Category: SNAP Gap

Seniors blast state for ‘failing elders’

By Katie Lannan / State House News ServicePosted Mar 13, 2019 at 2:01 AM  

BOSTON – Gathering in the State House Monday, dozens of senior advocates chanted to state legislators: “Massachusetts can do better.”

Kathy Paul, president of the North Shore chapter of the Massachusetts Senior Action Council, led the chant, encouraging advocates to keep pressure on their lawmakers.

“We will not stop until we see the senior health care gap close,” Paul said at a lobby day hosted by senior and home care groups. “We will not stop until every senior can afford food. We will not stop until housing and health care is a right, because Massachusetts can do better.”

Paul and other speakers at the event urged seniors and caregivers to share their stories and make sure their issues remain top-of-mind for the lawmakers who will build next year’s state budget and consider the many priority bills filed by supportive members this year.

“This system is broken, and it is failing our elders, and it is time to change that,” said Sarah Blakeney of the Senior Action Council. “I stand here before you, at the age of 91, to say, we should take a stand.”

According to statistics presented by advocacy groups, one in 10 adults age 60 and over in Massachusetts receive food assistance benefits, more than 844,000 Bay Staters are caring for aging parents or loved ones, and the average Social Security benefit for a family of adults 65-years-old or older is about $16,791 per year.

At 1.4 million, adults 60 and older make up 21 percent of the state’s population.

The event was organized by several groups, including the Senior Action Council, the AARP of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Councils on Aging, Mass. Home Care, the Alzheimer’s Association, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts and the Home Care Aide Council. Advocates highlighted legislation addressing access to health care for seniors, support for family caregivers and home care workers, and housing affordability.

Mattie Lacewell of the Senior Action Council’s Springfield chapter said caring for an ailing loved one can take a toll. An 82-year-old who described herself as a “fairly healthy old lady,” Lacewell said her sister-in-law suffers from Alzheimer’s and her brother, who had been his wife’s primary caregiver, is now in declining health.

Lacewell said her brother has had to fill out an “overwhelming” number of forms, but has not been able to get MassHealth coverage for his wife. Applying for food assistance has also “been tough,” she said.

“It’s like you’re going around in a circle. What I hope for is that the application process could be a little more simplified, because it’s frustrating, it really, really is,” Lacewell said. “When we see our representatives today, we’re going to tell them — we’re not going to ask them anymore, we’re going to tell them — that we need a better system. We want to end the struggle of applying for the help that we’re entitled to.”

Bills filed by Sen. Sal DiDomenico and Rep. Jay Livingstone (S 678, H 1173) would create a common application for benefits, including MassHealth and the supplemental nutrition assistance (SNAP), or food stamps. According to the Law Reform Institute, allowing simultaneous applications for MassHealth and SNAP would increase food access for more than 100,000 elders in Massachusetts.

Lacewell called it “atrocious” that someone on a fixed income might need to choose between paying for groceries and medication.

Gov. Charlie Baker, in his fiscal 2020 budget, proposed expanding eligibility for the Medicare Savings Program, which help seniors pay for Medicare premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. Baker’s proposal would increase the income limits for different tiers of the program — currently ranging from 100 percent to 135 percent of the federal poverty level — to 130 percent to 165 percent of the federal poverty level.

Advocates on Monday voiced support for that plan, but also called for the passage of bills (S 640, H 615) that would expand Medicare Savings Program eligibility to 300 percent of the poverty level.

Other bills backed by the groups include one that would require Massachusetts Senior Care Options plans to provide consultations with experts when members are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and related dementias (H 614, S 367), and another to establish a tax credit for family caregivers (H 2608, S 702).

Sen. Patricia Jehlen, a 75-year-old Somerville Democrat who chairs the Elder Affairs Committee with Newton Rep. Ruth Balser, told the senior advocates that they are “helping to change the image of old people.”

“I think you’re changing the image of us as being victims, of people who need help — we all need help, but as people who are problem solvers as well,” she said.

https://www.patriotledger.com/news/20190313/seniors-blast-state-for-failing-elders

https://www.heraldnews.com/news/20190313/seniors-blast-state-for-failing-elders

https://www.southcoasttoday.com/news/20190311/seniors-blast-state-for-failing-our-elders

https://somerville.wickedlocal.com/news/20190312/seniors-blast-state-for-failing-our-elders

DiDomenico Continues the Fight for Anti-Hunger Policies

October 5, 2018

By 

As part of Hunger Action Month, Sen. Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett) last week participated in the Hunger Awareness Rally at the State House. DiDomenico was joined at the rally by DTA Commissioner Jeff McCue, Representative Jay Livingstone, Representative Hannah Kane and Representative Joe McGonagle.

Sen. DiDomenico has long made food insecurity and nutrition policy a top priority and has been a leading champion for anti-hunger policies in the Massachusetts Legislature. At the rally, DiDomenico was recognized for his advocacy in the Legislature, and he spoke on the importance fighting against cuts to nutritional programming on the federal level and the need to continue expanding access to these services here in Massachusetts.

“While nutritional access is under attack at the federal level, here in Massachusetts, we know how valuable nutritional programs like SNAP are when it comes to improving the health and wellbeing our hardworking families,” said Sen. DiDomenico. “I, along with my legislative partner, will continue working to ensure that everyone in our Commonwealth has access to the nutrition they need and deserve, and I am very proud to be the lead Senate sponsor of policies like the SNAP Gap and Breakfast After The Bell bills to help expand nutritional access for our Commonwealth’s children and families. I would like to especially thank The Greater Boston Food Bank, Project Bread, the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and countless other hunger relief organizations for their partnership and that all they do to raise awareness on this incredibly important issue for our Commonwealth and our nation.”

 

The Senator has personally filed two major pieces of legislation this session that would have a direct impact on food insecurity here in the Commonwealth:
  • An Act improving public health through a common application for core food, health and safety-net programs (i.e. the SNAP Gap bill)- This bill would create a common application portal to let low-income households apply for MassHealth and SNAP at the same time, thereby consolidating the application process and raising awareness of SNAP eligibility. This bill would help more low income students access free school meals, increasing food access for over 100,000 Massachusetts elders, and help more families meet their basic needs.
  • An Act regarding to breakfast after the bell-  This legislation would require all public K-12 schools with 60-percent or more students eligible for free or reduced-price meals under the federal National School Lunch Program to offer breakfast after the instructional day begins to increase student participation in free and reduced price breakfasts and decrease the amount of kids that start the school day hungry.

The Senator’s breakfast after the bell bill passed the Massachusetts Senate in July with a unanimous and bipartisan vote, and Sen. DiDomenico is continuing to work with the Rise and Shine MA coalition to advocate for the bill’s final passage during informal session by the end of the year.