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Legislature Passes Key Bill Supporting Kupuna Care

AARP Hawaii celebrated a major win this legislative session with the passage of Act 191. The new law provides for nearly $23.8 million in funding for critical state services from the Emergency Budget and Reserve (Rainy Day) Fund – including $3.5 million for the Kupuna Care program.

Kupuna Care provides long-term care services to elderly residents in their homes – including hot meals, transportation, and assistance with bathing and grooming. The program is vital because it keeps middle-income seniors from falling into poverty and qualifying for state-financed institutionalized care, which adds to Hawaii’s costly Medicaid bill.

“Without this funding for the coming year, Kupuna Care faces certain cuts,” said AARP Hawaii State Director Barbara Kim Stanton. “That would be a blow to Hawaii seniors who rely on basic care to stay in their homes – such as a hot meal, help with chores and a bath several times a week.

“While we’re grateful the law has passed we’re not out of the woods yet,” Stanton said. “AARP is calling on volunteers and elder-care advocates across the state to contact the Governor’s Office and request release of the funds for Act 191. Without these services, tens of thousands of unpaid caregivers are in danger of burning out, and the number of elderly Medicaid recipients in Hawaii will surely increase.”

Research shows that state support for home- and community-based services can help lower the cost of elder care and preserve the safety net for future generations. According to a recent profile of long-term care and independent living trends by AARP’s Public Policy Institute, on average, home-based services like Kupuna Care can serve three older people or adults with disabilities for the same amount of money it costs to take care of one resident in a nursing home.

That’s significant for Hawaii residents, who face among the highest nursing home costs in the country as well as a severe shortage of nursing home beds. Hawaii’s high cost of nursing care is increasingly ominous given the aging of state’s population: over the next 20 years, the number of residents age 85+ is projected to grow by 64 percent.

The new law received overwhelming bipartisan support in the state Legislature, with just one legislator voting against it. In addition to the $3.5 million for Kupuna Care services, it provides $950,000 for senior centers, $200,000 for respite services, and $100,000 for the Aging and Disability Resource Center.

Kupuna Care serves the non-Medicaid eligible gap group of Hawaii residents age 60+ who live at home and are impaired in at least two activities of daily living. The program is administered by the county aging offices on all islands. For information about qualifying for Kupuna Care visit www.hawaiiadrc.org.

Please support Kupuna Care by calling the Governor’s Office and asking Gov. Lingle to release the funding for Act 191. Dial 586-0034 or email governor.lingle@hawaii.gov.

Other Resources

Hawai'i Aging and Disability Resource Center

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