Truth In Advocacy

October 26, 2011

Last summer, Seniors First San Diego advocates made their voices heard by championing the importance of AB 138 which requires the use of the Elder Index, rather than the antiquated Federal Poverty Level, in planning by local Area Agencies on Aging.

Advocates flooded the office of Senator Christine Kehoe with more than 250 letters of support. Kudos to Senator Kehoe for reading the letters and supporting the bill.

Last Sunday Governor Brown signed into law Assembly bill 138 the Elder Economic Planning Act of 2011.  It is a critical first step in making policy decisions for seniors based on real data rather than methodology that grossly understates income adequacy to meet basic needs.

This is a major victory for seniors throughout the State of California and the first big legislative success for Senior Community Center’s Seniors First San Diego™ campaign.

During this campaign, we learned a few things along the way. Foremost, we learned of the commitment that is required to see an idea transformed into policy. Issues are not resolved, nor policy created in a single act. It is a long road filled with many obstacles. So, Seniors First San Diego has adopted an acronym, V.E.R.A. which is rooted from Latin for truth, to remind us what is needed in our efforts to ensure that we stay true to our commitment to San Diego seniors. Read the rest of this entry »


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

September 2, 2011

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.   Read the rest of this entry »

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