Legislature(2019 - 2020)BUTROVICH 205

04/08/2019 01:30 PM HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= SB 1 REPEAL CERTIFICATE OF NEED PROGRAM TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSSB 1(HSS) Out of Committee
*+ SB 58 REPEALING SENIOR BENEFITS PAYMENT PROGRAM TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit May Be Set> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
      SENATE HEALTH AND SOCIAL SERVICES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                    
                         April 8, 2019                                                                                          
                           1:30 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Senator David Wilson, Chair                                                                                                     
Senator John Coghill, Vice Chair                                                                                                
Senator Gary Stevens                                                                                                            
Senator Cathy Giessel                                                                                                           
Senator Tom Begich                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 1                                                                                                               
"An Act repealing the certificate of need program for health                                                                    
care facilities; making conforming amendments; and providing for                                                                
an effective date."                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     - MOVED CSSB 1(HSS) OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATE BILL NO. 58                                                                                                              
"An Act repealing the senior benefits payment program; and                                                                      
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SB   1                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: REPEAL CERTIFICATE OF NEED PROGRAM                                                                                 
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) WILSON                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
01/16/19       (S)       PREFILE RELEASED 1/7/19                                                                                
01/16/19       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/16/19       (S)       HSS, FIN                                                                                               
03/27/19       (S)       HSS AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
03/27/19       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/27/19       (S)       MINUTE(HSS)                                                                                            
03/29/19       (S)       HSS AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
03/29/19       (S)       -- MEETING CANCELED --                                                                                 
04/01/19       (S)       HSS AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/01/19       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
04/01/19       (S)       MINUTE(HSS)                                                                                            
04/08/19       (S)       HSS AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SB  58                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: REPEALING SENIOR BENEFITS PAYMENT PROGRAM                                                                          
SPONSOR(s): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
02/13/19       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/13/19       (S)       HSS, FIN                                                                                               
04/08/19       (S)       HSS AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
GARY ZEPP, Staff                                                                                                                
Senator David Wilson                                                                                                            
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Explained the amendment to SB 1.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SHAWNDA O'BRIEN, Director                                                                                                       
Division of Public Assistance                                                                                                   
Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS)                                                                                 
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Introduced SB 58 on behalf of the                                                                         
administration.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
LORILYN SWANSON, representing self                                                                                              
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 58.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
VIKKI JO KENNEDY, representing self                                                                                             
Kodiak, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 58.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
BOB HARRISON, representing self                                                                                                 
Nikiski, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 58.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CHARLES MCKEE, representing self                                                                                                
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: During the hearing on SB 58, spoke about a                                                                
court case.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JAVEN OSE, representing self                                                                                                    
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 58.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
DJ BLATCHFORD, representing self                                                                                                
Soldotna, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 58.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
DELICE CALCOTE, representing self                                                                                               
Sutton, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 58.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
KEN HELANDER, Alaska Director of Advocacy                                                                                       
AARP                                                                                                                            
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 58.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
JIM HORNADAY, representing self                                                                                                 
Homer, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 58.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
ART GRISWOLD, representing self                                                                                                 
Delta Junction, Alaska                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 58.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
GINGER FORTIN, representing self                                                                                                
Ketchikan, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 58.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
ROSEMARY RUOFF, representing self                                                                                               
Wrangell, Alaska                                                                                                                
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 58.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
ALBERT NINNGEULOOK, representing self                                                                                           
Shishmaref, Alaska                                                                                                              
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 58.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
DAVID BLACKETER, Member                                                                                                         
Alaska Commission on Aging                                                                                                      
Kodiak, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 58.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
JONATHAN STRONG, Island Cove Director                                                                                           
Senior Citizens of Kodiak, Inc.                                                                                                 
Kodiak, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 58.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
JON ZASADA, Policy Integration Director                                                                                         
Alaska Primary Care Association                                                                                                 
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 58.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
JAYNE ANDREEN, Volunteer Advocate                                                                                               
AARP                                                                                                                            
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 58.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
DENISE DANIELLO, Executive Director                                                                                             
Alaska Commission on Aging                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT: Juneau, Alaska Opposed SB 58.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
LAURA BONNER, representing self                                                                                                 
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 58.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
WILLIAM HARRINGTON, representing self                                                                                           
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 58.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MARIANNE BURKE, representing self                                                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 58.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
GARY MCDONALD, representing self                                                                                                
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 58.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
HERMAN MORGAN, representing self                                                                                                
Aniak, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 58.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
ELIZABETH MOE, representing self                                                                                                
Houston, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 58.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
LARRY SLONE, representing self                                                                                                  
Homer, Alaska                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SB 58.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                              
1:30:58 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR DAVID WILSON called the Senate Health and Social Services                                                               
Standing Committee meeting to order at 1:30 p.m. Present at the                                                                 
call to order were Senators Stevens, Coghill, Giessel, Begich,                                                                  
and Chair Wilson.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
           SB   1-REPEAL CERTIFICATE OF NEED PROGRAM                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:31:16 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON announced  the consideration of SB 1.  He noted that                                                               
the committee heard  an overview of the bill March  27, adopted a                                                               
work draft committee substitute  (CS), and took invited testimony                                                               
from subject matter experts. On  April 1 the committee heard from                                                               
additional subject matter experts, and took public testimony.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:31:42 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON offered Amendment 1.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
                                             31-LS0001\M.1                                                                      
                                             Marx                                                                               
                                             4/2/19                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
                          AMENDMENT 1                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
    OFFERED IN THE SENATE                  BY SENATOR WILSON                                                                    
     TO: CSSB1 ( ), Draft Version "M"                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Page 5, following line 8:                                                                                                  
          Insert new bill sections to read:                                                                                     
         "* Sec. 8. The uncodified law of the State of Alaska is                                                              
     amended by adding a new section to read:                                                                                   
          TRANSITION: REGULATIONS. The Department of Health and                                                                 
     Social   Services  may   adopt   regulations  necessary   to                                                               
     implement  the changes  made by  this  Act. The  regulations                                                               
     take effect  under AS 44.62 (Administrative  Procedure Act),                                                               
     but not before the effective date of this Act.                                                                             
         * Sec. 9. Section 8 of this Act takes effect immediately                                                           
     under AS 01.10.070(c)."                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     Renumber the following bill section accordingly.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Page 5, line 9:                                                                                                            
          Delete "This"                                                                                                         
          Insert "Except as provided in sec. 9 of this Act,                                                                     
         this"                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:31:51 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL moved to adopt Amendment 1.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:31:55 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON objected for purposes of discussion.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:32:05 PM                                                                                                                    
GARY   ZEPP,   Staff,   Senator  David   Wilson,   Alaska   State                                                               
Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, said  that Senator Begich brought up                                                               
a  good point  for clarification:  if SB  1 in  its current  form                                                               
passed  the legislature,  what would  happen to  the regulations.                                                               
This amendment clarifies that. Amendment  M.1 is a transition for                                                               
regulations. It  allows and encourages  the Department  of Health                                                               
and  Social Services  (DHSS) to  adopt  regulations necessary  to                                                               
implement  the changes  in SB  1, so  that on  July 1,  2024, the                                                               
regulations would be in place and ready to be effective.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WILSON said  the  committee would  get of  a  copy of  the                                                               
Legislative Legal opinion to the committee.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:33:26 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BEGICH  clarified that  if  the  legislature did  repeal                                                               
Certificate of Need, but they  have regulations enacted that deal                                                               
with Certificate of Need issues,  those regulations will still be                                                               
in effect even though the statute itself has been removed.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. ZEPP replied  that the advice from Legislative  Legal is that                                                               
that is correct.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WILSON  removed  his objection.  There  being  no  further                                                               
objection, Amendment 1, M.1, was adopted.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WILSON asked  if there  were  any final  questions on  the                                                               
bill.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BEGICH said  he  asked Mr.  Zepp  for information  about                                                               
rural  hospitals closures  in  North Dakota  and  Idaho when  the                                                               
committee  last met.  Mr. Zepp  told him  that to  his knowledge,                                                               
that since Certificate  of Need programs were  abolished in those                                                               
states, there  have been no  rural hospital closures.  He thanked                                                               
Mr. Zepp for giving him the information.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:35:17 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON solicited a motion.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:35:20 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COGHILL  moved  CSSB  1,  Version  M  as  amended,  from                                                               
committee  with   individual  recommendations   and  accompanying                                                               
fiscal notes.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:35:32 PM                                                                                                                    
the  Senate Health  and Social  Services Standing  Committee with                                                               
the understanding  that Legislative  Legal is authorized  to make                                                               
any necessary technical and/or conforming adjustments.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:35:46 PM                                                                                                                    
At ease                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
        SB  58-REPEALING SENIOR BENEFITS PAYMENT PROGRAM                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:37:20 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON announced  the consideration of SB  58. He announced                                                               
his intention  to have an  overview of  the bill and  a sectional                                                               
analysis and take public testimony.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:37:58 PM                                                                                                                    
SHAWNDA  O'Brien,   Director,  Division  of   Public  Assistance,                                                               
Department of Health and Social  Services (DHSS), Juneau, Alaska,                                                               
said  the  two  fiscal  notes  attached  to  the  bill  highlight                                                               
reductions  to the  Senior Benefits  Payment Program  as well  as                                                               
reductions  to  staffing levels  for  the  administration of  the                                                               
program. The  public assistance field  services component  in the                                                               
fiscal  note  represents  the administrative  costs  to  run  the                                                               
program.  These  are eligibility  staff  who  do the  eligibility                                                               
determinations  and  case  reviews for  the  program  recipients.                                                               
There are  some minimal costs  for printing warrants  and sending                                                               
out  notifications.  The  other   fiscal  note  is  the  benefits                                                               
themselves.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON asked for the reasoning behind the bill.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MS.  O'BRIEN  replied  that the  governor's  budget  proposed  to                                                               
reduce or eliminate the program  entirely. The governor's amended                                                               
budget  has a  decrement to  the funding  sources for  the senior                                                               
benefits.  In order  to  implement that  reduction,  the bill  is                                                               
needed to eliminate the program from statute.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:39:42 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS  said he  needs a better  explanation of  who the                                                               
bill impacts and what it does to people.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. O'BRIEN  replied that the committee  packets have information                                                               
about the  program, including some demographic  information about                                                               
who is  being served  by which  payment category.  The high-level                                                               
overview has facts about how  the program is administered, who it                                                               
serves,  criteria eligibility,  historical information  since the                                                               
program's  inception  in 1972,  and  where  the population  being                                                               
served  resides.  Page   3  of  the  overview   shows  where  the                                                               
recipients are statewide as of December 2018.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STEVENS said  that the public needs  a fuller explanation                                                               
of the impact.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. O'BRIEN  said, that  to address that,  the benefit  tiers are                                                               
$76, $[175], and $250 a month.  The program is serving just under                                                               
12,000.  The funding  has  been insufficient  to  fully fund  all                                                               
three tiers.  This year the  lowest payment  tier is $76  a month                                                               
because of  insufficient funding.  There are several  reasons for                                                               
that. As they  review eligibility each year and  the criteria for                                                               
that  eligibility  changes,  different   income  levels  will  be                                                               
adjusted  and  people go  into  other  payment categories,  which                                                               
bumps those costs up annually.  They are not seeing a significant                                                               
growth in the  number of people eligible for the  program. It has                                                               
stayed consistent over the years, but  they are seeing a bit more                                                               
cost  in  the  higher  payment categories  of  the  program.  One                                                               
handout shows how  many recipients are in  each payment category.                                                               
It also gives some demographics of counts by age and gender.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. O'BRIEN said  the majority of the recipients  are female. The                                                               
program serves people 65 and  older; the oldest recipient is over                                                               
the  age  of 85.  To  be  eligible  for  the program,  there  are                                                               
different  categories of  income.  Savings are  not counted,  but                                                               
other assets  may be counted.  The income levels  change annually                                                               
based on  federal poverty levels.  Payments are not  available to                                                               
seniors living in any of  these institutions: prison or jail, the                                                               
Alaskan Pioneer Home,  Veterans Home, nursing home,  or a private                                                               
institution for mental disease.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:44:28 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL said  this came out of a debate  on the longevity                                                               
bonus  some time  ago. The  compromise  was to  make the  program                                                               
needs-based. The  longevity bonus  was based  on time  in Alaska.                                                               
Part of  the argument was  they had adult public  assistance with                                                               
different criteria from the Senor  Benefits Program. He asked how                                                               
many are receiving both and what would be the impact on them.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. O'BRIEN  replied that they  do have populations  being served                                                               
by  multiple  programs.  Most   commonly,  recipients  of  senior                                                               
benefits,  in some  cases,  would be  eligible  for adult  public                                                               
assistance  and the  Supplemental  Nutrition Assistance  Program,                                                               
also  known  as  food  stamps.  Some  receive  energy  assistance                                                               
benefits. Some  may receive  supplemental security  income. About                                                               
3,000 people, as of December  2018, are receiving senior benefits                                                               
only.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COGHILL  asked if  that means  around 10,000  are getting                                                               
other benefits.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. O'BRIEN said it would be around 8,000 to 9,000.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BEGICH said  he is troubled. The  service array available                                                               
for  seniors may  alleviate concerns  about getting  rid of  this                                                               
program. She  mentioned that the  number of people in  the higher                                                               
tiers, the  most in need,  has gone  up. They are  talking about,                                                               
over time,  more people slipping  into the  higher-needs program,                                                               
but  the idea  is to  eliminate  the program.  For him,  it is  a                                                               
philosophical issue. Senator von  Imhoff in the Finance Committee                                                               
said that it was  not a question of the money  available, it is a                                                               
question of priorities. He asked  if the department's priority is                                                               
that this program be cut.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS.  O'BRIEN  replied that  the  department  reviewed areas  that                                                               
received general funds  that are not tied to  federal dollars, so                                                               
they have  more flexibility in  terms of the approvals  needed to                                                               
implement reductions.  Since this  program is  state-funded only,                                                               
it  gets  looked at  more  closely,  even  though the  impact  is                                                               
significant.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BEGICH said that she  should understand his reluctance to                                                               
support this  kind of bill.  This is  the wrong tack  for dealing                                                               
with  the  state's  fiscal  responsibility  by  constitution  and                                                               
statute.  The  longevity bonus  program  existed  for many  years                                                               
prior  to  its  repeal  and  replacement  in  2003  by  the  very                                                               
compromise  that  Senator Coghill  described.  For  the last  two                                                               
years,  the  committee  has  listened to  so  much  testimony  in                                                               
support of the  senior benefits program and the impact  it has on                                                               
lives. They have rejected the  increases to the program that have                                                               
been requested. He will not  support this bill or this particular                                                               
effort  by  the  administration  to solve  the  perceived  fiscal                                                               
crisis. He will be adamantly opposed to this.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR COGHILL said that Senator  Begich brings up a good point.                                                               
They have  to be careful. He  asked if they reduce  this, knowing                                                               
that all  these people  are on  some kind  of fixed  income, will                                                               
this  reduction  change their  eligibility  in  other arenas.  He                                                               
asked if  there is some way  of alleviating those who  need it or                                                               
is this the last stop.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS.  O'BRIEN  replied  that by  eliminating  this  program,  some                                                               
recipients  may  be  eligible for  increased  benefits  for  food                                                               
stamps  or  adult  public  assistance.  They  will  look  at  the                                                               
eligibility for the  entire population that they  are serving. If                                                               
the program is eliminated July  1, they will be doing eligibility                                                               
redeterminations  for  those  receiving  food  stamps  or  public                                                               
assistance to adjust  as necessary. That is an  increased body of                                                               
work that they are preparing staff for now.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  COGHILL said  that a  couple  of things  attract him  to                                                               
this. One is that they will  need fewer state workers. On one end                                                               
of  the  building  they  are  writing  checks  for  adult  public                                                               
assistance and on the other end  they are writing checks to this.                                                               
That was his  original complaint about this whole  thing to begin                                                               
with. They  all have on their  minds not to harm  people who live                                                               
in  an  escalating health  care  environment  and declining  cash                                                               
capacity. It is important not to  leave them high and dry, but if                                                               
they can  take care of them  with less government, this  might be                                                               
okay.  He will  be listening  to  public testimony  on that,  but                                                               
maybe  they  can  figure  this  out  for  those  who  have  other                                                               
benefits.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  WILSON  asked  if the  administration  looked  at  Senator                                                               
Coghill's  idea of  combining senior  payments with  adult public                                                               
assistance program for cost savings.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. O'BRIEN clarified  that the chair is stating  that instead of                                                               
having distinct  programs, they would  have one program  to serve                                                               
the same  population in  both areas  or are  they looking  at the                                                               
eligibility work itself.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON replied  that as a subset of a  program within adult                                                               
public  assistance,  a senior  could  quality  for an  additional                                                               
benefit.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS.  O'BRIEN  replied  that  the  purpose  of  the  adult  public                                                               
assistance  program  is  to   satisfy  federal  requirements  for                                                               
serving  the  aged,  blind,  and disabled.  It  has  a  different                                                               
demographic need  than the senior  benefits program. Some  of the                                                               
same  population is  being served  through both  programs by  the                                                               
nature of  some of  the criteria. The  aged, blind,  and disabled                                                               
program   is    administered   through   the    Social   Security                                                               
Administration and  is also  used to  satisfy the  maintenance of                                                               
effort  requirement  to  receive  Medicaid  funding.  The  senior                                                               
benefits program has a distinctly  different purpose, though some                                                               
people  are served  by both.  For it  to become  a subset  of the                                                               
adult  public assistance  program would  require partnering  with                                                               
the Social  Security Administration  to find out  how or  if they                                                               
could expand on the rules  and regulations around that program to                                                               
include another  tier of recipients.  She is not  familiar enough                                                               
with that process to answer that question.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON responded, "Plausible."                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. O'BRIEN said it is always worth asking.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:55:32 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEVENS  said he did  remember the longevity  bonus issue                                                               
and  the turmoil  it  caused the  legislature.  Everyone over  65                                                               
received the longevity  bonus, regardless of income.  The wife of                                                               
a bank  president was angry  with him  for taking that  away from                                                               
her. It was hard for the  legislature to deal with. Everyone over                                                               
65 was  angry with them.  Fewer people  will be angry  with this,                                                               
but  they will  be upset.  It  was hard  to go  to a  needs-based                                                               
program. It probably  made sense. Senator Coghill  brought up the                                                               
question of  whether there are  other programs that  other people                                                               
will be eligible for if they  eliminate this. He asked if a study                                                               
is being done so they will know the real implications.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. O'BRIEN replied that they are  preparing to do that work now.                                                               
They know the population that  already has crossover. Those cases                                                               
will be easy  to look at to do that  determination. For the 3,000                                                               
recipients  who  are only  receiving  the  senior payments,  they                                                               
would  need  to  apply  for   other  programs  to  be  determined                                                               
eligible. At  the time they  would send out notifications  to let                                                               
the entire recipient pool know the  program is no longer going to                                                               
be in the budget, they  would notify everyone. If recipients want                                                               
to  be considered  for other  programs, they  would be  looked at                                                               
that time.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR STEVENS said that what she  is saying is that it would be                                                               
difficult to  predict that at this  moment. The only way  to know                                                               
is to remove the program and see what the result is.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS.  O'BRIEN  answered  for   the  population  already  receiving                                                               
benefits under  the other two  programs, they  will automatically                                                               
look  at  their  eligibility  to  do  any  adjustments  to  their                                                               
benefits.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BEGICH  asked  that  when  Ms.  O'Brien  is  doing  that                                                               
research,  if she  could  examine  the impacts  of  all the  cuts                                                               
affecting  the senior  population instead  of isolated  looks. It                                                               
appears to  him, that  they are  the most  vulnerable populations                                                               
that will be impacted by multiple  cuts. They should know that if                                                               
they are going  to make decisions about whether  to take services                                                               
away from somebody.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS.  O'BRIEN  replied that  they  have  some examples  they  have                                                               
prepared  at  a very  high  level.  Eligibility determination  is                                                               
complex  and  each individual  situation  will  have a  different                                                               
determination. They  do have  some examples  they can  share with                                                               
the committee of what each reduction  in the budget would do to a                                                               
person receiving all the benefits and  for people who are only on                                                               
one or two of the programs.  They wanted to know what that impact                                                               
would be and  to prepare for the  work that would be  coming as a                                                               
result.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BEGICH  asked  if  they  would look  at  the  impact  of                                                               
proposed Medicaid cuts on these populations.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  O'BRIEN  answered  that  they  are  including  the  Medicaid                                                               
reductions.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON asked if there is  a hold harmless clause for senior                                                               
benefits.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. O'BRIEN  asked if he  were speaking about the  permanent fund                                                               
dividend hold harmless provisions.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WILSON  replied something  similar to  that for  the Senior                                                               
Benefits Payment Program.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. O'BRIEN answered there is not.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:00:42 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON opened public testimony.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:01:08 PM                                                                                                                    
LORILYN SWANSON,  representing self,  Juneau, Alaska,  opposed SB                                                               
58.  She  said  she  has managed  Fireweed  Place,  an  apartment                                                               
building  for seniors,  for 25  years. She  served on  the Alaska                                                               
medical  care advisory  committee  and the  Juneau Commission  on                                                               
Aging. She asked  the committee to allow the  program to continue                                                               
and to  make sure  it is  fully funded  in the  operating budget.                                                               
Through  senior  advocacy  groups,  of which  she  was  part  of,                                                               
working  with the  legislature, the  initial senior  care program                                                               
was established  in response to  Governor Murkowski's cut  to the                                                               
longevity  bonus in  2003, which  supported all  Alaskans 65  and                                                               
older  with a  payment of  $250  a month.  At that  time, it  was                                                               
recognized that  there was  an absolute  need to  offer financial                                                               
support for a  portion of the senior population.  That basic need                                                               
has continued.  State support has  evolved over the years  to the                                                               
three tiers.  The Senior Benefits  Program is designed  to assist                                                               
those 65 and  older under who fall under the  federal poverty law                                                               
for income and  who are among the most vulnerable  seniors in the                                                               
state.  She asked  them  to  please put  a  stop  to the  growing                                                               
anxiety  overtaking  the  state. Alaska  senior  citizens,  their                                                               
constituents,  depend on  this program  for basic  essentials and                                                               
are  fearful  a  portion  of their  financial  security  will  be                                                               
eliminated.  Seniors in  Tier 1  will take  a 26  percent cut  in                                                               
income if the program is cut.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:04:09 PM                                                                                                                    
VIKKI JO  KENNEDY, representing self, Kodiak,  Alaska, opposed SB                                                               
58. She  said this is  going to impact a  lot of seniors.  She is                                                               
going to be  one of those seniors this year.  She currently lives                                                               
on $279 a month.  By the grace of God, she  has HUD housing. This                                                               
will affect  the most vulnerable  people there are.  Perhaps they                                                               
could skinny it down to an on-needed basis.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:05:49 PM                                                                                                                    
BOB HARRISON, representing self,  Nikiski, Alaska, opposed SB 58.                                                               
He said  he is a Nikiski  senior on a fixed  income receiving the                                                               
benefits of  this program.  Many need it  more than  him. Seniors                                                               
are the  most vulnerable Alaskans  to a reduction of  income. The                                                               
cost of  living goes up, income  stays static or goes  down. When                                                               
the  longevity bonus  was eliminated,  it  was his  understanding                                                               
that benefits  would continue, just  restructured. Seniors  are a                                                               
valuable  resource  to  their  community.  They  volunteer.  Find                                                               
another way to take care of cuts and vote no on SB 58.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:07:38 PM                                                                                                                    
CHARLES MCKEE, representing self,  Anchorage, Alaska, spoke about                                                               
a court case and fraud.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:10:27 PM                                                                                                                    
JAVEN OSE,  representing self, Anchorage, Alaska,  opposed SB 58.                                                               
He said  so they want  to take his money  away. This will  be the                                                               
second  time. They  want  to  take his  permanent  fund, etc.  He                                                               
arrived  in 1956  in the  territorial days.  He worked  his whole                                                               
life for  small change.  He gets about  $12,000 income  in Social                                                               
Security. The committee members make that in one month.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:13:16 PM                                                                                                                    
DJ BLATCHFORD,  representing self,  Soldotna, Alaska,  opposed SB                                                               
58. She said they have worked  all their lives. She has worked up                                                               
to four  jobs at one  time while  raising 9 children.  The people                                                               
have  great  needs.   The  elders  set  the   trail.  They  would                                                               
appreciate the crumbs they are trying to deny them.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:15:03 PM                                                                                                                    
DELICE  CALCOTE, representing  self, Sutton,  Alaska, opposed  SB                                                               
58.  She said  she worked  for  the tribes  of Alaska.  A lot  of                                                               
elders do  not get help. She  asked how they get  information out                                                               
about the  program. She had  not received any  notification about                                                               
it. That is their account. Poverty is  a sin. It is wrong to keep                                                               
people in poverty. They should listen to the people.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:17:00 PM                                                                                                                    
KEN  HELANDER,  Alaska  Director of  Advocacy,  AARP,  Anchorage,                                                               
Alaska,  opposed  SB 58.  He  said  two  summers ago  the  Senior                                                               
Benefits  Program  was  up for  reauthorization.  Representatives                                                               
Spohnholz and  Kawasaki held an  informal listening  session. For                                                               
three hours,  more than 50 people  called from every part  of the                                                               
state about what the program meant  to them. This money, as small                                                               
an amount  as it is,  helps the recipients to  live independently                                                               
with  purpose,  to maintain  their  own  health,  and to  make  a                                                               
difference in  the community.  One woman called  to say  that her                                                               
$76 a  month allowed  her to  keep her car  running. She  was the                                                               
only  one in  her circle  of  friends who  still had  a car.  She                                                               
helped friends and  neighbors who needed to get to  the doctor or                                                               
grocery  store.  She  was  the   transportation  system  for  her                                                               
individual community. If her car  were to become inoperable, many                                                               
would have  lost transportation.  Others told similar  stories of                                                               
working to be of help to others.  This is not about a handout. It                                                               
is about an investment to  help prevent elderly Alaskans to avoid                                                               
being poor in spirit. They are  more expensive if they can't live                                                               
on their own.  The Senior Benefits Program is  an investment with                                                               
great return. The cost of losing it would be so much greater.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:19:45 PM                                                                                                                    
JIM HORNADAY,  representing self,  Homer, Alaska, opposed  SB 58.                                                               
He said  these are  the neediest  people. If they  cut it  out, a                                                               
number  of people  will miss  meals. He  also asked  them to  not                                                               
close schools and college campuses  and to consider revenues, not                                                               
just cutting.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:20:32 PM                                                                                                                    
ART GRISWOLD, representing self,  Delta Junction, Alaska, opposed                                                               
SB 58. He  said he will be 85  in ten days. He and  his wife were                                                               
active in  the senior  housing program there.  He and  wife bring                                                               
food boxes  to seniors. They know  the needs of seniors.  If they                                                               
cut this program  it is not just a few  dollars they are cutting.                                                               
The seniors  depend on  that to  survive. A  number of  people in                                                               
senior housing could  not afford to stay in  senior housing. They                                                               
need the money to fulfill their needs.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:21:45 PM                                                                                                                    
GINGER FORTIN,  representing self, Ketchikan, Alaska,  opposed SB                                                               
58. She said  that she belongs to group of  people with traumatic                                                               
brain injuries, most  of whom are unable to go  out and work. She                                                               
was  testifying for  them. Most  are  seniors who  depend on  the                                                               
Senior Benefits Program.  She asked why the  governor was cutting                                                               
benefits from  the neediest. They are  unable to go out  and work                                                               
and they need this program.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:22:36 PM                                                                                                                    
ROSEMARY RUOFF,  representing self, Wrangell, Alaska,  opposed SB                                                               
58. She  said that the  legislators need to understand  that they                                                               
are younger  and not walking  in the  same shoes as  older folks.                                                               
The  legislators cannot  feel  what old  folk  are feeling.  They                                                               
receive  a salary  and live  on the  fat of  the land.  There are                                                               
those who  do not. She  speaks from personal experience.  She can                                                               
tell them  that when someone gets  gray hair and wrinkles  no one                                                               
wants that person  for employment. It is so  difficult to stretch                                                               
a dollar  each month. Inflation is  there like a roaring  lion. A                                                               
dollar buys  very little and  medication is expensive.  The money                                                               
from the Senior Benefits Program  is not only appreciated, but it                                                               
is vitally  important. She asked  why they would take  money from                                                               
people who vitally need it.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
2:24:49 PM                                                                                                                    
ALBERT  NINNGEULOOK,   representing  self,   Shishmaref,  Alaska,                                                               
opposed SB  58. He said he  is also testifying for  many seniors.                                                               
Many seniors in  Alaska pioneered and helped Alaska  grow, so the                                                               
governor would  come to appreciate the  sacrifices and dedication                                                               
that even his own grandfather  and father-in-law participated in.                                                               
The state honors its elders and  seniors who deserve to be helped                                                               
financially. Terminating  senior payments  takes money  away from                                                               
those  who depend  on  the  program to  survive  in their  golden                                                               
years. Living  in Alaska,  especially in  Shishmaref, is  hard. A                                                               
loaf  of bread  is about  $4  a loaf  and  heating fuel  is $5  a                                                               
gallon. The Senior  Benefits Program is a big help  to seniors in                                                               
villages and  throughout rural Alaska.  He hopes  the legislature                                                               
and governor will come to  understand that the program is needed.                                                               
He referred to  the testimony that seniors could  be eligible for                                                               
other  programs  and asked  how  food  stamp recipients  can  buy                                                               
medicine  because  he  knows  many  seniors who  use  it  to  buy                                                               
medicine.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:27:29 PM                                                                                                                    
DAVID  BLACKETER, Member,  Alaska  Commission  on Aging,  Kodiak,                                                               
Alaska, opposed  SB 58. He  said he and his  wife each get  $76 a                                                               
month. That was  reduced from $125. His rent is  due the first of                                                               
the  month and  he  receives  Social Security  the  third of  the                                                               
month. There is  a penalty if the landlord does  not get the rent                                                               
on time, so they  use their money to pay the rent  on time. It is                                                               
also for emergencies  like car repairs. He has  been requested by                                                               
the chair on the Commission on Aging  to ask them to say no to SB                                                               
58. He  is amazed that  last year the  legislature wholeheartedly                                                               
passed  HB 236,  which extended  senior benefits  program by  six                                                               
years and  restored the tier he  is in. He finds  it strange that                                                               
they want to take it away now.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:29:49 PM                                                                                                                    
JONATHAN  STRONG,  Island  Cove   Director,  Senior  Citizens  of                                                               
Kodiak, Inc.,  Kodiak, Alaska, opposed SB  58. He said he  is the                                                               
program director  for adult day and  day rehabilitation programs.                                                               
He recounted  a story  about a  person who  had been  referred to                                                               
them  who  panhandled and  shoplifted  to  meet basic  needs.  He                                                               
helped that  person apply  for senior  benefits once  that person                                                               
turned 65. He  received the top tier payment,  which changed this                                                               
person's  life  dramatically. This  person  was  on adult  public                                                               
assistance, which was  $1 a month, but did not  receive SNAP food                                                               
assistance. The senior program gave  this person a better quality                                                               
of life.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:31:19 PM                                                                                                                    
JON  ZASADA, Policy  Integration  Director,  Alaska Primary  Care                                                               
Association,  Anchorage,  Alaska,  opposed  SB 58.  He  said  the                                                               
health centers his organization  represents oppose elimination of                                                               
the Senior Benefits  Program. They want to focus on  how the bill                                                               
would  affect  the social  determinants  of  health of  patients.                                                               
Social determinants of health are  the conditions in which people                                                               
are born  live, grow,  and age  and include  financial resources,                                                               
food security, and access to  affordable housing. While modest in                                                               
size,  the Senior  Benefits Program  provides basic  income. They                                                               
fear that if the program is  cut, seniors who use the benefit for                                                               
medicine  and other  health expenditures  for chronic  conditions                                                               
will  end  up in  emergency  rooms  and higher  acuity  emergency                                                               
centers,  which will  raise the  cost  of care  and reduce  their                                                               
health outcomes. They  are very fearful about  the elimination of                                                               
the program.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:33:19 PM                                                                                                                    
JAYNE ANDREEN, Volunteer Advocate,  AARP, Juneau, Alaska, opposed                                                               
SB 58.  She said as  people age, they  go through a  continuum of                                                               
possible care  in living situations.  The most cost  effective is                                                               
for people  to live independently  in their own homes.  As people                                                               
age,   sometimes  they   have  to   move  into   the  higher-cost                                                               
categories. One  thing that is  key to recognize with  the Senior                                                               
Benefits Program is that it allows  people at the lowest level of                                                               
income  to  stay  independent.  If   they  are  looking  at  cost                                                               
effectiveness, keep the Senior Benefits  Program. They have heard                                                               
a lot of  stories over the last  two years as they  looked at the                                                               
sunset  legislation that  was due  to expire  last Juneau.  It is                                                               
painful  to  be  back  here reiterating  the  importance  of  the                                                               
program, which impacts the most vulnerable of the population.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:35:03 PM                                                                                                                    
DENISE DANIELLO, Executive Director,  Alaska Commission on Aging,                                                               
Juneau,  Alaska,  opposed  SB  58.   She  said  that  the  Alaska                                                               
Commission on Aging reflects the view  of its members, not of the                                                               
administration.  They  have  advocated for  the  Senior  Benefits                                                               
Program  since its  inception in  2007. Financial  security is  a                                                               
worry among  older people.  The last senior  survey done  in 2018                                                               
shows  that  financial,  economic  security is  the  second  most                                                               
important issue  for seniors in  Alaska, behind access  to health                                                               
care. The program  is good public policy. It  puts money directly                                                               
in the  hands of seniors  who know best how  to use the  money to                                                               
improve their health  and welfare. Statewide, about  one in eight                                                               
seniors participate in the program.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:37:50 PM                                                                                                                    
LAURA BONNER,  representing self,  Anchorage, Alaska,  opposed SB                                                               
58. She  said she  is retired  and has been  fortunate not  to be                                                               
eligible  for the  program, even  though she  is old  enough. The                                                               
repeal of the  Senior Benefits Program will  cause the vulnerable                                                               
to fall further  into poverty. Many are women who  worked in low-                                                               
paying jobs or left employment to  care for others. She asked the                                                               
committee  members  if  they  could   live  on  $1,000  a  month,                                                               
especially with  a chronic condition.  She asked what  they would                                                               
choose  to  pay  for--medicine, rent,  heat,  transportation,  or                                                               
food. Malnutrition  is all  too common  in the  senior population                                                               
anyway. It is  unconscionable to eliminate this  program, but not                                                               
eliminate oil tax credits for  the wealthiest corporations in the                                                               
world. There  has been little  or no analysis  on how SB  58 will                                                               
impact those who need the  benefit. She heard the companion bill,                                                               
HB 60, presented in the House.  The presenters said it was easier                                                               
to cut  this program than other  programs. SB 58 hurts  those who                                                               
need the benefits and it is not good for Alaskans.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:39:57 PM                                                                                                                    
WILLIAM   HARRINGTON,  representing   self,  Anchorage,   Alaska,                                                               
opposed SB  58. He said  he is 70 years  old and here  before the                                                               
pipeline boomers.  For a  government so rich  and foolish  in its                                                               
spending (grain silos, etc.) to stomp  on the ability of the most                                                               
vulnerable to  live healthy  and independently  is reprehensible.                                                               
He  doesn't  qualify   for  this  benefit,  but   it  is  morally                                                               
reprehensive to abandon the elderly population.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:40:58 PM                                                                                                                    
MARIANNE BURKE, representing self,  Anchorage, Alaska, opposed SB                                                               
58. She said that her father  came to them with hardly any Social                                                               
Security and  severe dementia.  The $250 a  month helped  them to                                                               
take care  of him with food,  medication, and clothes. He  is now                                                               
in  assisted care  and  they use  the money  for  his care.  They                                                               
couldn't get him on Medicaid for  a year because he was deemed to                                                               
have  too many  assets,  even though  they  really weren't  worth                                                               
anything. The Senior Benefit Program cut through all that.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
2:43:07 PM                                                                                                                    
GARY MCDONALD,  representing self, Anchorage, Alaska,  opposed SB                                                               
58. He said  he will be 65  next year and asked them  not to pick                                                               
on senior citizens.  He suggested they go after the  fraud in the                                                               
food  stamp  program  and  leave senior  citizens  alone.  It  is                                                               
appalling that they have to have these type of call-ins.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:44:21 PM                                                                                                                    
HERMAN MORGAN,  representing self, Aniak, Alaska,  opposed SB 58.                                                               
He said he is 65 years old. This  is going to hit people so hard.                                                               
The same could be said  for taking away people's permanent funds.                                                               
They are taking  away from the poorest people. He  asked them not                                                               
to cut  senior benefits  and the permanent  fund for  the people.                                                               
The House  is using  the former governor's  budget. They  say the                                                               
Senate is  doing that also.  Two wrongs  don't make a  right. Cut                                                               
the education budget.  They always say education is  good for our                                                               
kids, but what good  is it if it is the lowest  in the nation and                                                               
the University  of Alaska Anchorage lost  their accreditation. It                                                               
is  hard in  rural  Alaska.  By cutting  the  permanent fund  and                                                               
programs like  this, they drive  25,000 people to live  below the                                                               
poverty people.  A jar of  mayonnaise in Aniak costs  $17.99. Mr.                                                               
Morgan said  cutting the  permanent fund  and Senior  Benefits is                                                               
irresponsible.  He  told  the  committee not  to  listen  to  the                                                               
lobbyists but  listen to people  who are not state  employees and                                                               
need the money. They should not  spend the money on programs that                                                               
are not  working. This program  is working. They should  give the                                                               
money back to the private economy.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:47:17 PM                                                                                                                    
ELIZABETH  MOE, representing  self, Houston,  Alaska, opposed  SB                                                               
58.  She said  they are  going about  it all  wrong. Seniors  are                                                               
walking,  talking encyclopedias  and  they  should utilize  their                                                               
knowledge.  They need  to take  the oil  tax credit  and pay  for                                                               
social  services  and senior  programs  and  not take  away  from                                                               
people who built the nation.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
2:50:05 PM                                                                                                                    
LARRY SLONE, representing self, Homer,  Alaska, opposed SB 58. He                                                               
said retain  the program  but with  serious modifications.  It is                                                               
unquestionable that the  program is crucial for  a decent quality                                                               
of life for some individuals who  are living on the edge. But for                                                               
each of those persons, there is  another who does not really need                                                               
the money,  people such as  himself, for instance, who  own their                                                               
homes, have  money in the bank,  and have health care  taken care                                                               
of by the VA.  It is not a crucial need for him,  but he is still                                                               
afforded the  opportunity to access  that. He guesses  about half                                                               
the  users need  the program  and  the other  half are  basically                                                               
taking money  out of  the state  coffers that  could be  used for                                                               
more important purposes.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:51:33 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON  noted that people  can submit written  testimony to                                                               
senate.hss@akleg.gov. He closed public testimony.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
2:52:19 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GIESSEL thanked  all the seniors who called  in. It might                                                               
be helpful  for them to  know that there  are 20 senators  in the                                                               
Alaska Senate and four of them  are seniors. The oldest three sit                                                               
on  this committee.  Two  senators have  parents  in the  Pioneer                                                               
Homes. Six senators are territorial  kids who were born in Alaska                                                               
before it was  a state. She wanted to assure  those who called in                                                               
that there is longevity in the  Alaska Senate. If her mother were                                                               
still lucid,  she would be calling  in today to see  this program                                                               
continue.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  GIESSEL  said what  she  is  looking  to hear  from  the                                                               
department  is the  ramifications  of this  repeal.  She is  very                                                               
disappointed with  the administration  in offering a  policy bill                                                               
like  this without  thorough data  on its  implications to  other                                                               
programs and how  many people would lose all kinds  of support if                                                               
this were  to be repealed. She  thinks that if this  bill doesn't                                                               
pass, then this  piece in the budget can go  nowhere because they                                                               
need statutory  authority to repeal  the program. She  hopes they                                                               
get some information from the department.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BEGICH  said  he  echoes  the  comments  of  the  Senate                                                               
president. H noted that he was  born in the state, but his sister                                                               
was born  in the  territory. The  question that  came up  for him                                                               
during testimony was  hearing that a cut could have  an impact on                                                               
independent living.  They could be  faced with a greater  cost in                                                               
terms of  supporting those who  would no  longer be able  to live                                                               
independently.  They   have  spent  decades  moving   their  most                                                               
vulnerable  populations  toward   independent  living,  not  only                                                               
because  of  the  dignity  involved,   but  because  it  is  less                                                               
expensive for people to work  with families and neighborhoods and                                                               
live in their own homes than to  become a ward of the state. They                                                               
should know  the impact  before being asked  to make  this policy                                                               
decision. He  asked if they  can get that information.  He wanted                                                               
to let the people  on the phone know that this  is not a proposal                                                               
that  came  from  the  Alaska  Senate.  A  number  of  those  who                                                               
testified  who said,  "You  people  are doing  this."  This is  a                                                               
proposal  from   the  governor  that  they   are  considering  in                                                               
committee, and  hopefully, through  deliberation, they  will come                                                               
up with the right answer. But  they need the right information to                                                               
come up with the right answer.  He asked Director O'Brien if they                                                               
could know  the impact  of taking  people off  independent living                                                               
and  consequently  placing  them  on  greater  public  assistance                                                               
because they cannot live independently.  They can't tell them the                                                               
social cost, but they ought to  be able to tell them the monetary                                                               
cost. That ought to be quantifiable.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS.  O'BRIEN  replied  that  they  will need  to  get  into  some                                                               
detailed case information  to find examples of  what might happen                                                               
to people who  may not be eligible for  other programs. Sometimes                                                               
if  recipients  own  their  homes, for  example,  or  have  other                                                               
assets, they  may not have as  many options as others  may do. To                                                               
be  considered   for  certain   assistance  programs   or  living                                                               
arrangements, people  have to liquidate their  assets. They could                                                               
put  together some  of those  scenarios  that would  give a  more                                                               
detailed look at the impacts.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:57:42 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR WILSON said he wanted to  put on the record that some can't                                                               
choose where  they are born,  but some at  age 18 bought  a plane                                                               
ticket to come  to Alaska because they knew where  they wanted to                                                               
spend  their  lives. He  hopes  this  is  his  home for  now  and                                                               
forever.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
[CHAIR WILSON held SB 58 in committee.]                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:58:35 PM                                                                                                                    
There being  no further  business to  come before  the committee,                                                               
Chair  Wilson adjourned  the Senate  Health  and Social  Services                                                               
Standing Committee at 2:58 p.m.                                                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
PHSA Opposes SB 1 Dr Gina Bishop Comments.pdf SHSS 4/8/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 1
PHSA Opposes SB 1 Robert Honeycutt Comments.pdf SHSS 4/8/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 1
2019-04-01 - CON WH Testimony.pdf SHSS 4/8/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 1
SB 1 Ak Nurses Assoc - oppose.pdf SHSS 4/8/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 1
SB 1 Ak Radiology Opposition.pdf SHSS 4/8/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 1
SB 1 Ak Spine Clinic CON.pdf SHSS 4/8/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 1
M.1 SB 1 Amdmt 1 4.2.19.pdf SHSS 4/8/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 1
SB 58 Public Input 4.8.19.pdf SHSS 4/8/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 58
SB058 Fiscal Note DHSS-SBPP 2.13.19.pdf SHSS 4/8/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 58
SB058 Fiscal Note DHSS-PAFS 2.13.19.pdf SHSS 4/8/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 58
SB058 Senior Benefit Program Fact Sheet 2019.pdf SHSS 4/8/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 58
SB058 Senior Benefits Demographics by census area.pdf SHSS 4/8/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 58
SB058 Senior Benefits Enrollment and Amounts by Benefit Tier December 2018.pdf SHSS 4/8/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 58
SB058 Senior DHSS Service Array March 2019.pdf SHSS 4/8/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 58
SB058 Sponsor Statement (Transmittal Letter).pdf SHSS 4/8/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 58
SB058 Version A.pdf SHSS 4/8/2019 1:30:00 PM
SB 58
SB58 HB60 Senior Benefits cut and elimination - letter.pdf SHSS 4/8/2019 1:30:00 PM
HB 60
SB 58