Kupuna Caucus Proposes 10 Bill Package to Support Seniors
The Legislature’s Kupuna Caucus is proposing a package of 10 bills to assist Hawai‘i’s senior community, which is the most rapidly growing segment of the state’s population. It is projected that those over age 60 will comprise one-third of the population of Hawaiʻ‘i by 2035.
Kupuna Caucus co-convenors Rep. Gregg Takayama (D-Pearl City, Waimalu, Pacific Palisades) and Sen. Sharon Y. Moriwaki (D- Waikīkī, Ala Moana, Kaka‘ako, McCully, Mo‘ili‘ili) say the package includes measures to help seniors avoid nursing homes by helping them age in place in their own residences, assist working caregivers, and assisting all residents plan for financially secure and actively engaged retirements.
Newly-elected Sen. Moriwaki is a long-time advocate for kupuna, with a doctorate in gerontology, having worked at the California Department of Aging, and established the first gerontology center at the University of Hawai‘i.
“We need greater resources to help care for our kupuna,” Moriwaki said. “That’s why the legislature, through the Kupuna Caucus, continues to prioritize programs for our seniors based on the suggestions and concerns of our community. This package would allow kupuna to better live their golden years with dignity, comfort, and proper care.”
Brief descriptions of the bills are provided below:
- (HB 467/SB 1025) Appropriates $2 million for the Kupuna Caregivers Program and allows up to $350 per week to assist caregivers. The Kupuna Caregivers Program – the first of its kind in the nation – was enacted two years ago and provides services valued up to $70 per day to assist employed caregivers to obtain care for elder care recipients eligible for Kupuna Care.
“This proposed change would provide more flexibility in the range of respite services available and enable us to help more caregivers.” said Rep. Takayama. “For example, in-home nursing assistance costs more than $70 per day but could be provided once or twice a week if this measure is enacted.”
- (HB 468/SB 1026) Appropriates $605,000 to reestablish the Healthy Aging Partnership Program to help improve the health and well-being of Hawaii’s kupuna by offering community courses in health promotion, disease prevention and exercise. The program began in 2003 but lost funding last year.
- (HB 465/SB 1023) Appropriates $9 million to continue the Kupuna Care Program, which since 1999 has helped frail seniors age in place in their homes by providing services such as homemaking assistance, delivered meals, and assisted transportation.
- . (HB 466/SB 1024) Appropriates $3.1 million for the Aging and Disability Resource Center, which offers one-stop referral services in each county to help kupuna and other eligible residents.
- (HB 469/SB 1027) Requires health insurance plans to cover the cost of hearing aids at a minimum of $1,500 per hearing aid for each hearing-impaired ear, with replacement every 3 years.
- (HB 470/SB 1028) Requires a feasibility study on establishing a Hawaii retirement savings program to cover private sector employees who are not provided a retirement savings plan by their employers. Subject to a positive finding in the feasibility study, it would create the Hawaiʻi retirement savings board to establish, implement, and maintain the Hawaii retirement savings program.
- (HB 472/SB 1030) Implements an active aging initiative under the Executive Office on Aging to establish an inventory of resources to help seniors seeking employment, volunteer activities and recreation opportunities; and to sponsor pre-retirement workshops to aid seniors plan for health, engaged post-retirement lives.
- (HB 473/SB 1031) Establishes a rental assistance pilot program for kupuna. Ensures that elders in the program will not pay more than 50 percent of their income for rent, in addition to providing housing counseling and landlord assistance.
- . (HB 474/SB 1032) Appropriates $800,000 to establish a dementia screening and awareness pilot program, with a specific emphasis on Native Hawaiian and uninsured populations.
- (HB 471/SB 1029) Requires the Policy Advisory Board for Elder Affairs to establish quorum requirements through its bylaws and post its bylaws on the Executive Office on Aging’s website.