The Colorado Legislature, in an election year continued their support of senior citizen issues in property tax relief, continuation of licensure for home care agencies, and expansion of research efforts for Alzheimer’s Disease.
As the nation continues to struggle with increased costs and devastation to individuals from Alzheimer’s Disease, the Colorado legislation appropriated $250,000 to the University of Colorado to support the new research initiatives to study the relationship between Down’s Syndrome and Alzheimer’s Disease. Fueled by national research efforts this research is seen as leading the way to looking for solutions to the dreaded disease.
Property tax relief is always of interest to home owners. The legislature continued the Property Tax Homestead Exemption which allows for a 50% discount on property taxes for the first $200,000 of assessed value of the primary residence. The exemption was expanded to allow seniors who qualified for this benefit, but who lost the exemption as a result of having to purchase or rebuild a home due to loss from natural disaster such as flooding or fires to continue to receive it.
Under the leadership of Senator John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, more low income seniors and disabled individuals who are faced with increases in rent and property taxes will qualify for a refund. The Property Tax Rent Heat Credit program will allow individuals whose income is $12,900 or less to qualify for as much as a $900 refund. Those who are low income will receive a minimum payment of $250 per year.
Five years ago, the legislature approved licensure of home care agencies to protect seniors and other individuals who need assistance to stay in their own home. Home care agencies will continue to be licensed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment affording individuals protections. Minimum benchmarks for basic training requirements for staff and standards for quality of care will be continued. Despite much controversy from the home care agencies, the leadership of Senator Irene Aguilar, D-Denver and Representative Dave Young, D-Greeley, prevailed to protect consumers using the these services.
Nursing home residents who on Medicaid will receive an increase in the amount of personal needs money they are allowed to keep from $50 per month to $75 per month. In future years, residents will receive an annual increase pegged to the annual cost of living. The legislature also supported efforts to provide more funding for innovation in quality of care in nursing homes from the monies collected from fines levied against nursing homes.
The Joint Budget Committee appropriated $4,000,000 of new funding to support the Older Coloradoans Act. This funding increases support for meals on wheels, home care, transportation, legal services, and home repair. In addition, the legislature provided an additional $500,000 for assistance with glasses and other vision services and $3 million to support dental services for low income seniors.
The needs of older adults continue to be supported by elected officials in Colorado. For more information to see if you qualify for any of these new or ongoing programs, call 303-333-3482.