Delegate represents Rowan in senior legislature meeting

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 23, 2015

By Jerry Shelby

For the Salisbury Post

RALEIGH – Jerry Shelby represented Rowan County at the North Carolina Senior Tar Heel Legislature (NCSTHL) meeting in Raleigh March 16 and 17 to work on legislative priorities for the coming year. In addition, the group heard updates regarding budget cuts to vital programs for older adults and the importance of advocating on behalf of older adults in the community.

The Senior Tar Heel Legislature 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 is the Rowan County Delegate to the Senior Tar Heel Legislature. He serves on the Legislation Issues Committee and the Resolutions Committee. 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.

The NCSTHL’s top five priorities for 2015 include:

  1. Maintain funding for senior centers.
  2. Home and community care block grant funding.
  3. Strengthen and fund North Carolina’s adult protective services program.
  4. Notify Medicare patients admitted their status when admitted for observations.
  5. Preserve or restore optional Medical services

Speakers at the meeting included Suzanne Merrill, director of Division of Aging and Adult Services, who reported the legislative updates, budget needs and implementation activities.

Renna Sheety, Division of Aging and Adult Services, spoke about four important activities that need support and advocacy to avoid the budget chopping block. These included the 80th anniversary of Social Security and the program’s importance in preventing poverty; the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid, which provide medical insurance for the retired, disabled, and the disadvantaged; the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act; the 50th anniversary event and fifth White House Conference on Aging will be held in 2015.

The OAA has been reauthorized 16 times. The act has not been made permanent. Essential services include advisory councils and services, supporting senior centers, adult day care, home services, information and assistance, nutrition assistance with congregate meal sites and home delivered meals, transportation assistance, senior employment programs, disease prevention and health promotion, caregiver support program, elder abuse and exploitation prevention.

Sheety pointed out the dilemma of curtailed services due to budget cuts. Two billion dollars goes to the United States OAA. The United States gives $10 billion to the elderly in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Regional forums are planned to engage the public. Key issues are improvements to Social Security and Medicare; retirement security and planning; healthy aging, including community support in maintaining vitality; housing and transportation support; long-term services and support to remain independent in the community as older people age, and elder abuse and vulnerability to financial exploitation, abuse and neglect.

Shelby also represented Rowan County in Raleigh these same days with the NC Coalition on Aging and NCAARP. All three agencies have similar priorities.

Shelby visited, shared and advocated the priorities at the North Carolina Legislature by visiting the two state representative and two Senate offices that represent Rowan County. They are Reps. Harry Warren, District 77, and Carl Ford, District 76; and Sens. Andrew Brock, District 34 ,and Tom McInnis, District 25.

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