2019-2020 Public Policy Issues

What You Can Expect

LeadingAge Georgia is committed to being effective in public policy on behalf of our members. We are a trusted voice on behalf of older adults and are effective in policy efforts with both legislators and state agencies.

The public policy issues that we address are brought forth by our members. Our public policy committee reviews the issues thoughtfully and then chooses our issues and shapes our strategies. The issues are presented to the LeadingAge board for discussion and approval. Our board and members engage in grassroots advocacy efforts for maximum effectiveness with legislators statewide.

Expect us to focus on fortifying care and services provided by our members. Also expect us to engage even more with the state agencies and to increase our grassroots efforts with even more member engagement in the coming year. We plan to work to fortify affordable housing in 2020. We’ll have on-going communication to keep us all working together and we’ll have more visits with legislators.

On the federal level, expect LeadingAge to work with legislators, regulators and agencies to tackle critical issues like protecting and expanding affordable housing, working with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid as they roll out the new quality initiative and new payment system, promoting long term financing reform to ensure access to quality long-term services and supports, protecting programs that serve as safety nets to older adults as well as funding for programs funded through the Older Americans Act and the Veterans Administration.

Public Policy is important. Your engagement is crucial for providing effective advocacy. Together we can make changes needed to ensure quality of life for individuals as they age.

LeadingAge Georgia Public Policy Initiatives Summary

LeadingAge Georgia is The Trusted Voice for not-for-profit and other mission-driven organizations dedicated to providing quality housing, healthcare and community-based services for Georgia's older adults. Our membership represents over 130 housing and service providers of which 65 percent are faith-based communities. They proudly embrace the full array of aging services by serving over 127,000 residents and clients in Georgia.  Approximately, 4,700 compassionate, caring, and well-trained staff serve these older Georgians.

  • LeadingAge Georgia public policy efforts are member driven and are based on fortifying our members and enhancing the well-being of older adults.*      *The Eden Alternative has identified seven primary domains of well-being as identity, growth, autonomy, security, connectedness, meaning and joy.
  • When member concerns are brought to the attention of LeadingAge Georgia, we engage members, the public policy committee and our board of directors for developing the best possible policy solutions.
  • LeadingAge Georgia works closely with the LeadingAge national public policy office for guidance on policy development on the state level and for engaging members on national public policy issues for maximum effectiveness.
  • Since LeadingAge Georgia members serve the spectrum of care, our public policy efforts address concerns of our members and the well-being of older adults throughout the continuum of care.

The member driven public policy issues for the 2019 Georgia General Assembly include:

Legislative Priorities:
  • Legislation to change the name in the State’s statute from Continuing Care Retirement Community to Life Plan Community
  • Legislation for managing pain at end of life for residents in assisted living homes
  • Legislation that allows for access to medical cannabis
  • CO-AGE issues, including changes to Medicaid, and other issues that arise that impact our members and the well-being of older adults
Budget Priorities:
  • Increased funding for home and community based services to serve individuals on the Community Care Services Program and Non-Medicaid Community Services waiting lists
  • Increased Medicaid add-on for nursing home care of persons with dementia

Outline of the 2019 policy initiatives that LeadingAge Georgia is engaged in:

  • Affordable Housing – On the federal level, we’re supporting the national efforts to provide funding for new construction, HUD programs, service coordinators and rental assistance. We’re supporting efforts to work with HUD for better housing policies as well as reduced regulatory and administrative burdens. On the state level, we’re working to bring mental health coaches to member communities and to find solutions for senior hunger among HUD residents.
  • Home and Community Based Services – On the federal level, we’re supporting efforts to expand the Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plan to include Long Term Support and Services like adult day and non-emergency medical transportation and we’re working with CMS and HUD for enhanced service coordination that is person-centered. Although we secured a 5% rate increase for Medicaid adult day health providers in 2018 on the state level, we’re investigating funding levels and sources for adult day centers in other states for future funding requests. We are working with the Georgia Department of Community Health for continued improvement in adult day transportation services. We are investigating Medicaid funding levels in other states for in-home care for future funding requests and in the 2019 legislative session we are supporting the request for funding to serve individuals on the waiting list for Medicaid and Non-Medicaid funded home and community based services.  We are also investigating the possibility of implementing a “presumed eligible” designation for clients to be served by Medicaid for both in-home and adult day health services as well as solutions for the cost share requirement that often leads to seniors missing out on services.
  • Assisted Living Homes – On the state level, we’re investigating potential remedies to concerns that residents at end-of-life do not have adequate access to pain management due to restrictions in the current assisted living statute.  We’re also investigating how other states have used Medicaid funds to improve the quality of life for assisted living residents. In order to learn best practices for future consideration. We will pursue legislation to address the concern once policy solutions are fully investigated and appropriate policy has been developed.
  • Nursing Homes – On the federal level, we’re working with Centers for Medicare/Medicaid for improved survey protocol with more emphasis on a quality improvement approach for deficiencies rather than excessive civil monetary penalties.  On the state level, we’re supporting Medicaid funding requests to pay for the cost of care.  We’re also investigating staffing levels in other states for future requests for funding for increased staffing for ensuring quality of care.  We are exploring funding solutions for nursing home members who chose to serve residents with dementia whose needs require increased staffing.
  • Hospice – On the federal level, we’re supporting legislation and regulatory solutions to encourage sufficient payment and quality care. On the state level, we are exploring policy solutions to the requirement that a Hospice nurse must physically visit a patient within one hour of a call for assistance. Tele-medicine is a possible foundation for policy changes.
  • Life Plan Communities – On the federal level, we are working with CMS to ensure that Medicare programs provide the services that are needed in order to ensure that residents receive the care they need in order to maintain maximum quality of life.  We will be working to shape policy to ensure that any changes to the rehab programs support a resident’s maximum independence and well-being. On the state level, we will be advocating in the 2019 legislative session to change the name in the state’s statute from Continuing Care Retirement Community to Life Plan Community.
  • Workforce Initiatives – In addition to seeking funding for increased wages and increased staffing, we are partnering with Georgia Health Care Association to explore seeking a Civil Monetary Penalties funded grant to develop a career ladder/lattice program for nursing home staff.  The career ladder would have the explicit purposes of providing a career pathway and growth for long term care Certified Nurse assistants to achieve Licensed Professional or Registered Nurse status and increasing the professional nursing workforce in Georgia.  We are also exploring other policy remedies, such as financial resources and loan forgiveness for gerontology education and aging services professionals, for shortage of direct-care workers and nurses.
  • Implementation of the Fingerprint Background Check Program – On the state level, we are working with the Georgia Department of Community Health and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to make finger-print background checks as accessible as possible when the law requiring background checks for long-term care staff and un-supervised volunteers is implemented in 2019.

Make your voice heard.

The mission of The Legislative Action Center for LeadingAge is to expand the world of possibilities for aging in the United States and communicating with members of Congress about funding and regulatory issues is an important element of that mission.