The Denver Post in an article on the front page of the January 10, 2018 edition previewed “top eight issues for Colorado’s 2018 session”. These were:
- “PERA faces difficult overhaul with big stakes.
- Sexual harassment scandals prompt calls for new policies.
- Lawmakers offer competing plans to fix roads.
- Opioid crises remains a potent issue with new legislative package.
- Growing urban-rural divide is demanding more attention.
- Oil and gas returns to the forefront amid deadly incidents and fires.
- Hickenlooper’s final year and his future.
- Election will inform the tone of the session.”
Denver Post – January 10, 2018, DenverPost.com
PERA is a specific funded retirement plan for state employees and many local government employees. This is an important issue for those who rely on retirement benefits, and for improved financial stability for the state.
For all, including those who are PERA beneficiaries: This is a “wakeup call” to recognize the coming impact of the aging population. Currently there is insufficient focus on the need for action. The potential impact continues to be either unrecognized or is something for future action. Leadership of the legislature and the governor continues to consider this a problem for later leaders to solve. The governor’s State of the State speech on January 11, 2018 talked about many important issues. HOWEVER: not one mention of the impact on the budget caused by the aging population, except comments regarding PERA. (Kudos to The Denver Post, which accurately reported on items of importance at the capitol.)
Link to State of the State Speech Video – CLICK HERE
The Colorado Senior Lobby (CSL) continues to document that the impact on state funds increases significantly as the population approaches age 80. This is an important distinction with federal funding which is impacted significantly as the population turns 65. At the federal level the impact of the “baby boomers” started about 2010. But at the state level this impact starts about 2025 and continues until at least 2050.
There has always been the “sick analogy of the gurney solution”. This is when someone is unable to pay for needed services, they will be put on a gurney and rolled out to the dumpster. Unfortunately, this is happening now. In Baltimore “the hospital’s security guards had just wheeled a patient to a bus stop, and in the freezing temperatures they left her there. “The only thing she had on was a hospital gown”. This was reported by CBS news, documented by a video. A Good Samaritan, walking by, called 911. Medics ended up taking the patient back to the same hospital.
This is particularly disturbing because the hospital was the University of Maryland Medical Center – the state’s flagship hospital.
This is not an isolated event. “In 2007, ‘60 Minutes’ investigated the practice of removing homeless patients from Los Angeles hospitals and leaving them downtown.”
There are words now used to describe this – HOSPITAL DUMPING.
This is an extreme example – but it emphasizes the impact of tight budgets and a FAILURE TO PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE.
Sometimes Colorado Senior Lobby (CSL) sounds like a broken record. But actions are needed now to reduce future impact.
At this time, the most important action is to increase awareness of the projected impact on the state’s budget, and the need for both government, non-profit and private sector mobilization to reduce the need for more expensive governmental services.
THIS IS NOT A PARTISAN ISSUE. It is, however, important to recognize the situation is different for urban and rural communities. We are all aging, and we all have a stake in developing and implementing preparations for the future.
- Delay (shorten) the need for assisted living/nursing home admittance.
- More cost effective “end-of-life” planning.
- Provide a minimum level of income, so all have adequate healthy food and access to needed medications.
- Provide for clean, safe living conditions for all.
- Have availability of transportation so needed services are accessible.
- Make hard choices on the allocation of funds. Priority must be given to funding that promotes action item A and B above.
The needs are not complicated. The solutions are. These are hard decisions, but legislators are elected to solve problems. Hold your elected officials accountable for providing answers.