Bills totaling over $20 million in funding passed to support elder services in the community
Representative Gregg Takayama (Pearl City, Waimalu, Pacific Palisades), Co-Chair of the Kupuna Caucus, said that by 2020, a quarter of Hawai‘i’s residents will be 60 or older.
“It is more important than ever to protect and maintain the ability of kupuna to be healthy, live independently, and remain engaged with their communities,” said Rep. Takayama. “Every dollar that we spend on them, every person that we are able to keep out of a nursing home, saves money for all of us as taxpayers and improves their quality of life.”
The Kupuna Caucus package of bills include:
· appropriates $8,291,390 over two years to fund the Kupuna Care Program – in addition to approximately $9.7 million already appropriated in House Bill 2 – for a total of $18 million for FYs 2019-20 & 2020-21 ($9 million each year);
· expands funding for the Kupuna Caregivers Program to $1.5 million in FY 2019-20, requires the Executive Office on Aging to develop and implement a plan to maximize the number of caregivers served by the program, adds care coordination and case management to the services available to caregivers, and changes the maximum funds that can be awarded to a qualified caregiver from $70 per day to $210 per week, subject to funding availability;
· appropriates $550,000 to continue the Hawai‘i Healthy Aging Partnership, which funds two programs – Better Choices Better Health (Ke Ola Pono) and EnhanceFitness – that improve the health and well-being of Hawaiʻi’s kupuna; and
· provides funding for the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementia Services Coordinator ($59,616 per year for two fiscal years) in the Executive Office on Aging.
Senator Sharon Y. Moriwaki (Waikīkī, Ala Moana, Kaka‘ako, McCully, Mo‘ili‘ili) said this package of bills is both compassionate and forward thinking.
“The Kupuna Caregivers Program allows us to add the love and caring of our significant others in our homes. I know a lot of us take care of our once active parents,” Moriwaki said. “It is really important to support our caregivers, so they can care for our vulnerable kupuna.”
Additionally, House and Senate lawmakers recognized the service of AARP Hawai‘i State Director Barbara Kim Stanton, who is retiring after many years championing kupuna causes in Hawaiʻi and 13 years of service with AARP Hawai‘i.
“Our senior community, our kupuna, really thank the House and Senate for their leadership and their compassion. We have 154,000 family caregivers and the majority of them are still in the workforce. It is complex and stressful,” Stanton said. “I think this package of bills you passed shows that you really do understand the caregivers plight and you are going to make it so that kupuna are able to stay in their homes as long as possible. We are very grateful.”
These four bills now advance to Governor David Ige for approval or veto.