Advisory Council Meeting

April 9, 2008

Minutes

Held at 2573 Midpoint Drive, Ste. 108

Fort Collins, Colorado  80525

 

Members Present:

Nancy Arthur

David Born

Cassie Castleberry

 

Caryll Cram

Helen Davis

Rene DeMattei

 

Manfred Diehl

Tim Dolan

Marcy Greenslit

 

Judy Jones

Ellen Pihlstrom

Gail Reader

 

Earl Stevens

Barbara Tuttle

Stan Ulrich

 

Sharon Zamora

 

 

 

 

 

 

Members Absent :

Jim Barlow

Peggy Bowers

Elnora McCloughan

 

Mary Shultz

Don Venneberg

 

 

 

 

 

Staff Present:

Tina Corrigan-Hugo

Margaret Long

Ruth Long

 

Katy Mason

Lynette McGowan

Linda Rumney

 

Rebecca Smyser

Laura Sutherlin

 

 

 

 

 

Guests Present:

Irene Aguilar, MD

Elaine Boni

Eliza Carney

 

Kevin Mabry, D.P.M.

 

 

CALL TO ORDER

Helen Davis called the meeting to order at 1:38 p.m.

INTRODUCTIONS

The following guests were introduced:  Dr. Irene Aguilar, president of Health Care for All Colorado and Eliza Carney and Kevin Mabry both with Health Care for All Colorado.

CONSIDERATION OF TODAY’S AGENDA AND MINUTES OF March 12, 2009

Motion to accept the minutes as presented was made and passed. 

CHAIR REPORT

Helen Davis reported that the Executive Committee has a good handle on future Advisory Council presentations.  The committee discussed the Office on Aging budget as well as the proposed graduate student study on the impact of the economy on seniors.  Margaret discussed the Matter of Balance proposed partnership that the Office on Aging has with the Seasons and Aspen Club.  Helen stated that the council needs to start recruiting for new board members and obtain nominations of new officers.  Terms are up in June and the new officers and members will start in July.  Helen asked members to contact a member of the Executive Committee if they are interested in being an officer.  In May, the Executive Committee will solidify the slate of officers and voting will be at the June meeting.  Helen noted that being the chair is an enjoyable and easy job and stated that Margaret, Katy and Tina give lots of help. 

OFFICE ON AGING PRESENTATION:  Irene Aguilar, MD, President of Health Care for All Colorado

Stan Ulrich introduced Dr. Irene Aguilar to the council.  Dr. Aguilar is the president of Health Care for All Colorado and has been a primary care physician at the Westside Clinic for 20 years.  She has worked on the Blue Ribbon Commission and Vulnerable Persons Task Force and is helping Representative Kelafas with HB09-1273.

 

Dr. Aguilar started the presentation with a brief history of health insurance.  Initially, health insurance was a social vehicle to spread the risk of loss of money and to help restore people to financial security.  In 1934, Blue Cross started as a non-profit.  Insurance companies figured that they could increase the pot of money to cover costs by going through employers.  In the 1930-40’s during WWII, there were not enough working people in the United States because of the war.  There were many jobs available, but not enough workers.  Employers started “salary wars” to attract workers.  The government started wage controls and allowed benefits to be exempt from taxes.  This resulted in companies being able to offer better benefits instead of more pay. 

 

As more and more European countries started to go to socialized medicine, the United States resisted.  The reason behind the resistance was that people did not want the government involved in their health care and did not want the government telling doctors how to do their job. There was also concern that socialized medicine went against capitalism. 

 

By the 1980’s, 70% of workers received health insurance through their employers.  Popularity of employer-based coverage led to high profits for health insurance companies which then led to for-profit health insurance companies.  Dr. Aguilar stated that health insurance companies have a legal duty to make a profit for their shareholders.  The company’s focus is to control costs and keep profits going up. Dr. Aguilar noted that now insurance companies avoid risk instead of spreading the risk.  Some employers have employees apply for insurance or select employees that are younger and healthier. 

 

Dr. Aguilar shared a number of statistics with the group.  In 2006, there were billions of dollars being made by pharmaceutical and insurance companies.  Currently, the government pays for 66% of health insurance through the Medicare/Medicaid and Veterans Administration systems and other tax subsidies.  Dr. Aguilar shared slides showing the high mortality rates in the United States and compared these rates to other countries.   

 

The goal of HB09-1273 is to create a single risk pool of all residents and make comprehensive health care available and affordable to all.  The purpose of the bill is to create an authority that will design and create the Colorado Health Care System.  This authority would be able to effectively control costs by reducing administrative costs, simplify payment systems and negotiate bulk pricing.

 

The opponents of the single payer health care plan are the insurance companies (loss of business and profit), pharmaceutical companies (loss of profit), providers (fear change), small businesses (forced to pay a share), and insured (fear of less coverage/access and more costs).  The supporters are the uninsured, the elderly and middle class, Medicaid/Medicare recipients, big businesses, health care providers and employees.

 

For more information please visit www.healthcareforallcolorado.org.

 

A Northern Colorado Chapter meeting is scheduled on April 29 at the Harmony Library from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

UPDATE ON OFFICE ON AGING

Margaret Long reported that the Office on Aging accountant just finished the final budget forecast.  Margaret gave a brief overview and stated that she will submit the revised plan for the current year to the state tomorrow.  There are some excess funds that have not been spent and there are no current plans to spend them.  The Office on Aging is planning to carry over more than the 10% allowed.  Margaret believes that we are looking at a decrease of about $50,000 in state funding for next year.  She believes that the Long Bill will be cut about $1M for senior funding.  Based on these assumptions, Margaret will ask the state to carryover these excess funds, so there will be enough money to fund all of the programs next year at the current level.  Earl moved to accept the carryover plan, Stan seconded and the motion was carried. 

 

Margaret noted that she will be attending a stimulus package meeting all day on Monday, April 13.  The stimulus bill has money specifically for nutrition.  The group will be discussing how to distribute the money.  Margaret reported that our nutrition programs do not have waiting lists, and since this is one-time money, Margaret will advocate sharing the money with Denver where there is a waiting list of approximately 400-500 people for home delivered meals. 

COUNCIL MEMBER BIOGRAPHY

Gail Reader gave a brief autobiography.

SENIOR ADVISORY REPORTS

Fort Collins Senior Advisory Board Report

Stan Ulrich reported that the Expansion Committee gave a report on their first official event which was quite successful.  The Board is working on a PowerPoint presentation to publicize itself.  Stan noted that they have elected new officers.  Cathy Martin is now the chair.  The Board will be meeting with the mayor at their next meeting.

 

Loveland Senior Advisory Board

Judy Jones reported that the Board met at the Sterling House at the Orchards, and 18 residents attended.  The Job Fair is scheduled for April 22 and there are several committee members involved with13-20 employers participating.  The committee is expecting a turnout of 500-1000 people. 

 

Foundation on Aging

No report given.

 

Larimer County Commissioner

No report given.

 

Human Relations Commission 

Elaine Boni reported that the Fort Collins Human Relations Commission is sponsoring a Community Conversation on Elder Abuse on Wednesday, May 20 from 6:30 until 7:30 P.M. at the Fort Collins Senior Center.  Joining with the Human Relations Commission in this effort are the Fort Collins Senior Advisory Board, the Larimer County Office on Aging Advisory Council, Alzheimer's Association, the Fort Collins Commission on the Status of Women and the Adult Protection Services of Fort Collins.  The conversation will explore the incidence of abuse and discuss the causes as well as make suggestions to detect, treat and prevent the abuse.  Programs already existing in the community will be explained.

 

Commission on Aging

No report given.

COMMITTEE & STAFF REPORTS

Community Outreach & Education Committee

No report given.

 

Media & Public Relations Committee

Marcy Greenslit reported that the committee is writing articles with hope that they will be published in May for Older Americans Month.

 

Planning, Funding & Partnership Development Committee

Ellen Pihlstrom reported that Margaret discussed budget scenarios and the stimulus package.

 

Public Policy & Advocacy Committee

Stan Ulrich reported that the committee is continuing to work on the problems at the Whispering Pines apartment complex.  Stan contacted Michelle, the dispatcher at Transfort about the change at Aztlan.  She stated that it has actually increased ridership.  Stan commented that the calling tree that Rene is conducting seems to be working, but wondered if council members are following through.  There was some discussion on how to track the follow-through of the Council.

 

Margaret stated that she has received letters from N4A seeking advocacy for increased Older American’s Act funding.  There is a form letter that can be adapted or just sent as is.  The request is for a 12% increase in Older Americans Act funding.  Margaret told the council that the county commissioners are on board, so the council can take a formal position.  It was recommended that the council support this legislation and have Helen sign as chair.  Stan recommended changing the letter to be no more than one page.  Earl moved that we support and have Helen sign the letter and include names of all the council members.  Nancy Arthur and Tim Dolan seconded the motion.  Motion was passed.  Helen and Stan will condense the letter, sign and provide the council member names.    

 

Staff Reports

Katy Mason reported that she will be writing a proposal for a $10,000 increase for the Senior Tax Work-Off Program from stimulus dollars that will be distributed by Health & Human Services.  Katy stated that the state has suspended the Homestead Exemption for at least two years and expects an increase in requests for the Senior Tax Work-Off Program. 

 

Lynette McGowan reported that the Loveland Reporter Herald had nice coverage on March 24 about the VOA Caring Companions Program.  This program is funded through the Colorado Trust.  As a result of the article, VOA received calls for volunteers and people who would like to be in the program.  Lynette distributed a brochure on the Powerful Tools for Caregivers training.

 

Linda Rumney reported that our intern, Becky Smyser, will be graduating in May with a degree in social work.  Currently, the Ombudsmen are working on outreach to the GLBT population through Project Visibility Trainings. 

 

Laura Sutherlin reported that she will be giving another presentation on long term care at the Family Medicine Center with Cheryl Smith from Options for Long Term Care at the end of April.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

There were no announcements.

 

ADJOURNMENT                                                     

Helen adjourned the meeting at 3:32 p.m.