Page 22 - Scene Magazine June 2022 4706
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  Local Interest
Marketing & Outreach Coordinator, CareWell Services, SW
   Older Michiganians Day (OMD)
is an annual rally that takes place at
the Capitol Building in Lansing each May during Older Americans Month. However, like most things since the pandemic began, the rally format has changed in order to ensure the safety of all participants.
more costly long-term care interven- tions. Legislative actions to increase access to home and community-based services include supporting the Silver Key Coalition’s request for a $7 million increase for in-home services, and a
This year, a scaled back rally was held at the Capitol. The Area Agencies on Aging from across
the state participated in a Senior Action Week May 9-13, with a live stream event on Wednesday, May 11. Each day of the week focused on a key area of senior service
and provided an action item that those in the community could take to advocate for the protection of services that allow seniors to age with dignity and independence.
$1 million increase for home delivered meals in the Aging and Commu- nity Living Supports Bureau’s FY 2023 budget.
 The week’s focus included:
• Supporting and strengthening the
ing our Medicaid HCBS programs including MI Choice, PACE, and Home Help. Legislative actions to rebalance community-based long-term services and supports (LTSS) include rebalanc- ing Medicaid long-term services and supports in Michigan by appropriating at least 50% of funding to HCBS and urging MDHHS to allow flexibility to increase special income limits for home and community-based services.
home. Legislative actions to bridge the digital divide for older adults include urging policymakers to use new federal funding for broadband infrastructure
direct care workforce
• Rebalancing community-based
to expand access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet for all Michigan residents, regardless of where they live in the state, and funding new and exist- ing educational programs that provide technology training for older adults
long-term services and supports
• Expanding access to the MI Choice
Waiver Program
• Increasing access to home and
community-based services
• Bridging the digital divide for older
CareWell Services Southwest, the Region 3B Area Agency on Aging, was very active during Senior Action Week, sending out daily emails and social me- dia posts about the platform points and encouraging the community to advocate for seniors.
The MI Choice Waiver Program is an in-home service program that enables Medicaid eligible seniors and adults with a disability to receive long-term services and supports in their home rather than a nursing facility. MI Choice has demonstrated that care delivered in the home is 42% less expensive than having the same person moved into an institutional setting. Legislative actions to expand access to MI Choice Waiver includes raising the MI Choice capita- tion rates to keep up with inflation and supporting direct care worker wage increases to stabilize and advance this workforce.
Direct Care Workers (DCW) and Personal Care Workers (PCW) are an essential component in helping older Michiganians age in place. In Michigan, an additional 34,000 direct care workers are needed to meet the demand. There is currently no federal training standard to professionalize the direct care work- force although they provide the majority of in-home care. Legislative actions to support and strengthen the direct care workforce include supporting the Gov- ernor’s FY 2023 budget inclusion of the $2.35 DCW wage increase and ensure the wage increase is made permanent, and expanding the direct care worker network through training, opportunity for advancement, and increased wages and benefits.
While the conversations and work that took place during Senior Action Week were encouraging, there is still more to do.
Michigan ranks near the bottom in the proportion of taxpayer dollars spent by states to provide long-term care in home and community-based settings
For more information on the advocacy platforms and to learn how to get involved, visit www.carewellser- or call us at (269) 966-2450.
Older Michiganian’s Day is Over, But There’s Still Work to Do
versus institutional care. During FY21, only 43% of long-term services and supports funding was allocated to home and community-based services (HCBS) while 57% went to institutional settings. Michigan must strengthen the HCBS model of service delivery by expand-
In Michigan, there are currently 7,270 seniors on waiting lists for es- sential non-Medicaid in-home services. Services funded by the Aging and Community Living Supports Bureau include home delivered meals, in-home personal care, homemaking, and respite care that delay or prevent the need for
“We must continue to advocate for the rights of our growing aging popula- tion, not just during Older Michiganians Day or Older Americans Month,” said Stacy Wines, Interim Chief Executive Officer at CareWell. “We need to keep building on this momentum to help our most vulnerable population obtain the support and services they deserve.”
Broadband access can re-
duce isolation, improve health outcomes, and help lower health care costs, but Michigan’s digital divide is leaving many older adults behind. Older residents and indi- viduals with disabilities are two groups who often face difficulty traveling for medical appointments and are also significantly less likely to have broadband service at

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