OLDER IOWANS LEGISLATURE PRIORITY ISSUES FOR 2022

The 2021 session of the Older Iowans Legislature enacted four Priority Issues for action in 2022 or submission to the 2022 session of the Iowa General Assembly in January 2022 for enactment by July 1, 2022.  The Priority Issues are as follows:

Direct Care Workers:  OIL appreciates steps taken by DHS/DPH to advance activities outlined in HF692 (Proposed during the 2021 Legislative Session) by including the expansion of the direct care worker registry and voluntary public portal of caregivers in their American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) spending plan. OIL is committed to helping implement and sustain this important policy initiative.

Further, OIL acknowledges the need to address various other concerns involving direct care workers and family caregivers, such as:

  • Recruitment
  • Retention
  • Pay
  • Education
  • Advancement
  • Income tax incentives
  • Safety

OIL will explore possible solutions, collaborate with those entities working on the problems, and support further administrative steps and/or legislation that address the problems.

Elder Abuse:  Iowa does not have a comprehensive elder abuse law.  The Iowa Senate unanimously passed Senate File 522 in March 2021.  The Iowa House Judiciary subcommittee also passed SF 522, but it was not acted upon by the full House Judiciary Committee. By passing the Senate in 2021, Senate File 522 only needs to pass the Iowa House in 2022 (second year of the two-year session).  OIL will continue to support the passage of Senate File 522 which establishes specific penalties for acts of elder abuse including assault, theft, financial exploitation, consumer frauds, & dependent adult abuse.  OIL will further collaborate with those entities working on elder abuse legislation.

Livable Homes: OIL supports the Livable Homes Program Coalition whose aim is to:

  • Keep residents in their homes as long as possible
  • Return persons to their homes with home modifications
  • Support an appropriation request for home modifications or safe at home or Age-in-Place programs language in the Health & Human Services Appropriations bill

Long-Term Care Ombudsman: The Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman (LTCO) advocates on behalf of residents of long-term care facilities in order to protect their rights.   OIL supports efforts to enhance public awareness of the services provided by the office and to provide the money necessary to expand the number of long-term ombudsmen and provide them the tools needed to perform their jobs effectively, efficiently, and safely.

Federal funds are available under ARPA.  OIL supports the LTCO’s request to allocate such funds to include $100,000 to technology and computer upgrades, $50,000 for staff travel expenses, in service, education, and training, and $50,000 for public awareness materials and an awareness campaign.

OIL further supports a bill for an act relating to the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman and making an appropriation of $300,000 to increase the number of long-term care ombudsmen by two and also provide for a Discharge and Transition Specialist.   This funding would allow the office to return to the number of ombudsmen it had in 2016 in order to handle the increasing demand for assistance by residents.   According to information provided by LTCO and the Department of Inspection and Appeals there are 56,975 long-term beds in Iowa.  The need for more ombudsmen is real.  The Specialist will alleviate work currently done by the ombudsmen regarding discharge and transition back into the community.

For further information contact OIL’s Chair Larry Kudej at ldkudej@aol.com