The Government Administration & Elections Committee has a noon meeting today to take up a bill on social services. According to the legislation, it:
“. establishes the Community Choices program to assist the elderly, people with disabilities, and their caregivers in gathering information and making long-term care decisions;
2. changes eligibility requirements, funding, and participation levels for the Department of Social Services (DSS)-administered home care program for people with severe disabilities (the so-called “Katie Beckett” waiver);
3. requires all municipalities to appoint a municipal agent for the elderly and gives the agents discretion regarding their duties;
4. adds to the information health insurance-related entities must provide DSS to assist the department in locating people enrolled in Medicaid who also have other insurance;
5. directs to DSS certain third party beneficiary payments that would otherwise have been disbursed to policy holders when the insured is indebted to the department; and
6. permits certain Bureau of Rehabilitative Services employees to purchase state pension credits.
It also repeals (1) a provision allowing the Department of Administrative Services to deposit Riverview Hospital Medicaid payments in a nonlapsing General Fund account for DSS to pay Medicaid claims and (2) a DSS personal care assistance home-care pilot program for the elderly made unnecessary by the department’s implementation of a statewide waiver.
Current law requires municipalities to have an appointed municipal agent for the elderly if a local ordinance requires it. Under the bill, one must be appointed even if the town has no such ordinance. Agents perform functions to assist elders in learning about community resources and filing for benefits; they are also required to submit annual reports to state and local government officials. DSS generally oversees their performance and, in conjunction with area agencies on aging, provides basic training about such things as simple bookkeeping and available housing resources.
The bill removes an elected state official from the list of those who can be appointed town agents, leaving as eligible a (1) member of a municipal agency for the elderly or (2) municipal resident with a demonstrated interest in the elderly or programs for the aged. It makes agents’ functions discretionary and replaces their annual written reports with a requirement that they report to the town’s chief elected official or executive officer and DSS on consumers’ needs and problems along with recommendations for improving elderly services.”