Mary Katherine Murphy Staff reporter
August 21, 2013
On Monday, some 25 Willow Place residents received an update on the state legislature’s work on issues affecting North Carolina’s elderly population.
State Rep. Ken Goodman shared recent legislation passed in the interests of seniors, as did Gregory Taylor, a field worker for state Rep. Garland Pierce. State Sen. Gene McLaurin was unable to attend.
“The three people who represent you in Raleigh … we all consider the most important thing we do is to protect the rights and dignity of the elderly in North Carolina,” Goodman said. “I think the other really important thing we do is to make sure that our children have the opportunities that they need for education and an equal opportunity to succeed in life. I think those two things, children and elderly people, if we can’t do what we’re required to do for them, we shouldn’t be in Raleigh.”
Taylor informed the group of recently-implemented safeguards to protect the elderly, who are often susceptible to financial fraud. Financial institutions will be required to report suspicious activity that may impact seniors, and county social services and law enforcement will now have the authority to investigate such activity.
“The legislature has addressed that particular issue dealing with fraud and exploitation of older adults, which is something that we see happening and legislators have taken it upon themselves to give counties just a little bit more authority to examine financial records,” said Taylor
Among other legislation passed this session is a provision for drug testing of long-term health care employees, including those working in nursing homes.
“Anyone working in long-term care facilities is subject to random drug testing, which ensures that the residents receive the quality of care that they deserve,” Taylor said.
Goodman called that legislation a “very important” step toward ensuring that health care workers do not misuse medications necessary for their patients and thereby compromise their care. He also remarked upon the state of Medicaid in North Carolina, which was federally underfunded by $400 million in this budget year.
“The legislature has set up a commission to study Medicaid and they’re going to make some recommendations for Medicaid reform, which I think probably affects a lot of people here,” said Goodman. “And when you hear that word “reform,” you’d better grab your wallet, because reform can be a code word for cutting services and doing things that provide less services for our people.”
Goodman also encouraged senior and low-income constituents to utilize his office or the offices of other elected representatives as a resource for applying for the health care funds for which they qualify.
“These funds are worthless if you don’t know how to access them, so if there are issues or you’re not sure what your rights are or what to do, feel free to call my office and we’ll try to help you get to the right place to get the things you need done,” he said. “If you have problems with services that you’re supposed to be getting or you don’t know how to access these services, please get in touch with us and we’ll try to help you.”