Over 100 people gathered on May 10 at the Providence Marriott Downtown to thank five very special people who have been active leaders in creating a better quality of life for Rhode Island's seniors. The event, our Fifth Annual Awards Luncheon, honored former Representative Elaine Coderre, Karen Mensel, Senator Gayle Goldin, Mary Lou Moran, and Meg Underwood. Senator Jack Reed spoke about the importance of preserving the Affordable Care Act and protecting Medicare and Medicaid, and Rose Jones, newly appointed Director of the Division of Elderly Affairs, discussed her plans for improving senior services in the state. The first three honorees researched, crafted and enacted legislation creating Rhode Island's Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI) program that provides wage replacement benefits for persons who take time off from work to provide volunteer care for a seriously ill child, spouse, domestic partner or relative. Meg Underwood and Mary Lou Moran advocated tirelessly for senior service funding by organizing meetings and bring out senior consumers to testify at budget hearings and Senior Agenda forums.
Senior Agenda board members from left, Jack Indeck, Chair Emeritus, Jack Reinholt, Chair, Susan Saccoccia-Olson, George Neubauer, Virginia Neves Gonsalves, Vs Gonsalves, Co-Chair, and Bob Cox.
Our 12th Anniversary Fall Conference & Expo will convene this fall on Friday, November 1 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick from 8 to noon. Watch for specific information over the summer.
The Senior Agenda Coalition held our third annual Legislative Leaders Forum on March 5. Before a large audience Senator Dominick Ruggerio, President of the RI Senate, and Representative Joseph Shekarchi, the House Majority Leader (representing the Speaker of the House) responded positively to our six top priority legislation and budget requests for this session: 1) Continued funding of the No-Fare RIPTA Bus Pass Program serving 18,000 low-income seniors and persons living with disabilities; 2) Funding for an Independent Provider (IP) homecare option under Medicaid; 3) Expanding eligibility to more people for a “Co-Pay” homecare program where individuals and the state would share the costs; 4) $185,000 in funding for respite care for seniors’ volunteer caregivers; 5) Elevating the status of the RI Division of Elderly Affairs to an “office” reporting directly to the Governor; and 6) Increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates for agencies providing homecare.
Governor Gina Raimondo has included funding for all of these requests, except respite care, in her FY 2020 budget. The Forum concluded with questions from the audience. Several questioners asked about funding for other senior programs. The leaders repeated the phrases, “ tough budget year” and “structural deficit,” while reminding us that our requests needed to be balanced with other needs.
For a video of the proceedings, go to:
SAGE representatives, from left, Tai Bacani, Bob O'Neil, Cathy Gorman, The Rev. Donnie Anderson, and Marjorie Moskol