Legislature(2017 - 2018)CAPITOL 106

05/04/2017 03:00 PM HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HJR 20 MEDICAID EXPANSION TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
+= HB 234 EXTEND ALASKA HEALTH CARE COMMISSION TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+= HB 236 EXTEND SENIOR BENEFITS PAYMENT PROGRAM TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
         HB 236-EXTEND SENIOR BENEFITS PAYMENT PROGRAM                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:27:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SPOHNHOLZ announced that the  final order of business would                                                               
be  HOUSE BILL  NO.  236,  "An Act  extending  the Alaska  senior                                                               
benefits payment program."                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:27:29 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MERCEDES  COLBERT, Staff,  Representative Scott  Kawasaki, Alaska                                                               
State  Legislature,   paraphrased  from  the   Sponsor  Statement                                                               
[included in  members' packets, which  read as  follows [original                                                               
punctuation provided]:                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     House  Bill  236  would   extend  the  Senior  Benefits                                                                    
     Program sunset  clause to  2022, ensuring  another four                                                                    
     years of support for low  income seniors across Alaska.                                                                    
     Without action, the program would end in 2018.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     The   Senior  Benefits   Program  protects   low-income                                                                    
     seniors by  providing them with modest  cash assistance                                                                    
     to pay  for expenses  like food,  heating, electricity,                                                                    
     transportation and prescription medication.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     The  program  was  established in  2007  and  currently                                                                    
     provides assistance  to nearly 12,000 Alaskans  ages 65                                                                    
     and older with incomes at  75 percent, 100 percent, and                                                                    
     175 percent  of the  federal poverty  level. Assistance                                                                    
     ranges from  $47 to $250  a month for  eligible seniors                                                                    
     depending on  income and the size  of the appropriation                                                                    
     from the Alaska State  Legislature. The Senior Benefits                                                                    
     Program is  a successor  to the Longevity  Bonus, which                                                                    
     was created in 1972.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     This important program protects  seniors who have spent                                                                    
     a lifetime building  this state. It lends  a small hand                                                                    
     to low-income seniors who need  assistance to help make                                                                    
     ends   meet.  Terminating   this   program  would   put                                                                    
     thousands of  seniors at risk  for losing means  to buy                                                                    
     essential  items necessary  for  maintaining a  healthy                                                                    
     lifestyle.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:28:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  asked what  determined the amount  of the                                                               
benefit.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:28:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. COLBERT explained  that the assistance amounts  were based on                                                               
income  level relative  to  the federal  poverty  level, from  75                                                               
percent to  175 percent,  dependent on the  award.   She reported                                                               
that there were also other  eligibility requirements, that assets                                                               
were not  counted toward income,  that the income  levels changed                                                               
annually  as  the federal  poverty  level  changed, and  that  an                                                               
eligible senior  could not be  in jail, and  could not be  in the                                                               
Alaska Pioneer Home,  the Alaska Veterans' home,  a nursing home,                                                               
or a public or private institution for mental disease.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
4:29:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  EASTMAN asked  about  the goal  for  each of  the                                                               
calculations.   As eligibility was  based on the  federal poverty                                                               
level, what  was the  desired level to  raise each  individual in                                                               
the program.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:30:37 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MONICA   WINDOM,  Director,   Division   of  Public   Assistance,                                                               
Department  of Health  and Social  Services,  explained that  the                                                               
dollar  amounts for  senior benefits  were set  in statute.   She                                                               
stated that  she did  not know  the reason  for the  exact dollar                                                               
amounts.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
4:30:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  asked how  long it  had been  since those                                                               
figures had been re-calculated.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. WINDOM replied that it had been since 2007.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:31:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSTON  reported that previously there  had been                                                               
a longevity  bonus for which  every senior  over 65 years  of age                                                               
qualified,  which  had  been changed  to  a  needs-based  program                                                               
during the administration of Governor Murkowski.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:31:53 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TARR   offered  her  belief  that   although  the                                                               
percentage  amount was  set  in statute,  the  dollar amount  was                                                               
annually adjusted for inflation.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
4:32:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  WINDOM  clarified  that  the income  limit  for  each  level                                                               
increased with the federal poverty level.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:32:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SPOHNHOLZ  asked if  the dollar amount  allowed was  set in                                                               
statute, and not by budget.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:32:35 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  WINDOM expressed  her agreement,  with one  exception.   She                                                               
explained  that the  regulations  had been  updated  to allow  an                                                               
adjustment of  the benefit  levels if  the appropriation  was not                                                               
enough  to meet  the  needs  based on  the  caseload  size.   She                                                               
pointed out  that in the past  year, the bottom two  income tiers                                                               
had been  fully funded, whereas the  top income tier was  given a                                                               
flat amount  of $76, based  on a projection of  the appropriation                                                               
and the number of recipients in the program, rather than $125.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
4:33:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSTON  mused that the governor  had removed the                                                               
top tier from the current budget.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. WINDOM replied, "I don't recall."                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  SPOHNHOLZ  asked  that  Ms. Colbert  report  back  to  the                                                               
committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:33:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE EASTMAN  asked about projections for  the next few                                                               
years and any impacts to the program.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:34:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. WINDOM replied  that based on history, it  was estimated that                                                               
caseloads would increase about 2 percent each year.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
4:34:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SPOHNHOLZ asked  how this annual increase  of caseloads was                                                               
reflected in "hard numbers."                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. WINDOM  reported that in  FY17, the highest income  level was                                                               
the only level that had decreased.   She shared that this highest                                                               
income level  had 5066  recipients in  FY14, and  currently there                                                               
were 4873 recipients.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:35:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SPOHNHOLZ  asked for a  follow up with this  information to                                                               
better understand  the trend and  the baseline in order  to grasp                                                               
the scope of the program.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
4:36:04 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SULLIVAN-LEONARD  directed attention to page  2 of                                                               
the  senior  benefits  program fact  sheet,  which  reported  the                                                               
increase for the number of recipients from 2011 to 2015.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. WINDOM reported that in  2011 there were 10,576 recipients in                                                               
the  program, and  that in  the  current year,  2016, there  were                                                               
11,629 recipients.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
4:37:14 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR SPOHNHOLZ appointed  a subcommittee to work on  HB 236 over                                                               
the interim  with the  bill sponsor and  the departments:   Chair                                                               
Spohnholz,  Representative  Tarr,  and  Representative  Sullivan-                                                               
Leonard.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
[HB 236 was held over.]                                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HJR 20 Supporting Document - Medicaid-Expansion-Just-the-Facts-April-2016 5.1.2017.pdf HHSS 5/4/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 5/16/2017 3:00:00 PM
HJR 20
HJR 20 Supporting Document - State Savings From Medicaid OMB 5.1.2017.pdf HHSS 5/4/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 5/16/2017 3:00:00 PM
HJR 20
HJR 20 Supporting Document - Uncompensated care 5.1.2017.pdf HHSS 5/4/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 5/16/2017 3:00:00 PM
HJR 20
HJR 20 ver J 5.1.2017.PDF HHSS 5/4/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 5/16/2017 3:00:00 PM
HJR 20
HJR 20 Sponsor Statement 5.1.2017.pdf HHSS 5/4/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 5/16/2017 3:00:00 PM
HJR 20
HJR 20 Supporting Document - Medicaid Dashboard 5.1.2017.pdf HHSS 5/4/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 5/16/2017 3:00:00 PM
HJR 20
HB234 Supporting Document Chapter 18.09 Health Care Commission Statute.pdf HHSS 4/25/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 4/27/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 5/4/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 234
HB234 Supporting Document-AHCC Annual Report 2014.pdf HHSS 4/25/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 4/27/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 5/4/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 234
HB234 Supporting Document-AHCC-Audit 2013.pdf HHSS 4/25/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 4/27/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 5/4/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 234
HB234 Supporting Document-AHCC-Final-Report-Audit 2017.pdf HHSS 4/25/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 4/27/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 5/4/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 234
HB 234 ver A 4.17.17.pdf HHSS 4/25/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 4/27/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 5/4/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 234
HB234 Sponsor Statement 4.17.17.pdf HHSS 4/25/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 4/27/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 5/4/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 234
HB234 Fiscal Note DHSS--DSS 4.25.17.pdf HHSS 4/25/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 4/27/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 5/4/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 234
HB234 Supporting Document-Support Letter 4.24.17.pdf HHSS 4/25/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 4/27/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 5/4/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 234
HB234 Supporting Document Office of the Governor_ Administrative Order 246.pdf HHSS 4/25/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 4/27/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 5/4/2017 3:00:00 PM
HB 234
HB 236 ver A.PDF HHSS 4/25/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 4/27/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 5/4/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 9/28/2017 2:00:00 PM
HHSS 2/6/2018 3:00:00 PM
HB 236
HB236 Sponsor Statement.pdf HHSS 4/25/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 4/27/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 5/4/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 2/6/2018 3:00:00 PM
HB 236
HB236 Supporting Documents AARP Letter Support.pdf HHSS 4/25/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 4/27/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 5/4/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 9/28/2017 2:00:00 PM
HHSS 2/6/2018 3:00:00 PM
HB 236
HB236 Supporting Documents Alaska Commission on Aging.pdf HHSS 4/25/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 4/27/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 5/4/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 9/28/2017 2:00:00 PM
HHSS 2/6/2018 3:00:00 PM
HB 236
HB236 Supporting Documents Arneson Support Letter.pdf HHSS 4/25/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 4/27/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 5/4/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 9/28/2017 2:00:00 PM
HHSS 2/6/2018 3:00:00 PM
HB 236
HB236 Supporting Documents Senior Benefits Program Fact Sheet.PDF HHSS 4/25/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 4/27/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 5/4/2017 3:00:00 PM
HHSS 2/6/2018 3:00:00 PM
HB 236