The 2018 Legislative Session in Georgia has ended. Listed below are outcomes regarding issues affecting seniors, as reported by the Alzheimer’s Association National Office, alz.org
SB 444—Establish the Georgia Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias State Plan (GARD) Advisory Council—Senator Renee Unterman and Representative Eddie Lumsden. This bill passed the Senate by a vote of 55–0; passed the House by a vote of 160-1. It is now on the way to the Governor for his consideration. The state plan was adopted and signed by the Governor in 2014, with the goal of making Georgia a dementia-capable state. Unfortunately, the statute containing the State Plan authorization was inadvertently removed from statute, so we need to legislatively reauthorize the Advisory Council that manages the Plan.
The goal of the Plan and its ongoing implementation—including legislative and regulatory work—is to ensure Georgia continues to become more dementia-capable, and the ongoing updating of the Plan ensures that the Plan continues to remain green—taking on new work to keep Georgia moving forward in the goal of full-dementia capability. Reauthorizing the State Plan will allow us to tweak the structure from our actual experience in getting the job done, as well as to streamline the work needing to be done, allowing for the inclusion of new and innovative opportunities. In continuing to move our State Plan work forward, we will also continue to implement the work already determined to be necessary, including:
HR 1292—Urging Resolution for the Georgia Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias State Plan Advisory Council (GARD) to Review and Develop Recommendations Ensuring Access to Quality Long Term Care for Persons with Dementia—Representative Sharon Cooper. This resolution passed the House by a vote of 170-1, and will now be passed on to the GARD Advisory Council for implementation. Numerous people living with dementia, experiencing anxiety and behavioral issues are being refused admittance to Long Term Care (LTC) facilities. The House of Representatives should urge the GARD Advisory Council to review the strengths and weaknesses of the current regulations, as well as assess opportunities for improving access and availability of quality long term care. GARD should develop and bring back to the General Assembly recommendations and any legislation needed to improve access and quality within this complex issue.
HB 803—Add Penalties for Benefits Trafficking—Representative Wendell Willard and Senator Kay Kirkpatrick. This bill passed the House by a vote of 160-1; passed the Senate by a vote of 55-0. It is now on the way to the Governor for his consideration. In Georgia, cases have been on the rise of older adults being collected, coerced, and isolated and deceived in order to unlawfully use their public benefits: Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, VA Pension, and more—and often, those with Alzheimer’s or other dementias are targeted. Code needed to be added to the exploitation statute so that tools will be available to allow law enforcement and prosecutors to fight these crimes that impact our most vulnerable Georgians.
Additional bills passed by the Senate and going to the Governor for consideration are:
HB 635/SB 202 – The Disabled and Elder Persons Protection Act – Representative Sharon Cooper: Encourages the creation of at-risk adult protective investigative/coordinating teams to coordinate the investigation of and response to suspected instances of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of disabled adults or elder persons.
SB 370 – Medicaid Estate Recovery – Senator John Wilkinson: This bill protects the first $25,000 in assets from Medicaid Estate Recovery.
HB 897 – Power of Attorney to a Uniform Act – Representative Chuck Efstration: This bill was basically a clean-up bill of our Power of Attorney bill (HB221) from last year, resolving concerns of the Georgia Bar and financial institutions.