Colorado’s Citizen Legislature – April 2014
~ By Doris Beaver ~
Legislators are finally taking note of just how long it had been since some allowances for Seniors have been increased, and also providing for automatic future increases.
Senate Bill 14-130: In 1987, a federal law was enacted creating a personal needs allowance (PNA) for residents of Medicaid nursing facilities – $30.00 per month at that time. The allowance, which can be set at a higher rate, is to be used for the “purchase of clothing and other goods and services that are not reimbursed by any state or federal government.” Colorado increased the allowance in 1999 (the most recent increase) from $34.00 to $50.00 by passing House Bill 99-1166.
SB 130, if passed and enacted as introduced, increases the basic minimum amount from $50.00 to $75.00 that state licensed nursing facilities and intermediate care facilities allow a long-term care resident as a personal needs allowance.
SB 130 has a provision for automatic increases – on January 1, 2015 and on January 1st of each year thereafter, the basic minimum amount is increased by the same percentage as the nursing facility provider rate. The reduction in payments received by nursing facilities resulting from an increase in the basic minimum amount is to be funded in full by the General Fund and applicable federal funds.
The allowance for veterans is separately established at $90.00 per month and is not affected by SB 130.
The Senate Health and Human Services committee voted 7-0 to refer SB 130 to the Committee on Appropriations.
Sponsors of Senate Bill 14-130: Senator Lois Tochtrop (D-Adams) 866-4863; and Representative Dianne Primavera (D-Boulder, Broomfield) 866-4667.
Senate Bill 14-013: Persons eligible to receive an old age pension will not have to include the first three hundred dollars per month received by the person in the form of gifts, grants or donations when calculating income and resources for eligibility. This exclusion is not eligible to the spouse of an applicant who is a qualified alien – that person’s income and resources “shall be considered in determining eligibility pursuant to the rules of the state department.”
“The Old Age Pension is a constitutionally created program to provide cash assistance to Coloradans over the age of 60 who meet income and other eligibility requirements, and is currently set at $737.00 per month.”
There is an offset provision in the bill – “excluding income disregards, each dollar of income earned by a person receiving the Old Age Pension offsets the maximum award until the award is reduced to zero and the person is no longer eligible.”
The source of funding for the Old Page Pension Fund is sales, use and excise tax revenue. The Committee on Finance recommended SB 013 be favorably referred to the Committee on Appropriations.
Sponsors of Senate Bill 013: Senator Steve King (R-Mesa) 866-3077. No sponsor as yet in the House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 14-151: In 2009, House Bill 09-1196 was passed by the legislature in effort to improve the quality of life for nursing home residents. HB 1196 provided for up to 25 per cent of money deposited in the Nursing Home Penalty Cash Fund in future fiscal years to be distributed by the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing for use toward that goal.
A ten-member Nursing Facility Culture Change Accountability Board was also created to oversee the Fund. In Fiscal Year 2013-4, the award to the fund was $85,000.00, with that amount expected in future fiscal years.
SB 151 renames that Board to the Nursing Home Innovations Grant Board, and provides for establishing the new composition of the ten member board by September 1, 2014. Some of the other changes provided by SB 151 include:
- requiring a minimum annual grant amount of up to $250,000.00 based on whether the fund balance is greater than $2 million on July 1st of that fiscal year;
- awarding grants for measures intended to foster innovation and directly improve the qualify of life and care provided at nursing home facilities;
- clarifying that all grant-funded work products are the intellectual property of the state and must be made available to all nursing homes in the state;
- supporting initiatives in line with the measures promoted by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services;
- limiting administrative costs paid to the board to $10,000.00 per year; and extending the sunset date of the board to September 1, 2021.
SB 151 was referred favorably to the Committee on Appropriations.
Sponsors of Senate Bill 14-151: Senator Lois Tochtrop (D-dams) 866-4863; and Representative Dave Young (D-Weld) 866-2929.
Doris is a freelance journalist who writes from her home high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains on senior issues, politics, ethics and environmental issues. Visit her website www.dorisbeaver.com or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.