GCOA chair Vicki Vaughn Johnson

Forsyth County seniors gathered in Cumming last week to hear about state funding and legislation targeting the needs of older Georgians.

This includes lawmakers’ commitment of $5 million in new funding for a variety of programs for the elderly.

Advocates for the elderly hosted a series of meetings across Georgia to showcase their recent legislative victories on behalf of seniors.

The Coalition of Advocates for Georgia’s Elderly (CO-AGE) and the Georgia Council on Aging hosted a session of Engage with CO-AGE at the Sexton Hall Enrichment Center in Cumming on Wednesday, May 1. The event was co-sponsored by Forsyth Senior Services, and CO-AGE chair Vicki Vaughn Johnson of Cumming was speaker.

“Through new laws and new funding, the governor and legislature passed a range of improvements that will help countless seniors stay independent longer,” Johnson told those in attendance.

In the General Assembly session that ended April 2, lawmakers voted to increase the budget for Home and Community Based Services by $2 million, for Meals on Wheels by $1.4 million and for the Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) by nearly $500,000 -- $338,802 for a public website and $157,000 for assistive technology. In addition, the personal needs allowance for nursing home residents was increased by $5 per month per person to $70 per month.

Lawmakers also strengthened elder abuse statutes, allowing higher penalties for battery and allowing law enforcement to investigate potential abuse in unlicensed personal care homes when regulators are not present.

Another initiative, pushed by CO-AGE and passed by the Georgia House, creates a House study committee on senior housing options. Advocates also supported proposed legislation addressing senior transportation and health coverage for low-income seniors.

At the meeting, Forsyth County seniors were able to submit their priorities for the 2020 legislative session, which kicks off next January.

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