The Rhode Island Senate approved S 2552 sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 24, Providence) to create an office within the Division of Elderly Affairs to help government connect Rhode Islanders with helplful resources for long-term care. The legislation was cosponsored by Sen. Dawn Euer (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown).
On May 1, 2018, the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services voted to approve S 2551 and one week later the legislation was passed by the full Senate and referred to the House Health, Education, and Welfare Committee for consideration. Rep. Lauren H. Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport) is sponsoring the House companion legislation (H 7172). The House cosponsors are: Rep. Michael Morin (D-Dist. 49, Woonsocket); Rep. Kathleen Fogarty (D-Dist. 35, South Kingston); Rep. J. Aaron Regunberg (D-Dist. 4, Providence); and Rep. Deborah Rugiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown and Middletown).
S 2551 would establish the Rhode Island Aging and Disability Resource Center within the Department of Human Services’ Division of Elderly Affairs, as part of the Rhode Island system of long-term care for older adults, those with disabilities, family caregivers and providers.
Assisting Rhode Islanders to Make Informed Choices
The resource center would assist older Rhode Islanders and their families to make informed choices and decisions about choosing long-term care services and support options and streamline access to long-term supports for older adults, persons with disabilities, family caregivers and providers. Services that the center would provide include a toll-free information number, a comprehensive database of information on available public and private long-term support and service programs, and counseling to assist individuals in crafting long-term care plans for themselves and family members.
“Families can be overwhelmed when faced with the need to find long-term care for a loved one who needs more care than can be provided by independently or by family members. On top of the emotional toll that decisions takes, the expense is tremendous, and it’s very difficult to navigate the maze of public and private options for funding it,” said Senator Goodwin. “A central state office that can advise people on their options and the best ways they can pay for them would help families get the care their loved ones need using all the available funding sources, so they care best protect their families’ assets.”
Getting Reliable Information to Older Rhode Islanders
According to William F. Flynn, Jr., Executive Director of the Senior Agenda Coalition of Rhode Island, S2551 is a top priority of his nonprofit aging advocacy group. “We thank Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin for being the primary sponsor of this bill. The legislation will benefit adult children as they care for aging parents , and will help all seniors as they seek reliable information and advice about available services in both the private and public sector. We believe this investment will be the single most important component of a higher-quality system of elder care in our state,” he says.
“The ADRC is the first point of contact for older Rhode Islanders and their family caregivers on all aspects of life related to aging or living with a disability,” says AARP Rhode Island State Director Kathleen Connell. “This legislation provides for such resources as personal options counseling so that aging and disabled people and their family caregivers are made aware of the various services available for their specific needs. We have joined others supporting the legislation as a means to improve outreach and marketing so that Rhode Islanders needing the services are more aware of ADRC’s existence.”
At the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services the following groups testified in support of S. 2551: The Aging in Community Subcommittee of the Long-Term Care Coordinating Council; AARP Rhode Island; LeadingAge Rhode Island; United Way of Rhode Island; Senior Agenda Coalition of Rhode Island; the Rhode Island Developmental Disabilities Council; SEIU 1199; and the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.