Sacramento, California - Governor Gavin Newsom today signed SB 228 by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), which builds on the executive order he signed in June announcing the creation of a Master Plan for Aging to address some of the challenges California’s growing aging population is encountering. SB 228 builds on actions the Governor has taken on this issue in his first nine months in office to not only promote healthy aging in the state, but also ensure protections for senior citizens.
“Every day, 1,000 Californians turn 65 years old, and in the next twenty years, senior citizens will represent 20 percent of our state’s population,” said Governor Newsom. “Older Californians deserve dignity and our state’s respect. Californians are living longer, and they are facing new challenges and uncertainties, including issues like health care, housing, and overall services and support. Our Master Plan will help the state prepare for this transition.”
The executive order called for the secretary of the Health and Human Services Agency to convene a cabinet-level Workgroup for Aging to advise the secretary in developing and issuing the Master Plan by October 2020. The Master Plan will serve as a blueprint that can be used by state government, local communities, private organizations and philanthropy.
SB 228 is complementary to the Master Plan work underway to implement strategies and partnerships that promote healthy aging. The bill facilitates thoughtful consideration of the California Department of Aging’s organization and structure in order to effectively implement and administer the Master Plan.
“By 2030, our older population will nearly double in California, bringing an increase of 4 million people over the age of 65. We owe it to them and all Californians to ensure that our state has thoughtfully prepared for this demographic shift,” said Senator Jackson. “The Master Plan will provide us with a roadmap for success.”
According to the California Department of Aging, by 2030, the 60+ population will be 40 percent larger than today. There are currently about 4 million Californians over the age of 60, which is about 11 percent of the population.
The Governor has also taken action on several issues affecting senior citizens. On Tuesday, Governor Newsom signed AB 1482 (Chiu), enacting the nation’s strongest statewide renter protections and SB 329 (Mitchell), banning Section 8 discrimination. Section 8 housing vouchers help California senior citizens age in place. Currently, 248,400 California seniors rely on rental assistance.
Additionally, the Governor on Monday signed legislation banning “pay for delay” to block pharmaceutical companies from keeping cheaper generic drugs off the market. Older adults take an average of 4.5 medications each month, which can add up to a total retail cost of more than $30,000 a year for brand-name drugs, according to AARP. AB 824 by Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) and sponsored by Attorney General Xavier Becerra, makes California the first state to tackle pay-for-delay agreements, which hurt many seniors who rely on life-saving treatments that are often prohibitively expensive.
The Governor also previously signed AB 1088 (Wood) -- which protects low-income seniors turning 65 and people with disabilities dually enrolled in Medi-Cal and Medicare by closing a loophole in existing law that causes them to lose access to free Medi-Cal coverage when the state begins paying their Medicare Part B premiums – and SB 338 (Hueso), which establishes a comprehensive and complete listing of laws protecting seniors and people with disabilities. The bill gives local law enforcement agencies tools to better protect California’s most vulnerable populations from harm and abuse.
Other actions taken by Governor Newsom included in the 2019-20 state budget include:
- Expanding eligibility for the Medi-Cal Aged, Blind, and Disabled program from 123 percent to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, no sooner than January 1, 2020.
- Restoring the 7-percent across-the-board reduction to IHSS service hours and re-benches the county IHSS Maintenance-of-Effort to account for growth in program costs.
- Funding the Alzheimer’s Disease Program and the Governor’s Task Force on Alzheimer’s Prevention and Preparedness.
- Increasing funding for the Senior Nutrition Program, which provides meals to seniors in both congregate and home-delivered settings.
- Supporting local Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs to provide quarterly visits to skilled nursing facilities and residential care facilities for the elderly.
- Increasing supplemental payments to the Multipurpose Senior Services Program.
- Funding grants to local Area Agencies on Aging and Independent Living Centers to complete the planning and application process to become Aging and Disability Resource Connections, which utilize the “No Wrong Door” model.
- Expanding grants through the Dignity at Home Fall Prevention Program to local Area Agencies on Aging for injury prevention education and home modifications for seniors who are at risk of falling or institutionalization.
- Funding statewide training for county Adult Protective Services staff and public guardians.
- Supporting a feasibility study and actuarial analysis of options to finance a long-term services and supports program.