News Flash

Council on Aging Department

Posted on: December 28, 2020

Holiday Update from MCOA

Update from Massachusetts Council on Aging:


Holiday Message 2020 with some updates:
Remembering 2020 and a Look Ahead to 2021


As we gather with family and friends this holiday season, wearing masks and practicing social distancing, we should all reflect on the extraordinary year we have all endured.

We should remember that many will be missing from our dining tables who were lost to this pandemic, and we should not overlook the potentially hidden collateral damage to our families and friends, to our economy, and to our nation. We should note as social workers that many grieve thru anger, denial, and withdrawal.

Most have found coping mechanisms that helps us get up in the morning to continue to provide that focal point for the 1.7million older adults of our Commonwealth. Frankly, there are many days I have trouble getting out of bed, but as I mentioned before, I rely daily on these words:

Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can, and
Wisdom to know the difference.

I also take comfort that so many of you have shown leadership by adapting your programs, transforming your Centers, and evolving to meet the needs of your residents. We all should take pride in our accomplishments.

We should also acknowledge that we didn’t get it all right. I remind all of you to continue to journal about what you have learned and then decide how to update your internal procedures and your Emergency Preparedness Manuals. COVID has shown a light on the inequities in our service delivery system; and we need to capture what we have learned, and use it to transform and reimagine our network post COVID.

In addition, we have much to be grateful for including the leadership from the Administration the Legislature, and our local governing authorities that have steered us through these trying times.

Statewide, during this recession, we maintained level funding that help keep vital services going as we faced local cuts. In addition, the new procedures around rolling over the Formula Grant funding will allow for better spending of tax dollars and the proposed reduction to the FG application and annual reports are welcomed changes.
As we look ahead into 2021, there are many uncertainties but there are also clear signs of hope that will help build our Communities, our Commonwealth, and our Nation back better. The following bullets are some updates I wish to share:

  •        Two vaccines have been approved with more in the pipeline. As a nation, we will need 700 million doses to vaccinate everyone and that may take until early fall. Some may not want to participate and some may not be able to be treated. The size of these cohorts and the impact they will have on our service delivery system is still an unknown. Additionally, we do not know if once vaccinated, can you still be a carrier and how long this immunization will last. But ultimately there is a vaccine, it will save lives and will begin to restore our way of life.

  •     Because of these uncertainties, MCOA will continue to be virtual thru early fall 2021 with the hope that this time next year we can conduct some type of public gathering to celebrate what we have been reimagine during these dark months.

  •        Until then, MCOA will continue to conduct and promote online learning including the spring Small and Rural Conference, the 2021 Fall Conference, our quarterly Membership Meetings, our Working Groups trainings, and our new series called Community Connections. We will also continue to support our regional meetings and we will offer our statewide forums as needed.

  •      The FY21 Budget was signed December 9, 2020 and we await imminent release of the FY21 Formula Grant funds set at $12/elder with a $6000 minimum. In addition, since the legislature included and the Governor signed the GAA, we should see full funding of the Service Incentive Grant Program. Both are truly reasons to celebrate especially in this economy and I again ask each of you to contact the Administration and your legislature to simply say: Thank You for level funding Line Item #9110-9002.

  •    Once the Secretary releases the final allocation for MCOA’s SIG funding, we will level fund our current contracts. We then plan to release an RFP (Request for Proposals) for three initiatives prioritized by our Membership and approved by EOEA. We will seek proposals for local solutions for: Nutrition Insecurity, Isolation and Loneliness, and for Alternate Services for group respite, especially those who had been served through our Supportive Day Programs. We look to our members for creative solutions for these ongoing problems that have been complicated even more by COVID. Expect the RFP to be released momentarily with a submission date mid-late January. All work must be completed by June 30 2021. So, think about short term, one time only programs/events/services that you wish to implement locally and submit your proposals.

  •     As we move into the New Year 2021 there are several external events that you should also keep in mind. The filing date for new legislation for the 192nd General Court will be mid-January and if you have any proposals to change MGL (Massachusetts General Laws) please let us know and we can help you find the necessary Legislative sponsor to file before the deadline. Bills filed before the deadline ensures consideration during the next two-year session.

  •     Over the next few months, the results from the 2020 US Census will be released and that will have a major impact on your COA Formula Grant (FG) for FY22. Projections from the Donahue Institute/UMASS Amherst indicate an increase in the over 60 population by 450,000 older adults. To maintain the $12/Formula Grant we would need an additional $6 million in Line Item #9110-9002, a 30% increase over the FY21 allocation of $17million, which seems highly unlikely.

We have done the calculations, town by town. A chart was created by town of the estimated outcomes starting with if we receive only level funding for the line item at $17m for FY22 (the FG will revert to the FY16 level of $9/elder) thru full funding of $23m (which will maintain the FG at $12). You can find the projections for your community at https://mcoaonline.com/2020/12/04/impact-of-2020-us-census-on-the-coa-formula-grant-projections/

The Board met on December 15, 2020 and voted to pursue a strategy to request a middle ground of $20 million in line item #9110-9002 that would allow for an FG $10.50/elder. Our letter to Governor Baker that includes this request can be found at https://mcoaonline.com/2020/12/17/mcoa-fy22-request-to-governor-baker/

Shortly after the 192nd General Court is sworn-in in early January, a similar letter will be mailed to all newly (re)elected Representatives and Senators. We will post that version online under https://mcoaonline.com/advocacy/advocacy-agenda/ for your use as you join our advocacy campaign.

Thus, we have allotted to reflect on and a lot to prepare for as we move forward towards that light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, these holidays are different, but abiding by the proscribed precautions (masks, washing hands, social distancing, small groups, etc.) will lessen your chance of exposure and will reduce demand on our already overburden health care system. By working together, we can #Get MA Back and Build (our communities) Back Better.

We are on Heartbreak Hill folks, the end is in site, and soon we will be able to celebrate in 2021.

Sincerely,


David P. Stevens
Executive Director
Massachusetts Councils on Aging

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