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Silver Haired Legislature holds annual session

The Oskaloosa Independent of Oskaloosa, Kansas

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The Kansas Silver Haired Legislature held its 33rd annual session in Topeka Oct. 6-8.

The delegates debated and voted on the issues presented to them by the executive board from their July meeting. These issues, in the form of bills and resolutions, are subjected to a two-day process of committee hearings and debate, and then voted on two separate times before being considered as passed.

Those bills and resolutions that survive this process are then sent to either the Kansas State Legislature for consideration during the next session, or to the Kansas Congressional delegation for their support when this particular topic is brought up for consideration in Congress.

Three bills were favorably passed by this year's SHL: Bill No. 3201, declaring support to maintain or increase state funding for the Senior Care Act, the only state-run program that grants elderly Kansas residents the opportunity to receive care services and support in their homes, as administered by the Area Agencies on Aging;

Bill No. 3204, urging the Kansas Legislature to legalize medical marijuana for medicinal purposes, especially for certain senior medical conditions such as in cancer treatments, neuro-muscular conditions, and glaucoma, and in seizure disorders for citizens of all ages;

SHL Bill No. 3206, which asks the Legislature to repeal a law passed two years ago which potentially could result in Kansas taking over the Medicare program for its citizens.

A carryover bill from 2014, dealing with a proposal for more stringent controls on the predatory practices prevalent in the Payday Loan industry which are seemingly aimed at senior citizens, is still in the Kansas Legislature and was therefore automatically supported for the upcoming 2016 Legislative session beginning in January.

Four of the six resolutions under consideration during this year's session also received favorable status, and will therefore be forwarded to the proper governmental agency for consideration. These resolutions include:

1) Resolution No. 3202, urging the Legislature to adopt the policy returning the state Long-Term Care

Ombudsman program to at least one full-time regional Ombudsman for each of the 11 Area Agencies on Aging.

2) Resolution No. 3205, urging Congress to re-authorize the federal Older Americans Act, first passed 50 years ago in 1965. The re-authorization has already passed the Senate, and awaits consideration in the House. Re-authorization was supposed to take place in 2011, and funding levels have basically stayed the same since 2002. This resolution will be forwarded to the Kansas Congressional delegation.

3) Resolution No. 3207, urging the Legislature to support the expansion of Medicaid in Kansas. This would help both the Kansas Senior Citizens between the ages of 60-65 who are just above the federal poverty level yet not able to financially afford medical insurance, as well as helping hospitals across the state, especially the Critical Access Hospitals in rural Kansas, to improve their bottom line by receiving payment for services that must often be written off as being uncollectable.

4) Resolution No. 3208, urging the Kansas Congressional delegation to support the preservation of Social Security and Medicare. Approximately 92 percent of Kansas seniors receive Social Security, comprising about 55 percent of the typical older Kan-san's family income, while nearly 97 percent of older Kansans, or roughly 450,000 people, are enrolled in Medicare.

A highlight of the event was the annual banquet when a $1,000 scholarship to a geriatric nursing student was awarded to Hannah Elissa of Pittsburg State University.

Hladky can be reached at 785-597-5478 or cathouse40@hotmail.com.

The Silver Haired Legislature was created by an act of Congress in 1969, with the Kansas Silver Haired Legislature being formed in 1982. Each county is entitled to one representative, with the five largest counties having up to five additional representatives.



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Original Publication Date: November 5, 2015



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