We're All in This Together

Bellevue Network on Aging representative Diana Thompson (left) and ADS Advisory Council officers Tony Provine and Molly Holmes joined forces in Olympia's marble halls on 2013 Senior Lobby Day.

As our legislators and other elected leaders begin the process of creating an annual budget, scores of concerned citizens are ready to offer information and rationales to help guide their deliberations. With scarce resources and so many programs deserving funding, the budget process can feel like a competitive sport where there are few winners and many losers.

Often it seems like the only way to secure funding is by raising the importance or urgency of one group's prescriptive measures while diminishing the worthiness of other investments. Instead of pitting one group against another, we need a holistic and inclusive approach to meeting the needs of all.

It is no less important to provide for the safety and security of our children than it is for our elders. For children, it may require delivering a better educational system that will prepare them to survive and thrive as adults. For aging adults, it may require delivering services that enable them to maintain health and independence by reducing reliance on hospitals and nursing homes.

All of us benefit from these investments and we should not be asked to choose one or the other. Children, parents, grandparents and great grandparents are interconnected in our homes, communities and throughout society.

While members of the Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services advocate primarily for aging adults and people with disabilities, we can never forget that other needs are just as important in building healthy communities.

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On February 21, Advisory Council members participated in 2013 Senior Lobby Day in Olympia. I want to thank members of the Advocacy Committee and other Advisory Council members and friends who participated in the event.. They met with their own legislators and, in small groups, with other members of the King County legislative delegation.

Our goal was to provide honest, reliable information about the effect of budget cuts—and the public benefit of funding—for senior programs throughout Washington. Our state legislators have the difficult and unenviable task of balancing competing demands and limited resources. I truly appreciate those who took time to hear their constituents' stories and consider all of the facts.

I want to highlight a nationwide movement called Caring Across Generations that is working to protect Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, home care jobs, and worker rights. Last year, the City of Seattle became the first city in the nation to pass a resolution supporting the Caring Across Generations campaign. Here are some of the facts presented to the Seattle City Council:

  • In our state, 16.2 percent of residents receive Social Security benefits, 14.6 percent of residents receive Medicare benefits, and 15.4 percent of residents receive Medicaid benefits and depend on these vital programs as a foundation for their economic survival.
  • 10.3 percent of the Seattle population is 65 or older, and 12.1 percent of the population is between the ages of 55 and 64.
  • In Seattle, 3,792 individuals receive home care support through DSHS, and the number will grow as the baby-boomers age.
  • Across the U.S., 21 percent of the adult population (age 18+) provides unpaid care to an adult (age 18+).
  • In King County, 62.5 percent of direct care workers earn less than 200 percent of the poverty level.
  • In Seattle, the care workforce is made up of 65.4 percent people of color and only 24.4 percent of home care workers have employer-sponsored health insurance.

Please read Seattle City Council Resolution 31388 for more information about the pressing need to meet the Caring Across Generations goals: develop care jobs, improve job quality for home care workers, develop training standards and career pathways, support legalization for home care workers, and create a comprehensive approach to making quality care affordable for individuals and families.

We are all in this together.

—Tony Provine, Chair
Seattle King County Advisory Council on Aging and Disability Services