Archive for July, 2006

Alaska Planning Checklist

The checklists aren’t well-presented but do offer some good ideas. Even though the web address (URL) is a dot com, this is a state of Alaska website. Here’s some ideas for pet preparedness.

http://www.ak-prepared.com/plans/mitigation/dogs_cats.html

[see previous Older people in disasters and humanitarian crises: Guidelines for best practice]

Lifeline offers cheap calling (Alaska)

Interesting article about the program in Alaska. [Previous, New Eligibility Rules for Lifeline and Link-Up Support on Tribal Lands]

http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/story/8021962p-7914995c.html

PHONES: Dollar a month activates cellular service for those qualifying.

By LISA DEMER, Anchorage Daily News, Published: July 30, 2006

Lifeline at a glance

• One subsidized phone service is allowed per household; it can be either a cell phone or land line, but not both.

• People can qualify if they already participate in public assistance programs such as Medicaid, Denali KidCare, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, food stamps, the Supplemental Security Income disability program, the free lunch program, public housing and others. So can individuals with incomes at or less than 135 percent of the poverty line. In Alaska, a family of four with an income under $33,750 would qualify.

• Dependents generally don’t qualify. A college student with no income who is claimed on the parents’ tax returns wouldn’t be eligible but one who’s financially independent with a low-paying part-time job would be.

• All local phone companies in Alaska provide the service for land lines; four wireless companies also provide it, with others applying for approval from the Regulatory Commission of Alaska.

• FOR MORE INFORMATION: Call the consumer protection office of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska at 276-6222 or 1-800-390-2782 or your phone company.


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AMERICAN INDIAN AND ALASKA NATIVE LONG TERM CARE CONFERENCE 2006

ELDERCARE@LISTSERV.IHS.GOV

AMERICAN INDIAN AND ALASKA NATIVE LONG TERM CARE CONFERENCE 2006

Honoring our Elders: Best Practices in Long Term Care

Come join us in Tulsa, Oklahoma in Honoring our Elders, Second Annual American Indian and Alaska Native Long Term Care Conference on September 18 & 19, 2006. [deadline]

Native Americans have strong family ties, traditions and a desire for independence. The rural environments where many Native Americans live are not conducive for traditional home health care models. (C. Jameson, 2006 Abstract)

This conference highlights best practices in long term care for American Indians and Alaska Natives, come and learn from the people that are making long term care work in urban and reservation communities for AI/AN Elders. Find out how to develop comprehensive services for Elders and the Disabled.

LTC Conference offers an opportunity to: form new partnerships; get new ideas; learn about Aging services and how to make it accessible for Elders; start a long term care program in your community; get family members together to plan for the well-being and safety of their Elders; or when Elders require care in urban settings due to proximity of hospitals, incorporating cultural practices and communication in the health care setting to alleviates homesickness, while assisting the Elder to become more accepting of the needed care.

The founding philosophy of the American Indian and Alaska Native Long Term Care Conference is: To honor our Elders, by learning from each other to successfully make long term care a reality in Indian Country.

Confirmed Plenary Speakers: Dr. Charles Grim, IHS Director, Ms. Carol Kelly, CMS, Chief Chad Smith, Cherokee Nation, Bill Thomas, Eden Alternative/Green House Project, Connie Bremner, Eagle Shield Senior Center,

Attend the virtual site visit for the Cherokee Nation s Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly, (PACE), Luncheon Network Sessions and much, much more.

For more conference information and registration materials please visit,

www.aianlongtermcare.org


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Bethel fuel sales tax corrected

Ordinance 06-05, to amend the sales tax code to provide an exemption for senior citizens’ heating fuel, was finally passed on 2006 July 25. The vote was 4 to 2 and 1 abstention. For, Hugh Dyment, Tundy Rogers, Andy McGowen, Mary Kenick. Against, Thor Williams, Dan Leinberger. Abstain, citing conflict of interest, David Trantham.

The ordinance was originally submitted in February 2006 by Councilor Trantham and again by Councilor Rogers. Hearings occurred at the March 28, April 11, April 25, June 13, and July 25 council meetings. The delay in action was a result of examining the costs of modifying the exemption (by the finance committee) and the request by several councilors to have the ordinance re-written. The ordinance was not re-written and was finally voted upon.

The finance department estimated that perhaps 85 people would take advantage of the exemption. A limited ad hoc survey found elders can be paying $350 to $600 per month for 75 to 100 gallons (coldest months). The City might lose $14,700 in annual tax; seniors might save $173 per year.

It should be noted —

  • as the finance department notes, there are no data on who might use the exemption and how many gallons of fuel oil (diesel) would be involved
  • 75 to 100 gallons a month seems like a lot of fuel. The amount depends primarily on the quality of housing and heating. For older people who are enrolled tribal members, their tribe or tribal housing consortium has a trust responsibility to ensure adequate housing

The finance committee recommended unanimously against the ordinance because it might result in requests for special treatment or exemptions from other groups and individuals. Churches were used as a specific example. Therefore, correcting the fuel oversight would result in a drain on City finances.

Councilor Dyment promised to create an ordinance for the next council meeting, which would cut $24,000 from other City services because of the senior exemption.

It should also be noted —

  • the ordinance corrects an oversight in the existing municipal code which grants a recognition to older Bethel people, because they are older, and is not means tested
  • some, but not all, churches currently have a city government subsidy (reduced garbage fees).
  • sales tax income is not guaranteed income for budgeting purposes
  • as the price of fuel goes up, the number of gallons sold tends to decrease. Why cut $24,000?
  • this is not the first time that the elderly have been blamed for City deficits

Exemptions and subsidies do subtract from potential City income. As you can see below, elders’ exemptions are only R, S, and T of the alphabet list. There was no data presented as to the financial hit of senior exemptions out of the total exempted sales tax income. If the issue were one merely of tax income and city spending, then perhaps all exemptions should be revoked, not just the ones for older people.

Certainly, the illegal exemptions should be revoked first.
[ORDINANCE #04-28, AN ORDINANCE AMENDING SECTION 13.16.010 OF THE BETHEL MUNICIPAL CODE TO REMOVE CHURCHES FROM A MONTHLY FLAT RATE OF $45.00 TO A RESIDENTIAL SERVICE RATE WITH A FLAT RATE OF $12.00. Introduced by: City Manager Herron Date: November 30, 2004
Public Hearing: January 11, 2004, Action: Adopted
Vote: 4-2 (Rodgers, Dyment)
ENACTED THIS 11th DAY OF JANUARY, 2005 by a vote of 4 in favor and 2 opposed. Hugh Dyment, Mayor]

Initially, the Finance Director said eight churches would qualify; then eleven. But there are 16 announced places of worship in the newspaper. And there are other organizations with Federal tax exemptions as churches.

The Supreme Court has held that “[t]he First Amendment mandates governmental neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion.” Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97, 104 (1968).

This principle of neutrality “is part of our settled jurisprudence” and “prohibits government from abandoning secular purposes in order to put an imprimatur on one religion, or on religion as such, or to favor the adherents of any sect or religious organization. ” Texas Monthly, Inc. v. Bullock, 489 U.S. 1, 8-9 (1989) (plurality opinion) (quoting Gillette, 401 U.S. at 450). According to the text of the ordinance, the purpose for allowing churches to receive the same rates as residences for solid waste collection is that “churches are not like an ordinary business for profit” and “churches receive gifts and donations (not revenue), so Chapter 13.16.010 of the Code should charge churches with the lowest charge for solid waste services so as to treat churches fairly.”

Although government may provide a benefit to religious organizations without violating the Establishment Clause, the government must either provide this benefit to both religious and non-religious organizations that meet the same neutral criteria or the benefit must lift a substantial burden on the exercise of religion. Here, it is extremely unlikely that the commercial charge of $45 for solid waste collection places a substantial burden on the exercise of religion.

Thus, the ordinance can only be justified if it is extended to non-religious organizations as well. While it is true that residential dwellings receive the lower rate, if the city is going to extend the lower rate to churches, it should also extend the same rate to nonprofit organizations because the same rationale that was put forward for allowing churches to pay the lower rate (they do not have any revenue) would also apply to nonprofit organizations. Now, it may be the case that Bethel has no nonprofit organizations, which is why they were not included in the ordinance.

The Supreme Court has also held that providing a government benefit to one religious denomination while denying it to another constitutes an unconstitutional preference for one religion over others. See Bd. of Educ. v. Grumet, 512 U.S. 687, 706-07 (1994) (“whatever the limits of permissible legislative accommodations may be, it is clear that neutrality as among religions must be honored”).

Fuel oil sales tax was overlooked in the city codes which provide —

4.16.040 Exemptions.
R. The sale to a senior citizen of food intended for consumption by the senior citizen, his or her spouse living in the same household, or the unemancipated minor children of either the senior citizen or his or her spouse, who live in the same household. The senior citizen shall display at the time of the sale a current and valid senior citizen exemption certificate issued to the person under Section 4.16.050C of this chapter. For purposes of this subsection, “food” is defined in accordance with 7 U.S.C. 2012(g) (definition of “food” for purposes of the Food Stamp Act);
S. The payment of rent by a senior citizen on a single dwelling occupied as the senior citizen’s primary residence and permanent place of abode. The senior citizen shall provide proof at the time of payment of a current and valid senior citizen exemption certificate issued to the person under Section 4.16.050C of this chapter;
T. Payment for telephone, electric, water sewer utility services by a senior citizen on a single dwelling occupied as the senior citizen’s primary residence and permanent place of abode. The senior citizen shall provide proof at the time of payment of a current and valid senior citizen exemption certificate issued to the person under Section 4.16.050C of this chapter;

There is an additional credit —

13.16.070 Senior citizen credit.
A.
Any Bethel citizen at least sixty years of age residing in their own household shall receive up to a twenty-five-dollar monthly utility credit, if they are the primary source of income, after making application for such at the city utilities office.

B. All other Bethel citizens at least sixty years of age that do not meet the conditions of subsection A of this section shall receive up to a ten-dollar monthly utility credit after making application for such to the city utilities office.

C. Each residential unit shall be limited to one credit application. (Modification 2 of Ord. 85, 1980: prior code § 11.16.080)


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NIH Hot Weather Advice for Older People

NB — Alcohol and heat can kill, whether weather-related heat or from spas, hot tubs, or steam / maqaq (steambaths or saunas).

From: NIH news releases and news items On Behalf Of NIH OLIB (NIH/OD)
Subject: KEEP IT COOL WITH HOT WEATHER ADVICE FOR OLDER PEOPLE

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH NIH News National Institute on Aging (NIA)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, July 24, 2006

CONTACT: Anne Decker, 301-496-1752, nianews AT mailDOTnih.gov

Older people are at high risk for developing heated-related illness because the ability to respond to summer heat can become less efficient with advancing years. Fortunately, the summer can remain safe and enjoyable for everyone who uses good, sound judgment.

Heat stress, heat fatigue, heat syncope (sudden dizziness after exercising in the heat, heat cramps and heat exhaustion are all forms of “hyperthermia,” the general name given to a variety of heat-related illnesses. Symptoms may include headache, nausea, muscle spasms and fatigue after exposure to heat. If you suspect someone is suffering from a heat-related illness:
Continue reading ‘NIH Hot Weather Advice for Older People’

Elder-Mentor programs gearing up in Bethel

There are three Elder-Mentor programs gearing up in Bethel, at the Bethel Ayaprun Elittnaurvik Elementary School, the ME Elementary School, and at the High School. The program at Bethel Ayaprun Elittnaurvik Elementary is expected to start in fall 2004.

For more information on Elder-Mentor opportunities in Bethel, contact Kelly Powell, Site Supervisor, or Agatha John-Shields, School Principal, at (907) 543-1645.”

http://www.mentoringak.org/bethel.shtml retrieved 2006-07-17

About the Project

The Alaska Mentoring Demonstration Project is a collaborative initiative between the Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies of Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Southeast Alaska , Boys and Girls Clubs and the National Senior Service Corps in Alaska, formed to expand successful mentoring programs to youth in remote communities all across the state. The benefits of mentoring include increased self-confidence, improved performance at school, reduced risk for substance abuse and violence, improved family and peer relationships, and a stronger sense of the future. “


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Comments sought on Alaska Medicaid revision

It is important for everyone to examine the proposed changes. Previously, the governor pushed the Medicaid program in rural areas off onto the tribal health consortia. The reasoning was that tribes receive higher rates of Federal refunds for Medicaid recipients than does the state. Therefore, to save money for the state, Medicaid programs would be transferred.

The result, however, was that even long-term service providers had to close. Public services were consolidated into a single agency. Tribal agencies are restricted to providing services for only certain residents, i.e., only to registered recipients of member tribes. However, for only some services, non-members can receive health assistance. Non-members have no representation in the agency’s or health corporation’s governance. Thus, the state dropped its responsibility to all rural citizens; the tribal organizations had to assume the state’s role and the extra work of NGOs (and the extra costs of re-structuring)… Overlap and inefficiencies should be avoided in most cases; however, complementary services, citizen representation, and alternatives to monopolies are also valuable. The question is how to best balance everything.

Note carefully, workshops will NOT will get closer than Fairbanks to rural Alaska. Neither will the hearings.

The proposed regulations are 350 pages and contained in a PDF file.

The state Department of Health and Social Services is taking public comment on comprehensive restructuring of regulations governing Alaska’s Medicaid program.
Continue reading ‘Comments sought on Alaska Medicaid revision’


O’Folks (off their rocker)

Old age isn't a disease.

Arctic sunset

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