Legislature(2011 - 2012)BUTROVICH 205

02/02/2011 01:30 PM HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES

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Audio Topic
01:32:41 PM Start
01:33:37 PM SB12
01:50:48 PM SB21
01:51:24 PM HB16
02:13:38 PM Presentation: Denali Family Services
02:30:58 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved SB 12 Out of Committee
Heard & Held
Moved HB 16 Out of Committee
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
Presentation: Denali Family Services - Little
Steps Preschool
          HB 16-EXTEND SENIOR BENEFITS PAYMENT PROGRAM                                                                      
SENATOR EGAN, acting  as Chair, announced the consideration  of HB                                                              
16. [The committee  was taking up HB 16 rather  than the companion                                                              
bill, SB 21, because HB 16 was farther in the process.]                                                                         
1:51:24 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MIKE HAWKER,  sponsor of  HB 16,  stated that  the                                                              
senior  benefits payment  program  is extremely  important. HB  16                                                              
extends the  program to June 30,  2015. As of December  2010 there                                                              
were 10,093 Alaskans  benefitting from the program;  their average                                                              
age was 75, and  the oldest was 105. He explained  that the Senior                                                              
Benefit  Program   provides  monthly  cash  assistance   to  state                                                              
residents  65 or  over  whose monthly  household  income does  not                                                              
exceed poverty level  by federal guidelines. He  said the payments                                                              
can either be $125,  $175, or $250 each month,  depending upon the                                                              
individual's income.                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE HAWKER  emphasized that HB  16 does not  change the                                                              
program parameters;  the  program is self-adjusting,  in  that the                                                              
federal  poverty guidelines  are  annually revised  by the  United                                                              
States government.  The bill  simply extends  the program  by four                                                              
years. He further  noted that the program costs  about $20 million                                                              
per year,  but the  Department of Health  and Social  Services has                                                              
the  ability to  reduce or  eliminate  benefits in  any year  that                                                              
funds are  not available.  Because of this,  he said,  the program                                                              
does not become viewed as an entitlement.                                                                                       
1:56:02 PM                                                                                                                    
MARIE  DARLIN, representing  the American  Association of  Retired                                                              
Persons (AARP),  Capital City Task  Force, spoke in support  of HB                                                              
16.  She said  we  want  our retirees  to  be  able to  remain  in                                                              
Alaska, and the senior benefit helps many of them do that.                                                                      
1:57:29 PM                                                                                                                    
DENISE DANIELLO,  Executive Director, Alaska Commission  on Aging,                                                              
Department  of  Health  and  Social  Services  (DHSS),  noted  the                                                              
benefits  of  the  program  both to  seniors  and  to  communities                                                              
throughout  the state.  There are  not a large  number of  seniors                                                              
who need  the program, but it  does provide assistance  to about 1                                                              
in 5  seniors in Alaska.  As a person  ages and spends  down their                                                              
assets,  their  resources  become  more limited,  so  the  program                                                              
becomes more important as they age.                                                                                             
1:58:59 PM                                                                                                                    
DIXIE HOOD,  representing herself,  said she  has lived  in Alaska                                                              
for 35  years, she is  77 years old, single,  and is asking  for a                                                              
change to HB 16.  She feels that the bill should  base eligibility                                                              
on  net income,  not gross.  Ms.  Hood stated  she struggles  each                                                              
month  to cover  living  expenses,  and that  her  main source  of                                                              
income is  her social security benefit;  she also rents  a room in                                                              
her home,  and her  net income is  approximately $9,000  per year.                                                              
But, she  explained,  the benefit  is based on  gross income.  She                                                              
emphasized  that  it  would make  a  big  change  for her  if  the                                                              
benefit was based on net income, rather than gross.                                                                             
2:05:03 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  DYSON  stated  he  would  appreciate  hearing  why  gross                                                              
income is used instead of net income.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE HAWKER  said the  program was looking  to establish                                                              
low-income  criteria  that  was objective  and  determinable,  and                                                              
that would  be annually adjusted.  For this reason,  he explained,                                                              
they use the  federal poverty guideline regulations,  which do use                                                              
annual  gross  income.  This  avoids  having  to  make  judgmental                                                              
determinations     about    qualification     or     discretionary                                                              
expenditures. He  further stated that  it would be  very difficult                                                              
to  throw the  open the  entire  program to  a  net income  basis.                                                              
Representative  Hawker  also  noted  that  here are  a  myriad  of                                                              
public service  programs available  to help  people in  Ms. Hood's                                                              
SENATOR  DYSON  stated,  if  we   changed  to  gross  income,  and                                                              
maintained  the  three  income  levels,  that  would  not  require                                                              
annual adjustments. It could be based on income tax returns.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HAWKER   responded  that  they  use   the  federal                                                              
poverty  guidelines  in  order to  prevent  the  legislature  from                                                              
having  to   make  these   determinations;  the  federal   poverty                                                              
guideline  is  used  for all  public  assistance  programs  across                                                              
Alaska as the measure of poverty.                                                                                               
SENATOR DYSON  again asked what  would be the problem  of changing                                                              
it from gross to net.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  HAWKER  replied  that  if the  Senator  wished  to                                                              
propose an amendment, he would consider it.                                                                                     
SENATOR DYSON  said that  he would not  propose an amendment  over                                                              
the Representative's objections.                                                                                                
2:10:31 PM                                                                                                                    
RON  KREHER,  Acting  Director,  Division  of  Public  Assistance,                                                              
Department  of Health and  Social Services,  noted that  generally                                                              
speaking,  all public  assistance  programs  have  a gross  income                                                              
test;  the gross  income  test is  an equitable  way  of making  a                                                              
determination of eligibility.                                                                                                   
2:12:22 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MEYER  moved  to  forward   HB  16  from  committee  with                                                              
individual  recommendations  and  attached fiscal  note(s).  There                                                              
being  no  objection, HB  16  moved  from  the Senate  Health  and                                                              
Social Services  Standing Committee.  [Companion bill, SB  21, was                                                              
held in committee.]                                                                                                             

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Bill.pdf SHSS 2/2/2011 1:30:00 PM
SB 12
SB12 Extending Terminatino Date of Board of Nursing
Sponsor Statement Rev 1-27-2011.pdf SHSS 2/2/2011 1:30:00 PM
SB 12
Sponsor Statement.docx SHSS 2/2/2011 1:30:00 PM
SB 21
Clip- Alaska Worst Retire.pdf SHSS 2/2/2011 1:30:00 PM
SB 21
SB 21 Letters of Support - Senior Benefit.pdf SHSS 2/2/2011 1:30:00 PM
SB 21
Fiscal Note.pdf SHSS 2/2/2011 1:30:00 PM
SB 12
Fiscal Note.pdf SHSS 2/2/2011 1:30:00 PM
SB 21
SB 21 Fiscal Note Back-Up.pdf SHSS 2/2/2011 1:30:00 PM
SB 21
Alaska Commission on Aging Support.pdf SHSS 2/2/2011 1:30:00 PM
HB 16
Alaska Food Coalition Support.pdf SHSS 2/2/2011 1:30:00 PM
HB 16
Denali Family Svcs & Little Steps PreSchool.docx SHSS 2/2/2011 1:30:00 PM
Little Steps - PowerPoint - Final.ppt SHSS 2/2/2011 1:30:00 PM
AARP Support Ltrs..pdf SHSS 2/2/2011 1:30:00 PM
HB 16
Background-Related Statutes.pdf SHSS 2/2/2011 1:30:00 PM
HB 16
Bill.pdf SHSS 2/2/2011 1:30:00 PM
HB 16
Fact Sheet-DHSS.pdf SHSS 2/2/2011 1:30:00 PM
HB 16
Fiscal Note backup chart DPA (2).pdf SHSS 2/2/2011 1:30:00 PM
HB 16
Fiscal Note-1-2-012611-DHS-Y.pdf SHSS 2/2/2011 1:30:00 PM
HB 16
Fiscal Note-2-2-013111-DHS-Y.pdf SHSS 2/2/2011 1:30:00 PM
HB 16
Public letters Support.pdf SHSS 2/2/2011 1:30:00 PM
HB 16
Sponsor Statement.pdf SHSS 2/2/2011 1:30:00 PM
HB 16