090914-0426-uncorrected_-_compressedEveryone deserves a safe, secure retirement and the chance to age in their home if that is their choice. Mount Vernon is a wonderful place to live. Many people who moved here years ago still live here . My grandparents moved to Mount Vernon in 1941 and both had the good fortune to live in their home until they passed away because of the support provided by our family. However, with many families dispersed today, not everyone enjoys the same support.

In response to this need, community organizations such as Mount Vernon At Home have sprung up. These organizations minimize taxpayer burdens and provide flexible community-based support for our elderly. Virginia should help facilitate the start up of these organizations through targeted grants.

Additionally, skyrocketing property values and real estate taxes have caused some seniors on fixed income to be taxed out of their homes. While there are some tax abatement plans available, we can and should do more.

Finally, home health care workers also provide care functions to our elderly in their homes. Many are compensated by Medicaid at extremely low reimbursement rates and work as independent contractors with no benefits. Also, unlike other professions such as plumbers, HVAC technicians, or barbers, home health care workers are completely unregulated. This means there are no minimum standards in their profession. We should raise the quality of home health care by providing increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates, creating minimum standards for licensing, and creating a benefits pools so that home health care workers can obtain medical, dental, and workers compensation insurance at reasonable rates. All of these measures would improve the quality of workers and the care given to our elderly in their homes.

We must –

  • Support services by providing block grants that help seniors live independently with dignity.
  • Continue real estate tax exemptions and discounts for seniors.
  • Support caregivers, adult day care and respite care.
  • Expand seniors’ housing options in the community.
  • Work to establish licensing, standards, and benefit pools for home health care workers who are currently completely unregulated, underpaid, and poorly monitored.