Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Senior Tar Heels
Delegate Jerry Shelby represented Rowan County at the N. C. Senior Tar Heel Legislature meeting June 12-13 in Raleigh.
The Senior Legislature, established by the N. C. General Assembly in 1993, encourages citizen involvement and advocacy concerning aging issues, provides information and education to senior adults and the general public regarding issues before the General Assembly, and makes recommendations to the assembly on legislative needs of senior North Carolinians.
Shelby serves on the resolutions and legislation issues committees.
The resolution committee is responsible for developing the process of identifying benefits, expenditures and financial returns, setting the priority, and the presentation of the resolution to the N.C. General Assembly for consideration into law.
Of special interest to the delegates were issues related to senior centers, Medicare fraud, and issues about mental health and aging.
Speakers at the meeting included Mike Mosely, director of the Division of Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities/Substance Abuse, and John Tote, director of the Mental Health Association regarding what is being done by the General Assembly and government to strengthen services to the aging population with mental health problems, and promoting mental health to prevent mental illness.
Dan Gerlach, senior advisor for fiscal policy to the Governor, spoke about the state budget and factors that impact the budget.
Stephanie Bias, program coordinator for SHIIP presented the new Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) program empowering seniors to prevent healthcare fraud.
Mary Edwards, Consumer Affairs program manager, gave an update on the top five 2007 Senior Tar Heel Legislature priorities that were presented to the legislature at the beginning of the year.
The STHL is advocating to appropriate additional funding for home and community based services, increase funding for senior centers, shift the cost of Medicaid from counties to state, provide prescription drug assistance for low-income people 65 and older and provide dental care for older adults with special needs in rural areas.
A report was presented by the N.C. Division of Aging and Adult services listing key issues for 2007 that included: how communities can prepare for the aging boom; key challenges in the area of housing, transportation, public safety, healthy aging, and health promotion; civic engagement, senior friendly communities, and senior centers; and victim assistance programs and scam prevention.
The NC Disability and Elderly Emergency Management (DEEM) initiative to strengthen the emergency preparedness and response for people with disabilities and the elderly living in NC was presented.
Rick Eldridge, executive director of the Rufty-Holmes Senior Center in Salisbury, was a presenter in a panel discussion about senior centers in North Carolina.
At the end of the session, the delegates visited the legislature to advocate the issues of interest to their community, county and state.