SC has a new Lt. Governor
Congratulations to Lt. Governor Yancey McGill. He assumed the position on June 18 upon the resignation of Lt. Governor McConnell who left office to become a college president. McGill has a great deal of experience in state government having served as a senator and key member of the Senate Finance Committee. He has already shown his commitment to his new role by announcing his intentions to visit Councils on Aging and other senior programs around the state.
Funding for Home and Community Based Services
The Legislature appropriated $3 million in new funding for home and community based services. The funds will be distributed by the Lt. Governor’s Office on Aging to pay for services such as home delivered and congregate meals, in home care, transportation and adult day health care. A special thank you goes out to Senators Hugh Leatherman, Thomas Alexander, Joel Lourie, Billy O’Dell and Clementa Pinckney and Representatives Brian White, Jim Merrill, Liston Barfield and Gilda Cobb-Hunter for their support of this new funding. AARP South Carolina volunteers made contact with several legislators through visits in their respective communities and as part of our March Lobby Day event.
As part of our national effort to increase awareness and secure additional help for family caregivers, AARP South Carolina worked with the Governor’s Office to secure a proclamation to advance and support the work of the Institute of Medicine and Public Health’s Long Term Care Task Force. The task force will make policy and systems recommendations in early 2015. Read more about AARP South Carolina
AARP South Carolina staff and volunteers serve on the task force. And a big thank you to AARP South Carolina volunteers who participated in the event with Governor Haley and who spoke to the media about their roles as family caregivers.
The Legislature approved $2 million for vouchers for respite for family caregivers. This funding is coming from one time revenue sources. The Governor vetoed the funding. Thanks to the hard work of our AARP volunteers who contacted their House and Senate members, the veto was overridden in the House by a vote of 103 to 6 and in the Senate by a vote of 39 to 4.
AARP South Carolina will work in 2015 to ensure this funding becomes more secure.
Volunteer Adult Guardian ad Litem Program
AARP South Carolina, in partnership with numerous organizations and stakeholders, advocated for passage of legislation to establish a statewide volunteer guardian ad litem program to work with vulnerable adults in cases that involve Family Court and the Adult Protective Services law. In 2010 in South Carolina, there were over 3,000 reports received of vulnerable adults being abused, neglected or exploited. Over 500 of these reports resulted in court cases. The SC Department of Health and Human Services and the Arnold School for Public Health’s Office for the Study of Aging (OSA) partnered to create a three-year pilot program that would build an infrastructure to train and provide volunteer GALs to the Family Courts. This new law will transition the program statewide. During the next 12 months AARP South Carolina will work with the Arnold School for Public Health’s Office for the Study of Aging to help recruit volunteers. We will also work in 2015 to secure dedicated state funding for the program. In mid-2015, the program will be moved to the Lt. Governor’s Office on Aging. “Just as we have an effective volunteer guardian ad litem program to protect vulnerable children, so we need one to protect vulnerable adults," Teresa Arnold, AARP South Carolina state director.
AARP South Carolina continues to work with our coalition partners on the goal of expanding Medicaid so that more seniors can have access to health care. Expansion would help 50 to 64-year-olds across our state who are working in jobs that do not provide health benefits or are struggling to find new jobs and can’t afford health care. There are 65,000 50 to 64-year-olds in South Carolina who would be eligible for Medicaid if South Carolina chooses to expand.
AARP South Carolina was pleased to support ethics reform legislation that would have established an independent investigatory body to review ethics complaints and would have required full income disclosure from public officials. While the legislation did not pass, AARP South Carolina did gain a reputation as a leader in good government.
Our state AARP driver safety coordinators stepped up and expressed their support of legislation to ban texting while driving. Thanks to their work and the work of other statewide safety advocates, the legislation passed.
AARP South Carolina also worked on other legislation ranging from electronic morning in nursing facilities to issues related to training and employment for 50 plus workers. Stay tuned for more information on these and other items as develop our 2015 legislative priorities.