Posts Tagged ‘NJ State’

NJ Elder Economic Security Index

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

In 2009 NJFA released the first NJ Elder Economic Security Index Report. This report provided the cost of living for people over 65 in NJ. Not only did it determine how much seniors need to meet their basic needs in NJ, but also broke down the data for all 21 counties in NJ.

 If you are not familiar with the Index, it breaks down the cost of living for NJ seniors in several categories- Housing, Transportation, Food, Healthcare and Misc. It also looks at these costs for both single elders and those living in a two person household. The Index goes even further to differentiate the costs for renters, homeowners with a mortgage and homeowners without a mortgage. With the release of the report in 2009 this opened the eyes of many policymakers and advocates as to the high cost of living for seniors. It also highlighted the issue of what senior’s income was compared to their cost of living. The accompanying Policy Brief also looked at the benefit programs and public supports that are available

In 2012 NJFA released an Index update. Not only did NJFA update the numbers but the new report also included a demographics study. The demographics study told us how many seniors in NJ were living below the Elder Index, not just in the state of NJ, but in each county as well.

Of single and two person households over 65 in NJ, 42.6% of them live below the Elder Index. Because the Elder Index is based on the costs for either a single elder or an elder living in a two person household, the demographic study misses those who are living in a household with 3 or more people.

If in 2012 42.6% of elderly single and two person households were living below the Index in NJ, what does that mean for 2013 and beyond? If we look at the change from 2009 (the first NJ Elder Index) and 2013, some seniors have seen more than a 30% increase in their cost of living. In 2009 the cost of living for a single senior renter in NJ was estimated to be $25,941. In 2013 its $28,860, that’s an 11.25% increase in costs without an increase in income. Some seniors may find it necessary to seek employment in retirement.

Not all seniors will be able to find employment or may not even be able to work. This is where benefit programs enter the picture. Programs like PAAD or Senior Gold can help cut the cost of prescription medications. Lifeline and LIHEAP can help them to pay their utilities bills. SNAP (formerly food stamps), Farmers Market Coupons and other nutrition programs will make it easier to access healthy foods. The highest cost for seniors is their housing. So naturally affordable housing would make the biggest impact for a senior who is below the index. However, affordable housing is difficult to come by. Many seniors are on multiple waiting lists, each kept separately without a way of sharing the information.

This is why NJFA continues to advocate for all services that may benefit seniors. In order to ensure that all of NJ’s seniors can live in the community of their choice, with independence and dignity.

To view the full Elder Index Report, please visit our website at www.njfoundationforaging.org/issues.html

 

 

 

 

More about NJFA’s 12th Annual Conference!

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Offering welcoming remarks at the New Jersey Foundation for Aging’s conference this year was Patricia Polansky, Assistant Commissioner from the Dept. of Health and Senior Services.  We were pleased to have Pat join us and kick off the day! Her remarks began with comments about the budget and fiscal concerns for the State. However, the Assistant Commissioner transitioned to big changes coming to NJ as a result of Healthcare reform. Ms. Polansky advised that as a result of President Obama signing into law the healthcare reform bill, also known as the Affordable Care Act, “$60 million in grants are being made available for states to help individuals and their caregivers better understand and navigate their health and long-term care options”.  Adding, “the purpose of this grant program authorized by the Affordable Care Act is to create streamlined, coordinated statewide systems of information, counseling and access that will help people find consumer-friendly answers they seek to meet their health and long-term care needs”.

The Assistant Commissioner went on the describe what NJ is already doing, “New Jersey has achieved excellent results in building on existing programs and implementing new approaches for supporting home and community based services”. Pat was referring to the Independence, Dignity and Choice in Long-Term Care Act, stating that, “the state’s long-term care funding structure is being adjusted to provide more options for older adults through budgetary rebalancing”. She followed up this statement by pointing out that there is a growing population of older and disabled persons who desire to stay at home with care rather than going into a nursing home, she stated that policy changes have been made to support that.

Pat added, “The State’s effort to expand home and community based services options for individuals who qualify for Medicaid Institutional Care, started with consolidating 3 Medicaid Waiver Programs into a single line item now know as Global Options for Long-Term Care. Pat added, “we have seen an increase of 1,840 or 23% more participants served; yet well within the SFY 2010 budget”.  She informed the crowd that GO serves 10,000 aging and disabled clients, but that is was actually a cost savings.  She pointed out to the audience, “The average Medicaid rate for a NJ nursing home is $63,541 per year, whereas the annual cost is $17,112 for the Medicaid Waiver, Global Options. Clearly this demonstrates a more cost-effective approach”.

The conference attendees were glad to have heard these valuable updates from the Assistant Commissioner. Many people came up to us during the day to say how wonderful it was to have the Assistant Commissioner share these details with the group.

We hope you have also found this synopsis of the remarks offered by the Assistant Commissioner helpful and informative, please stay tuned for more details and excerpts from the conference.