Moving Forward: Assembly Bill 138, The Elder Index Takes Its First Steps

elder index wall of lettersIn July, over 250 seniors participated in a letter-writing campaign to State Senator Christine Kehoe, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, to support adoption of the Elder Index for planning purposes in counties throughout the state.  The Elder Index uses actual data in four key areas – housing, healthcare, food and transportation – to determine the income a senior needs to have his or her basic needs met.

Government currently uses the archaic Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to assess economic needs for older adults.  The problem with the FPL is its questionable methodology and data.  A researcher in 1964 determined that in 1955 the average American family spent one-third of income on food.  That number was multiplied by three creating the FPL.  The only change from 1964 is that the FPL is adjusted annually by the Consumer Price Index (CPI).     The stark reality is that we are making major economic policy decisions impacting millions of seniors based on data more than a half century old using a flawed hypothesis.

Nowhere is this more evident that in the chasm between the FPL and the Elder Index here in San Diego.  The FPL is $10,830 per year.  The Elder Index in San Diego is $24,000 – more than double FPL.  This is why so many seniors are falling through the cracks – they simply don’t have enough money to take care of themselves.

On August 25th, thanks to the leadership of Senator Kehoe, the Elder Index bill (AB 138) passed by a 6-3 vote in the Appropriations Committee. I am extraordinarily proud of the seniors who made their voices heard loudly in Sacramento.  Getting the Elder Index out of committee is a major victory in a year of tough cuts for seniors.  Furthermore, on Wednesday the senate voted “aye” 25-14 with amendments.  

But we’re not done and need your help to get this bill to Governor Brown’s desk.  Please contact your Assembly member and encourage them to vote in favor of AB138 with new amendments when it reaches the floor.

If you don’t know who your Assembly Member is, go to www.assembly.ca.gov, select “find my address” from the left-side navigation.

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