The Washington State Legislature recently passed Senate Bill 5745, which expands Medicaid services for seniors and people with physical disabilities, with the support from local legislators and advocacy from the Area Agency on Aging & Disabilities of SW Washington (AAADSW) advisory council members.
Mike Reardon, the executive director for the agency, said the approval of the bill was a win for individuals who receive Medicaid in-home services and support.
“It doubled the amount of money the individual is allowed to keep to spend on personal needs such as rent (or) mortgage payments, food, utilities, transportation and other personal expenses,” Reardon said.
He said the bill allows individuals to put more of their money “back in their pockets in order for them to make daily and monthly ends meet.”
According to Reardon, the current personal needs allowance is $1,074.
“For example, if I have $1,600 a month in income, anything over that $1,074, I’d have to pay toward the cost of my care,” Reardon explained. “Now that the ceiling is raised to $2,500, this individual would be able to keep all of that additional money and pay for their personal needs, as opposed to it going toward the cost of their care. It’s really based on how much monthly income an individual has.”
Another provision of the bill provides Medicaid recipients with long-term services and support.
Reardon said he’s grateful for the “hard work” of local legislators and the AAADSW advisory council members for helping to advance the bill.
“They got behind SB5745 and made sure the bill made it through the legislative process in a short session and they did it successfully,” he said. “That was a tremendous lift to get this piece of legislation through that process. Every legislator in the 17th, 18th and 49th district voted in favor of this bill, Democrat and Republican alike, so there was bipartisan support. It was a terrific win for these eligible individuals.”
He recognizes the urgency of the bill as well, especially with the economic issues the COVID-19 pandemic has caused.
“Imagine being able to live with only $1,074 a month. That’s not very much, particularly in light of inflation and housing costs,” Reardon said. “But now, if your income is above that $1,074, you’re allowed to keep a lot more of your own money to buy your grandson or granddaughter a birthday gift or maybe be able to go out to a meal in a restaurant, whereas before, you would ask yourself ‘how am I going to make ends meet?’”
Reardon said the bill was “heavily supported right off the bat.” The advisory council, Reardon and legislators met via Zoom to discuss its importance. The council members were also constituents in the legislators’ districts as well, he said.
“It passed with an overwhelming majority in both the house and the senate. I think there may have been less than five no votes in the house and in the senate combined across the entire state,” Reardon said. “I think it’s a well-supported piece of legislation as well as well-understood by our legislators. Kudos to them.”
SB5745 goes into effect on July 1.
More information on the AAADSW can be found online at helpingelders.org.
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