Older Adults See Gains and Suspense as Colorado Legislative Session Closes

By Kathryn White

These and other bills of concern to older Coloradans were passed by lawmakers during the recent Legislative Session. Some await Governor Jared Polis’ signature.

• Modernization of The Older Coloradans’ Act, signed by governor

• Dementia Training Requirements CD PHE Department of Health Care Policy and Financing Rules, sent to governor

• Health Facility Visitation During Pandemic, sent to governor

• Electric and Gas Utility Customer Protections, sent to governor

• Increasing Safety in Assisted Living Residences, sent to governor, at risk of veto

“Overall, I think this was an important, consequential session for Colorado’s older adults,” said Rich Mauro, the director of legislative affairs at Denver Regional Council of Governments. He noted an Area Agency on Aging (AAA) grant fund that will now exist indefinitely, with its uses expanded to allow more services to qualify for funding and grants to entities beyond AAAs.

“Another is HB 22-1205,” Mauro said. “It establishes a one-time tax credit for those over 65 who do not qualify for the Senior Property Tax Exemption. This includes renters.”

Mauro also mentioned SB 22-154, which concerns improving safety and the quality of care in assisted living residences. “Unfortunately—inconceivably—the governor is considering vetoing the bill,” he said. “It was a huge fight with the industry during the session and they have asked for the veto.”

Coral Cosway, senior director of public policy and advocacy for the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado, said the organization is “excited” to see new training requirements for dementia care in residential communities that will become law soon.

“With an estimated 40% of those living with dementia served by residential care facilities, this bill helps ensure staff are adequately prepared to provide the best possible care,” Cosway said. “Beyond SB 22-079, we’re heartened to see more funding than ever for the long-term care industry to, among other things, increase wages. Like others, we urge Governor Polis to sign SB 22-154 into law.”

Allison Hiltz, a state advocacy manager for AARP Colorado, said it was a big year for older Coloradans in the Legislature.

“In addition to the Modernization of the Older Coloradans Act, lawmakers tackled issues that are critical to our members, such as affordable housing, pension funding, and consumer protections.”

Governor Polis did sign SB22-154 after this interview was conducted.


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