Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Fletcher Announces Vision for Improving Services to Kentucky Seniors

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, September 05, 2007  
Contact Information:  Jodi Whitaker

Governor presents plan at annual Aging and Independent Living Conference

FRANKFORT, Ky. - To build on Kentucky’s readiness efforts for the pending demographic shift, as the baby boomer generation becomes our senior population, Governor Ernie Fletcher today announced his vision for improving services to Kentucky seniors.

Governor Fletcher presented his aging-related legislative agenda at the 2007 Aging and Independent Living Conference in Louisville.

“I am committed to respecting the Kentuckians who have come before us by ensuring that seniors are able to grow old with dignity in our commonwealth,” said Governor Fletcher. “Failure to aggressively fund and support aging programs in Kentucky will leave our communities woefully unprepared for the retirement of the baby boomers.”

Governor Fletcher’s plan to help seniors “age in place” includes:

A Commitment to Take Thousands of Seniors Off Waiting Lists – Commit to a minimum of $5 million of new money in 2009, and an additional $5 million of new money in 2010 to fund such critical aging programs as Meals on Wheels, adult day care and home care. This plan would double the amount of new funding provided in the 2006–2008 biennial budget for Kentucky’s seniors.

Access to Long Term Care Coverage – Establish a Kentucky Long Term Care Partnership Insurance Program to help Kentuckians buy a special long-term care insurance that prevents people from having to impoverish themselves and helps protect some of their life savings. This partnership program serves as a bridge between private, long-term care insurance, including coverage for in-home care, and Medicaid’s nursing home coverage for the elderly.

Caregiver Tax Credits – Propose for legislative consideration a caregiver tax credit to reduce Kentucky tax for individuals who are responsible for the in-home care of an infirm, dependent relative or parent/grandparent who is at least 60, has little or no income, and has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Expand Consumer Directed Options – Enable people with Medicaid waivers to hire their own caregivers and “age in place” at home.

Partner with Public Housing – Expand the Medicaid provider base to include public housing authorities to ensure individuals are able to receive nonmedical Medicaid services while staying in their residences.

“I firmly believe in focusing on long term living for Kentucky’s senior citizens and individuals with long term needs,” Governor Fletcher said. “True healthy living encompasses not only our physical health, but also our ability to live and participate freely, independently and with dignity in our own communities, in our own homes.”

In his remarks, Governor Fletcher detailed initiatives launched during his administration, including:

  • Increased funding for aging programs, including home care, adult day and personal care programs, by more than $7.5 million over two years.
  • Awarded $3.2 million over two years to support grandparents raising grandchildren and other caregiver programs, as part of a program introduced by Rep. Jimmie Lee (D-Elizabethtown) in 2006.
  • Provided $100,000 in partnership with Sen. Denise Harper Angel (D-Louisville) for a pilot program to assist facilities in preparing for growth in the number of individuals with dementia.
  • Launched the Kentucky Elder Readiness Initiative to help determine communities’ readiness for the aging baby boomer population.
  • Developed the Kentucky Resource Market, a one-stop shop for information on aging and disability resources.
  • Created the Consumer Directed Option program that allows people with Medicaid waivers to employ a provider. Already, more than 800 people are enrolled in the program that has provided them with the flexibility to receive the care they need, while staying in their own homes.
  • Created the Department for Aging and Independent Living, in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, to serve as the central agency coordinating policy and services for Kentucky’s seniors and individuals with disabilities.

“My administration’s initiatives in this area – both the ones we have accomplished and the ones we continue to work toward – are focused on helping seniors and individuals with disabilities live the kind of lives they choose to live,” Governor Fletcher said. “To ensure those choices, we must continue to focus on funding programs like Meals on Wheels, the Consumer Directed Option and the Kentucky Resource Market that help elder Kentuckians and their families.”