Policy Advocacy Alerts

SSC Advocacy Alerts

Budget Committee Needs to Hear from Us re SSI/SSP

February 20, 2017 – California legislators are holding hearings right now that will help set budget priorities for the upcoming fiscal year. They have difficult choices to make – but we want them to focus on a comprehensive response to poverty, hunger and homelessness among seniors and people living with disabilities. Lawmakers can do this by passing a budget that increases SSI/SSP levels and reinstates the Cost Of Living Adjustment.

Here’s what you can do:  

Click here to go to St. Anthony’s web page to send an email to the Senate Budget SubCommittee on Health & Human Services.


Help Save the Affordable Care Act

January 4, 2017 – The United States Congress is rushing ahead to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a move that would strip health care coverage from tens of millions of individuals and increase health care costs for millions more.

Please, call your Senators. Tell them to protect health care and to vote NO on legislation to repeal the ACA. Call 1-888-897-9753.

The current repeal bill does not include a replacement for the ACA. Not only would the bill eliminate health insurance coverage for 30 million people nationwide, it would eliminate coverage for the tens of millions of low and moderate income individuals who gained it through Medicaid expansion. Many of those people are older adults.

The repeal bill threatens other aspects of the ACA critical to seniors, including investments for Chronic Disease Self-Management Education and Falls Prevention, the Community First Choice Option, and insurance premium limits that help make health coverage affordable for older adults.

When you call, here’s what you might say:

“Hello, my name is [NAME], and I’m a constituent from [CITY/STATE]. As a citizen concerned about health care, and believing that health care is a basic human right, I want to tell the Senator she should oppose any repeal of the Affordable Care Act. We can’t afford to go down this path. This is a matter of life and death. Please vote NO on any legislation that includes repealing the Affordable Care Act.”


Past SSC Advocacy Alerts

Advocate for Older Adults on May 11 in Sacramento

April 19, 2017 – Right now, lawmakers in the Capitol are considering issues impacting seniors, including SSI/SSP benefits, affordable housing, aging services, and health care. The Senior Rally Day on Thursday, May 11, 2017 is designed to impress upon the lawmakers that aging issues are a priority. Large turn-out is critical to this effort.

You can help by attending and/or organizing a group. SSC is providing transportation to and from Sacramento, and is organizing meetings with key legislators. Our bus will leave from two Oakland locations starting at 8am.

SIGN UP TO JOIN US BY MAY 3rd 

  • TO REGISTER and SIGN UP FOR LUNCH: While the event and lunch are free, the organizers ask all participants to register so that they have an accurate head count. To register, click here.

Click here for a detailed flyer. Please share widely!


San Francisco Rally Calling on Governor Brown to Protect, Preserve, and Expand California’s Safety Net!

December 27, 2016 – Join us for this Statewide Day of Action, responding to the proposed budget that Governor Brown will release on January 10th. Senior Services Coalition is joining advocates from all sectors and silos to call on the Governor and Legislators to protect, preserve and invest in the health and social services that form a safety net for millions of Californians, young and old.

When: Tuesday, January 10th, 12:30pm
Where: California State Building steps
355 McAllister Street San Francisco, CA

Join us as we call on Governor Brown and the Legislature to make a major investment in the state’s future in 2017, and to ask them to: 1) Protect all immigrants by keeping families together, safe, and healthy; 2) Preserve recent healthcare gains that reduced the number of uninsured to all-time lows; and 3) Expand Social Safety Net programs like Medi-Cal, Older Californians Act, IHSS and SSI.

If you are planning on attending, please click here to contact Jordan Lindsey at SSC.

 


Make Affordable Housing a Reality in Alameda County

October 20, 2016 – Getting Measure A1 on the ballot was the first step. But for Measure A1 to pass, many things need to be done from now until November. We need your help!

Measure A1 will create and protect affordable housing options for people who need it the most, including seniors and people with disabilities, veterans, low-income families, and the homeless. The bond will be a powerful $580 million tool in a larger County effort to address the housing crisis, freeing up other funding to provide comprehensive housing services and programs that will address displacement and homelessness.

You can help support the measure in a few different ways:

  • Click here to volunteer for phone-banking and door-knocking to inform voters about the affordable housing bond.
  • Click here to endorse the measure!
  • Click here to spread the word online and join our Facebook group!
  • Every dollar counts! Click here to make a contribution to the campaign.

Of course, don’t forget to vote YES on A1! Help make a difference in the lives of those who need a safe, affordable place to call home with your vote.


Be a Friend to Alameda County Community Food Bank

September 26, 2016 – During this year’s Hunger Action Month, Alameda County Community Food Bank is growing its social media following to reach more members of our community. How can you help? Visit the food bank’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to follow them, spread the word, share their posts, and see how you can get involved in the food bank’s work – this month and beyond!

Urgent, Tell Governor Brown to Make Aging Services Coordination a Priority and Support SB 547, by Friday, 9/2

September 1, 2016 – SB 547 (Liu) would create a coordinating council for aging services in California led by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The bill was a result of the comprehensive 2014 report, “A Shattered System: Reforming Long-Term Care In California,” which found that there are currently 112 agencies and departments in California that oversee aging and long-term care services, creating a fragmented and confusing system. The bill has passed through the legislature with bipartisan support and has now been sent to Governor Jerry Brown. Unfortunately, the Health and Human Services Agency has expressed concerns about the workload, which means that this bill’s fate is in jeopardy.

What You Can Do Right Now:

Call or send a quick letter to the Governor by this Friday, September 2! Click here to download a letter template. Simply insert your name, organization’s name and letterhead, and then email the letter to leg.unit@gov.ca.gov. Or call (916) 445-2841 and voice you and your organization’s support.


Urgent, Tell Governor Brown to Restore SSI/SSP! 
Action Needed by Friday, August 26th!

August 23, 2016 – AB 1584 (Brown) would restore the state Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) and invest in the lives of over 1 million Californians by providing annual grant adjustments that reflect the true cost of living in California. The bill has passed through the legislature with bipartisan support and will now be sent to Governor Jerry Brown who will either sign it into law or veto it. Because the Governor has already passed his budget, and this bill has a high price tag, there is a likelihood that the Governor will veto the bill.

What You Can Do Right Now:
 
Send a quick letter to the Governor! Click here for a sample letter; insert your name and organization, and put it on your letterhead. Then email your letter to andrew@cafoodbanks.org,who is helping to lead the statewide advocacy efforts and will compile all the letters and deliver them to the Governor this Friday, August 26.


One Call to Make Aging Services a Priority

August 8, 2016 – Until now, SB 547 (Carol Liu) on Aging and Long-Term Care Services, Supports, and Program Coordination, has garnered unanimous support from inside and outside the Legislature. Based on recommendations contained in the 2015 A Shattered System: Reforming Long-Term Care in California, SB 547 would create a coordinating council and make integration of long-term care and aging issues the responsibility of the state’s Health & Human Services Secretary.

Now SB 547 faces its toughest hurdle. Please help us get the bill off of suspense and through the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Tell California leaders that aging services need to be a priority.

What You Can Do Right Now:

Make a quick and easy phone call to Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez, Chair of the Assembly Appropriations Committee – or send her a short email. A sample script is below. Calls can be made to Assembly Member Gonzalez’s Capitol office at (916) 319-2080. Emails should be sent to Assembly Member Gonzalez’s staff: evan.mclaughlin@asm.ca.gov.

“Hello. My name is ____________ and I live in ______________, CA. I am calling/writing to ask for Assembly Member Gonzalez's support of SB 547, the Aging and Long-Term Care Services, Supports and Program Coordination bill. SB 547 is currently on suspense in Assembly Appropriations. As Committee Chair, the Assembly Member's "aye" vote will help make aging services a priority to the administration and to California. Thank you”


Act Now to Increase SSI/SSP for Aged, Blind & Disabled,

June 8, 2016 – We are in the final week of negotiations on a budget deal and we need your help. The time is now to contact Governor Brown and tell him that you want California to increase SSI/SSP grants so that no senior or person living with a disability has to struggle to survive on a grant that is below the Federal Poverty Level. We need to make sure that the Governor hears there is significant statewide support for a reinvestment in this critical program (for more information on this issue click here).

Please take 2 minutes for SSI/SSP:

1. Call Governor Jerry Brown’s office at (916) 445-2841.

When you call, you’ll be asked whether to continue in English or Spanish. Then you’ll be asked whether you want some prerecorded information or would like to speak to a representative. You want to speak to a representative. You might be put on hold before you get a chance to speak. Tell the person who answers the phone:

“Hi. My name is ___________ and I live in _______, California. I am calling to ask Governor Brown to support the Senate’s increased investment in SSI in the final budget.”

2. Email the Governor this message:
TO: leg.unit@gov.ca.gov
SUBJECT: Support Senate SSI Proposal in the 2016-17 Budget

Dear Governor Brown:

I stand with the Senior Services Coalition (SSC), a coalition of more than 40 organizations that provide health and supportive services to over 57,000 seniors in Alameda County, in support of increased investment in SSI/SSP. We believe that no one on SSI/SSP should be forced to live in poverty.

We urge your adoption of the Senate’s proposals to invest in SSI/SSP that are included in the Senate’s No Place Like Home Initiative. In particular,

1) Invest in SSP with Grant Increase of $10 a month
SSC supports the Senate’s version that increases SSI/SSP grants by $10 a month. This will go further than the Governor’s proposal does to restore the $77 a month that was cut from grant levels during the recession. To date, no restorations have been provided and 1 million Californians have dropped below the poverty level due to the cuts.

2) Support Advocacy to Increase SSI Participation
SSC supports the $50 million two-year investment in the Housing and Disability Income Program to be matched dollar for dollar by counties to provide robust SSI benefit advocacy and housing while the SSI application is pending.

Sincerely,
NAME


Shape a County Housing Bond that will Help Seniors

May 3, 2016 – The County Board of Supervisors are planning a $500 million Affordable Housing Bond Measure for the November 2016 ballot. Polling showed this is feasible – voters are overwhelmingly supportive of projects that would help provide affordable homes to vulnerable populations, including housing for seniors and the disabled.

The language and priorities of the bond measure are being developed now, and the county needs to hear from you about housing priorities. The Board of Supervisors will vote on the final housing bond measure language on June 6, 2016.

What you can do right now:

  • TAKE the County Housing Survey by clicking here or go to www.tinyurl.com/alcohousingbond.
  • ATTEND one or more of the 8 Supervisorial District Town Hall meetings in May and communicate your priorities. Click here for the schedule and to rsvp (thanks to our partner EBHO).

What priorities will best serve older adults? Without a doubt, more low-income senior housing is needed. But that’s only part of the solution. More and more low-income older adults are at risk of losing their homes, and this displacement can have devastating health consequences. Anti-displacement programs such as the Home Sharing Program in Fremont (click here for info) and the Home Preservation Fund that once existed in Oakland can help older adults keep their homes. The Dellums Institute for Social Justice is recommending that adequate funding for anti-displacement strategies be part of the Housing Bond. Click here to read their report.


Advancing Efforts to Increase SSI/SSP Grant Levels

February 24, 2016 – Improving the economic security of older adults is a key part of the Senior Services Coalition’s Policy Agenda. This mandate has grown increasingly urgent over the last year as more newly homeless seniors show up at shelters and more seniors seek help from the food bank and other organizations.
With the state’s legislative session off and running, there are several opportunities to support efforts to increase SSI grant levels:

Individuals: Go to http://ca4ssi.org/take-action/ and add your name to the petition asking California’s policy makers to take action to improve SSI/SSP. Check out the rest of this excellent web site to learn more about the issue and the people it effects, and to tell your own story.

Community-based Organizations: Join Californians For SSI and sign on to a letter that the coalition is submitting to the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. Click here to read the letter. If your organization decides to sign on, send an email to Shanti Prasad at sprasad@accfb.org and Andrew Cheyne at andrew@cafoodbanks.org.

Background
The Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program and the State Supplemental Payment (SSP) were designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people who have little or no income meet their basic needs. However, current grant levels are below the federal poverty level and far below the Elder Economic Security Standard Index, leaving SSI recipients struggling to survive.

The Governor’s January budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2016/17 included a 2.96% Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) to the state’s share of SSI/SSP starting in January of 2017. The proposed increase, when combined with the anticipated federal COLA, would mean a maximum increase of $17 a month for an individual and $31 a month for a couple. While a step in the right direction, this proposed one-time increase does not reinstate the state’s annual COLA, nor does it meaningfully address the reality of basic living costs in California. The CA4SSI coalition is asking policy makers to increase grant levels above 100% FPL and to restore the state’s annual COLA.


East Bay Housing Organizations

January 13, 2016 – East Bay Housing Organizations is asking for help to build inclusive communities in Oakland. Click here to read more. 

Calls to Action from SSC Partners

From Social Security Works – President Proposes Federal Budget that Cuts SSDI and SSI

May 22, 2017 – The President’s proposed budget for 2018 offers tax cuts to the wealthy while making deep cuts to programs that help struggling seniors and people with disabilities.  One of the most shocking proposals is $72 billion in cuts to disability programs, primarily Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income. The President also proposes to cut Social Security benefits for disabled workers and SSI beneficiaries for households with more than one disabled family member.  Together, these proposals would slash the basic income assistance that is a safety net for seniors and people with disabilities nationwide.

Click here to sign Social Security Works’ petition demanding that Congress reject the President’s budget.


From Justice in Aging – Deeply Concerning. It’s time to call our Congressional Representatives.

April 16, 2017 – Although we fought back against recent efforts in Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with the American Health Care Act (AHCA), leaders in Congress say they will continue their efforts to pass a health are bill that would eliminate coverage for 24 million individuals and gut Medicaid funding to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.

Right now, Congress is on a two-week recess, so you have the opportunity to tell members of Congress just how harmful these proposals are for older adults.

  • Attend a Town Hall: Visit The Town Hall Project website by clicking here and enter your zip code.
  • Call Congress at 202-224-3121. Ask to be connected to your Representative and tell them not to vote to repeal the ACA.

From Medicare Rights – Protect Our Caregivers

January 30, 2017 – Caregivers and their families need to make their voices heard. Tell Congress that to stand by caregivers they must protect Medicare, Medicaid, and the ACA.

Call 866-426-2631 today to contact your members of Congress. You will be asked to enter your five-digit zip code before being transferred to your representative. Tell your member to protect Medicare, Medicaid, and the ACA from any changes that would make care more expensive. Be sure to say:

  • The member needs to keep the Medicare promise not break it. Vouchers, raising the eligibility age, or any other scheme will force people with Medicare to pay more for less.
  • The member needs to protect Medicaid, not cut it with block grants or caps. Medicaid is what helps keeps people in their homes and communities.
  • The member needs to show us their replacement plan for the ACA so that those with coverage do not lose out. The ACA brought health coverage to millions of Americans, many of them caregivers.

From NCOA – Join NCOA’s Fight to Protect ACA for Seniors and Their Families

January 4, 2017 – Congress has taken the first steps toward repealing the Affordable Care Act and with it, the Prevention and Public Health Fund that funds falls prevention and chronic disease self-management education. National Council on Aging is asking for your help to tell Congress how important these programs are for older adults.

Click here to go to NCOA’s action page and send an email to your congressional representatives.


Past Calls to Action

From CMS – Inform Medicaid & Medi-Medi Quality Measures

September 26, 2016 – CMS’s Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services and the Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office are seeking public comment on measure specifications and justification for quality measures currently under development and testing.

The public comment period runs to October 7, 2016. If you wish to comment on any of these measures, submit your comments by close of business October 7, 2016 to MedicaidQualMeasures@mathematica-mpr.com. You can also use this email address if you have questions. 

The measure concepts address the following areas and populations:

  1. Medicare-Medicaid (Dual) beneficiaries and Medicaid beneficiaries using home and community-based services
  2. Medicaid beneficiaries in managed long-term services and supports programs
  3. Medicaid beneficiaries with complex care needs and high costs
  4. Medicaid beneficiaries with substance use disorders
  5. Medicaid beneficiaries and Duals with physical-mental health integration needs

Memos listing questions on which CMS requests public comment, as well as the measure information forms (MIFs) and measure justification forms (MJFs) for the individual measures, are available in zip files in the Download section on this web page: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Quality-Initiatives-Patient-Assessment-Instruments/MMS/CallforPublicComment.html

Opportunity to Improve Access to Durable Medical Equipment

July 25, 2016 – Justice In Aging has alerted us to an opportunity to improve access to DME for consumers with both Medicare and Medicaid. These “duals” face recurring problems getting approval for Durable Medical Equipment (DME), getting repairs, and finding reliable suppliers. DME includes many vital items, such as wheelchairs, walkers, hospital beds, home oxygen equipment, and even diabetes test strips used with a glucose monitor. After dialogue with advocates about these problems, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently issued a Request for Information seeking more information about problems accessing these vital forms of equipment.

This is a very important opportunity to tell CMS what isn’t working and to improve access to DME. Please consider commenting and share this opportunity with others, both advocates and consumers, who can provide input to CMS.

The deadline for comments is August 23.

CMS noted some of the obstacles facing dual eligibles in getting access to DME including:

  • Conflicting DME approval processes for Medicare and Medicaid
  • DME access problems for people who have Medicaid first and then become eligible for Medicare
  • Getting coverage for repairs, particularly getting Medicare coverage for an item originally obtained through Medicaid
  • Differences between Medicare and Medicaid approved suppliers (many providers are approved for one program, but not the other)

The agency asked for examples of these problems, as well as suggestions for legislative and administrative measures that could remedy the issue.

The full list of CMS questions is here. It is very open-ended. We hope that policy advocates will talk about trends they see and specific policy changes that would help. We also hope that consumers who can recount first hand problems will respond (but since comments are public – please don’t include personal information such as a Medicare number).

File your comments on Regulations.gov. Directions on how to file are found here. Comments can be short or long and do not need to be formal.

Please take advantage of this chance to help make DME more accessible to dual eligible beneficiaries!


From NCOA – US Senate Proposes to Eliminate HICAP and Senior Employment Funding!

June 15, 2016 – NCOA reports that last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY17 Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations bill with a nearly unanimous vote of 29-1.

While there were some increases in aging services, two critical programs were targeted for significant cuts. The Committee proposed that:

  • The Medicare State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) lose all of its $52.1 million in funding, effectively eliminating the program.
  • The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) lose $34.4 million, or 8% of its funding.

SHIP is known as HICAP in California, and since 1992, has been the only program that provides free, personalized counseling to seniors and people with disabilities who need unbiased help with the complexities of Medicare coverage. SHIPs also provide assistance with fraud and abuse issues, billing problems, appeal rights, and enrollment in low-income protection programs. Last year, over 7 million Medicare beneficiaries received help from SHIPs.

Medicare advocates were shocked that the Senate committee would propose to effectively eliminate the important, successful SHIP program. Click here to go to NCOA’s page to learn more and to take action.


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