Shelby represents Rowan County at NC Senior Tar Heel meeting
RALEIGH — Jerry Shelby represented Rowan County at the N.C. Senior Tar Heel Legislature meeting last Tuesday and Wednesday 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.
Jerry Shelby is the Rowan County Delegate to the Senior Tar Heel Legislature. He serves on the Resolutions and the 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 Resolutions to the NC General Assembly for consideration into law.
Speakers at the meeting included:
Lanier Casler, Secretary of Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), noted that we are faced with unprecedented and historic times in terms of budget cuts. His department is cutting back 20 percent in services, taking us back to the last century, going back 10 years. We are cutting the services to the people that need it the most, the poor, unhealthy, disadvantaged, blind, and disabled. We are changing from practicing medicine to business of medicine. The lower income population will increase Medicaid from 1.5 million to 2.3 million people.
The Secretary explained Excels, a strategic plan that aims to help all North Carolinians attain optimal health and well-being, including older adults. The plan will make efficient use of public funds and offer effective services and support to individuals and families. Secretary Cansler stated five values that will lead to change and strengthen the department. (1) Each agency will remain customer-focused, (2) anticipate change, (3) collaborate with other divisions within NCDHHS and “break down existing silos”, (4) offer a transparent approach to decision-making, and (5) shift to results-oriented style of leadership. Secretary Cansler anticipates that NCDHHS Excels will make good use of tax dollars, provide improved assistance to individuals who utilize DHHS services.
Dennis Street, Director for NC Division of Aging and Adult Services, wore a purple ribbon in remembrance of Elder Abuse Awareness Day June 15th. He added that every 2.7-minutes an older adult is a victim of abuse. Last year there were more than 18,000 reports of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of vulnerable or older adults made to North Carolina’s 100 County Departments of Social Services. Other DAAS topics included the budget cuts, the Home and Community Block Grant that helps keep seniors in their homes including the meals on wheels and alternative transportation has a waiting list of over 15,400 elders that need special assistance. The goal of the state is “no senior left behind”. Also, keep senior centers operating to support the increased usage and demands for expanded services.
Street presented five Core Ideas to be ready for the future. (1) People helping one another and not depending on government to have all of the answers. (2) The importance of self-awareness and personal responsibility for sound physical, mental, and fiscal health. (3) Support to people that want to remain in their homes and actively engaged in community affairs. (4) Acknowledge the valuable contributions of family members supporting loved ones needing long-term assistance. (5) Communities must embrace the future and recognize the importance of being visionary and proactive in our planning and response for a maturing population.
Gala Woody, Centralina Council of Governments, spoke about the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act.
Kevin Robertson, State Health Insurance Information Program Director, (SHIIP), spoke about the many volunteers helping seniors and the disabled with their insurance and Medicare issues. He told the delegates about the State Low Income Subsidy (LIS) program. He also talked about a new program Health Smart NC for help to people needing insurance that are not old enough for Medicare.
Dr. Pam Silberman, North Carolina Institute on Aging, presented strategies to address issues within adult care homes that provide residence to older adults and individuals with mental illness. Adult care homes in North Carolina serve more than 18,000 residents with mental illness, intellectual and developmental disabilities, or Alzheimer’s disease/dementia.
Jerry Shelby, Delegate from Rowan County was recognized for being awarded the 2011 North Carolina Jaycees Senior Citizen of the Year Award.