On January 14, 2019, Iowa’s 88th General Assembly will begin the 2019 legislative session. Iowa’s GOP remains in control of the executive and legislative branch of Iowa’s government. Republican Governor Kim Reynolds, Iowa’s first female governor, will be joined by a record 44 female legislators (33 in the House, 11 in the Senate) in addressing funding and policy issues in Medicaid, education, and mental health, to name but a few. With such large issues on the policy table, Iowa’s Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) will continue to play a vital role as the cornerstone for cost-effective, non-Medicaid home and community-based services in Iowa.
In AARP’s 2011 survey, Voices of 50+ America Dreams & Challenges (1), 94% reported that having access to supports and services so that they can remain in their home for as long as possible was important. Iowa’s AAAs do just that. Through state funding, older Iowans have access to caregiver support, elder abuse prevention and assistance services, material aid and chore services directly through Iowa’s AAAs and LifeLong Links. Over 43,000 family caregivers were provided with information and support in FY 18 (July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018). An additional 17,000 people were provided with information about accessing supports and services. Iowa’s AAAs are also well known for supporting the health of older Iowans through their congregate and home-delivered meals programs, which provided over 2 million meals in FY 18 to nearly 30,000 Iowans. With continued support from Iowa’s congressional, state, and county elected officials, these services can continue providing support for older Iowans to remain in their home. Sustaining this effort will be challenging as Iowa’s aging population grows, with nearly 20% of its entire population being over the age of 65 by 2050 (2).
For Iowans to successfully age in place with the support of Iowa’s AAAs, Iowa’s Association of Area Agencies on Aging (i4a) announces its 2019 policy agenda: 1) support family caregivers; 2) protect older Iowans from exploitation; and 3) invest in community living and independence. Family caregivers provide more than $470 billion in unpaid care annually (3). Without family caregivers providing “free” medical care in the home, the health care system would collapse. Therefore, i4a supports legislation that promotes the health, well-being, and support for Iowa’s family caregivers. The Iowa Association of Area Agencies on Aging supports the CARE Act, which is sponsored by AARP Iowa.
Protecting older adults from exploitation was the focus of a November 12, 2018, joint elder justice summit provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for the Northern and Southern Districts of Iowa, and the Iowa Attorney General’s Office. This elder justice summit brought leaders from across the country and Iowa to discuss and advocate for efforts that curtail the exploitation of vulnerable older adults. It is estimated that over $35 billion is spent by taxpayers and victims to address financial exploitation and elder abuse (4). Iowa’s AAAs provided over 2,000 units of services for elder abuse and protection services in FY 18, which was done with extremely limited funding. Legislators are encouraged to provide support and protection for older Iowans through increased funding for elder abuse and prevention programs. Further investment in services provided by Iowa’s AAAs is also needed.
Iowa’s AAAs provide key home and community-based services and programs that do what older Iowans want, which is support to stay in their home. Through the AAAs congregate and home-delivered meal program, older Iowans experience reduced social isolation and increased access to nutrition. Accessing supports and services related to family caregiving, elder abuse and protection, and support services, such as chore and material aid for the home, can be daunting. Iowa’s LifeLong Links was the solution for over 60,000 people in FY 18 who sought support and services. Investing in Iowa’s AAAs only makes good fiscal sense.
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Follow this link to find your legislator’s contact information:
You can also follow the action of Iowa’s legislative body on your computer: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/chambers
You can contact Governor Reynolds office through this link: https://governor.iowa.gov/contact
Senator Chuck Grassley (https://www.grassley.senate.gov)
Senator Joni Ernst (https://ernst.senate.gov/public)
Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (1st District) (https://finkenauer.house.gov)
Congressman Dave Loebsack (2nd District) (https://loebsack.house.gov)
Congresswoman Cindy Axne (3rd District) (https://axne.house.gov)
Congressman Steve King (4th District) (https://steveking.house.gov)
- AARP (2011). Voices of 50+ America Dreams & Challenges. AARP Research & Strategic Analysis. Washington, D.C. Retrieved at https://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/general/voices-america-dreams-challenges-national.pdf.
- State Data Center of Iowa (2018). Older Iowans: 2018. Retrieved at https://www.iowadatacenter.org/Publications/older2018.pdf/view.
- Reinhard, et al. (2015). Valuing the invaluable: 2015 Update. AARP Public Policy Institute. Retrieved at https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/ppi/2015/valuing-the-invaluable-2015-update-new.pdf.
- National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (2018). Invest in cost-effective aging services. n4a Policy Prioritites 2018: Promote the Health, Security, and Well-Being of Older Adults. Retrieved from https://www.n4a.org/files/Invest%20in%20Cost-Effective%20Aging%20Services.pdf.
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