Sen. Kelly Updates Community on Senior Issues

September 22, 2014

Trumbull – State Senator Kevin Kelly (R-21) joined community leaders at a special meeting of the Greater Bridgeport Elder Services Council on September 17. The meeting took place on Wednesday morning at Middlebrook Farms, 2750 Reservoir Avenue, Trumbull.

Sen. Kelly, Ranking Member of the General Assembly’s Aging Committee, led a discussion about various aging issues and related legislation in Connecticut.

Topics discussed included the Connecticut Home Care Program, the impact of the Fair Labor Standards Act on home care costs, and Medicare reimbursements for durable medical equipment.

“As we age, we all deserve the right to remain in our own homes and communities. Connecticut is working towards embracing aging-in-place and I am happy to have helped this initiative grow significantly in recent years. However, there are still many ways we can continue improving senior care, services and opportunities,” said Kelly.

Presumptive Eligibility

One of the topics discussed focused on the state’s Home-Care Program and presumptive eligibility. The Home-Care Program gives seniors access to in-home medical services, help with daily chores, and other assisted living services right in their own homes. However, the program does not operate with presumptive eligibility – meaning that applicants have to wait until their financial assistance application is processed before receiving care services.

The waiting period has a federally mandated standard of 45 days, but many applicants have seen that period grow much longer. Senator Kelly has advocated for legislation that would allow applicants to start receiving home care in the month they apply for assistance, rather than months later when DSS processes the application.

“Assistance delayed is assistance denied. The longer people are forced to wait for in-home care, the more likely their ailments can worsen in that time. Our goal is to keep people out of institutionalized care facilities. But if they are denied care when they need it, that’s exactly where they could end up if the application wait period continues,” said Kelly.

Fair Labor Standards Act

Senator Kelly also explained the impact of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in Connecticut. The new law, which goes into effect in 2015, could have a negative effect on some people who receive in-home care.

Under the law, home care providers who spend more than 20 percent of their time doing general housework for their employer must be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours per week. This means that in some situations, seniors who employ these care providers could have to pay significantly more than they used to previously.

Durable Medical Equipment

Meeting attendees also talked about the difficult process of applying for Medicare reimbursement for durable medical equipment. To get reimbursed, a person must have an at-home physician visit to examine the equipment. This can be difficult for many, but some new solutions are on the horizon. Telemedicine could be promising and so could a new law granting APRNs (advanced practice registered nurses) greater freedoms in how they run their medical practices. If your doctor cannot do a house call, APRNs may now be able to help instead.

The Greater Bridgeport Elder Services Council is made up of representatives from public, private and voluntary agencies and institutions such as nursing facilities, community-based agencies, and municipal employees from the area. All members provide support services to the elderly residents of the Greater Bridgeport area.