act by Congress.

Rich Mauro speaks on Senior Issues (below):
Colorado Social Legislation Committe
Panel on Seniors Issues -- March 10th, 2014

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Regarding the state-level Older Coloradans Act, I would like to see a bill brought to the legislature to ensure direct and sustained funding of the program, rather than battling to get adequate resources every year with a line item on the long ball.  With a quickly growing older population, an uncertain economy, and a legislature perpetually subject to shifting priorities, a legislative solution is essential in providing a dependable, stable source of funding to meets the needs of Older Coloradans.  


Kelli Fritts speaks on Senior Issues (below):
Colorado Social Legislation Committe
Panel on Seniors Issues -- March 10th, 2014

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  • I support new legislation to strengthen the protection against elder abuse.  Securing mandatory reporting for elder abuse was an important accomplishment, and enacting improvements to expand the definition of theft should help eliminate fraudulent practices from those who take advantage of permission given them to manage another’s finances.  
  • I am in favor of revising the Property Homestead Exemption Act to apply to a greater number of older Coloradans.  Extending the exemption to seniors over the age of 75 for who meet particular low income means testing – regardless of whether or not the person has owned the home for 10 years – should help seniors stay in their homes.  I also support extending the exemption to the spouses of veterans who have passed away, ensuring that the surviving spouse of a veteran may continue to benefit from the exemption.


Rich Mauro on Federal/State Older American/Coloradans Act (below):
Colorado Social Legislation Committe
Panel on Seniors Issues -- March 10th, 2014

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  • I support expanding the eligibility income threshold for the Property Tax/Rent/Heat Rebate Program in Colorado, making more people eligible for the rebate and raising the amount of the rebate.  Getting more money to seniors will enable them to live in their homes longer, keeping them healthier and avoiding the less cost-effective expense of using Medicaid funds to cover fees for long-term care, including nursing homes and assisted living situations.
  • I support giving benefits to caregivers, including a tax credit for family caregivers.  


Audience Q&A on Senior Issues (below):
Colorado Social Legislation Committe
Panel on Seniors Issues -- March 10th, 2014

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