The Senior Alliance's Monthly Advocacy Update
February 24, 2021
Volume 2.2
Welcome to The Senior Alliance's advocacy newsletter, COLLOQUY!
This monthly e-mail is a look at issues, legislation and policies impacting aging.
Immediate Direct Care Worker Wage Advocacy Needed:
The $2 per hour Direct Care Worker (DCW) premium wage increase from the State of Michigan is set to expire on February 28th. Your voice is needed NOW to encourage the State House of Representatives to extend it!

In April 2020 the legislature and governor approved a $2 per hour wage increase to support DCWs who are working with older adults and those living with a disability during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been documented by Dr. Claire Luz at Michigan State University that we need 32,000 more DCWs right now to meet the need. This premium wage increase is an important way to support those doing this critical work, but who sometimes earn just above the minimum wage.

Our advocacy needs to focus on the State House of Representatives, as the State Senate is supportive. Contact your State Representative now with a simple message:

"I support extending the $2 per hour direct care worker wage increase immediately. This pay increase is helping to recruit and retain the direct care workers who are essential to serving and supporting older adults and persons with disabilities in their own homes and local communities. This is difficult and sometimes dangerous work. We must grow the direct care workforce if we are going to meet the needs of our rapidly aging population. Please work to extend the premium pay increase for direct care workers."

Click here to identify your State Representative:
Executive Branch FY 2022 Budget Presented:
On February 11th Governor Gretchen Whitmer and her budget team presented the governor's recommendation for the state's fiscal year 2022 budget and a supplemental fiscal year 2021 appropriation. Base funding for the Aging & Adult Service Agency (AASA) in-home and nutrition services line items are proposed at FY 2021 amounts. There are increases for those two line items proposed in the document, but the source appears to be a potential allocation of additional federal COVID-19 relief dollars. AASA's budget also includes carryover of other federal dollars into FY 2022.

The Senior Alliance will advocate that the state budget reflect structural increases to the in-home services and nutrition services line items that eliminate the existing wait lists for these programs across the state. To that end, we are supporting a $6.375 million increase for the in-home services line item and a $1 million increase to the nutritional services line item in AASA's FY 2022 budget.
Federal COVID-19 Relief Package Moving Through Congress:
Congress is currently considering a new COVID-19 relief package that includes more than $1.4 billion in emergency funding for Older Americans Act (OAA) programs, including $750 million for OAA nutritional services.
 
Last week committees in the House marked up (debated and amended) pieces of the legislation. Earlier this week the House Budget Committee combined these separate pieces into one large bill. Next, the House Rules Committee will meet to incorporate additional amendments, review the bill, ensure it adheres to reconciliation rules and does not exceed Congress' agreed upon spending limits. The full House will then vote on the COVID-19 bill, possibly this weekend. If the House approves the bill it will then go to the U.S. Senate for consideration.
What is "Reconciliation"?
You may have heard the term, "reconciliation," over the past few weeks in relation to the potential passage a new federal COVID-19 relief package. If you want to learn more about this special legislative process, click here.
Listen to Our Podcast Series - "Inside The Senior Alliance":
Our new podcast series, "Inside The Senior Alliance," provides to-the-point information about our programs and services. Just search for "The Senior Alliance" to find it on Spotify, Apple, Stitcher and Google Podcasts. Each episode to-date is less than 14 minutes long.

Our first episode answers the question, "What is The Senior Alliance?" Other installments provide overviews of the MI Choice Waiver program, the Medicare Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP), our Supports Coordination function and our Information & Assistance service.

Click the button below to listen via our website.
Advocacy Questions: Please contact Jason Maciejewski, Chief Advocacy & Planning Officer, with any advocacy or public policy questions via e-mail at advocacy@thesenioralliance.org.
Subscribe:
If you've received our monthly advocacy update, COLLOQUY, from a friend or colleauge and would like to subscribe just click the button below or send an e-mail to: advocacy@thesenioralliance.org.
The Senior Alliance, Area Agency on Aging 1C
5454 Venoy Road, Wayne, MI 48184
800-815-1112