Dear Governor Healey:
On behalf of the 350 cities and towns that have established a municipally based Council on Aging, we want to congratulate you as our new governor and express our sincere best wishes as you begin to lead this historic administration. The Massachusetts Councils on Aging (MCOA) is looking forward to partnering with you and your Administration on issues impacting older adults.
Councils On Aging are the frontline of providing programs, services, supports, and resources for older adults across the Commonwealth, and served as literal lifelines for hundreds of thousands of older adults during the last three years of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the last decade, the Councils have experienced tremendous growth from the boomer generation while still trying to assist older generations. To try and keep up with the increased demand for services, the Councils have worked in close partnership with state agencies to identify the challenges and implement programs and services to meet the needs of all older adults in the Commonwealth. In keeping with this collaboration, and to maintain the level of services we provide to all seniors, we want to respectfully request that as you craft your first budget, you consider including the following items in the Fiscal Year 2024 budget. These items will help the Councils maintain our services for the seniors in each municipality across the Commonwealth.
Line Item 9110-9002– Local Aid to Municipal Councils on Aging – $26,300,000
- This funding will provide each municipality with $14 per elder per year, a needed increase from the $12 allocated in FY2023 (Formula Grant Program, FG).
- This funding level will also restore the 90/10 proportional split between the Formula grant program and the Service Incentive grant program which amounts to $2,163,947 of the total request.
Line item 9110-1640 – Geriatric Mental Health (Older Adult Behavioral Health)- $3.5 million
- The current allocation of $2.5 million provides services via Elder Mental Health Outreach Teams to less than 50% of the municipalities and we join with advocates from across the Behavioral Health and Elder Care networks to request additional funding to meet the current need.
Line Item 9110-9002 – Local Aid to Municipal Councils on Aging
The COAs work is accomplished in part through Line Item 9110-9002 which funds two programs: the Service Incentive Grant program (SIG) and the Formula Grant Program (FG). SIG was the original intent of the line item in FY80 and was established to build capacity, promote regionalization, and foster innovation. The Formula Grant was developed in FY82, using the 1980 decennial US Census to fund a per capita allocation to augment local budgets. The FG focused on services and programs for older adults and continues to be allocated based on the US decennial Federal Census. Over the last two decades, 9110-9002 has been split roughly 90% for FG and 10% for SIG. The SIG continues to be competitive, align with priorities set by the Administration and Legislature, and promotes regionalization, outreach, transportation and innovation.
As mentioned above, the demand for services and supports for older adults has increased tremendously in recent years. This is due not only to the influx of “baby boomers” turning 60, as nearly 25% of the Commonwealth’s population is now over the age of 60, but also to the impact of COVID-19 on older adults.
Data Source: Donahue Institute, UMASS/Boston
As the first stop on the elder care continuum, our statewide network of Councils on Aging and Senior Centers have experienced overwhelming demand for services, particularly for our economic security programs, healthy aging and wellness programs, transportation, supportive day programs, and our outreach efforts to link older adults to much needed federal and state benefits.
The current Formula Grant of $12 per elder, combined with the inflationary fiscal challenges we are facing, do not address this continued growth of the older adult population that crosses the threshold of our Commonwealth’s Senior Centers every day. The Massachusetts Association of Councils on Aging (MCOA) asks for your support as we seek to increase the Council on Aging (COA) Formula Grant, line item 9110-9002, from $12 per elder per year to $14 per elder per year for FY24 in order to help the Councils meet the increased needs. It is important to note that the Formula Grant is the only standardized funding that we receive from the Commonwealth to meet the needs of adults 60 and older, a rate lower than the hourly minimum wage.
MCOA is of course very grateful for the continued funding for the Councils in the final FY23 budget which included an additional $2,522,500 in earmarks above the $21m required for the $12/elder allocation and partial funding for the SIG.
Line item 9110-1640 – Geriatric Mental Health (Older Adult Behavioral Health)
COVID has had a devastating impact on older adults, not just in their physical health, but also with their behavioral health including isolation, loneliness, depression, addiction, suicide, substance use, amongst other devastating outcomes. Now, more than ever, any increase in line item 9110-1640 would further develop the Behavioral Health Services to our Commonwealth’s 1.7 million older adults. The current allocation of $2.5 million is a significant investment which provides vital services through the Elder Mental Health Outreach Teams but is only enough to cover less than 50% of the municipalities. With an increase of $1M in this line item, we could provide critical mental services through the Outreach Teams to many more municipalities to address the significant need.
We appreciate the considerable task of crafting and finalizing the Administration’s first budget and hope you will call on MCOA to provide any backup or information you may need to understand the work of the Councils on Aging in the Commonwealth and the funding that is being requested.
If you have any questions about this request, please do not hesitate to contact Betsy Connell, Executive Director of MCOA at email@example.com.
Thank you for your consideration of these requests and your support of the Commonwealth’s older adults. We look forward to a productive and supportive working relationship with your Administration.
MCOA President and
Director, Burlington Council on Aging
Interim Secretary Mary Beckman, Executive Office of Health and Human Services
|CC:||Lieutenant Governor, Kim Driscoll|
|Secretary Matthew Gorzkowicz, Executive Office of Administration and Finance|
|Interim Secretary Mary Beckman, Executive Office of Health and Human Services|
|Secretary Elizabeth Chen, Executive Office of Elder Affairs|