Jackson Calls for Master Plan on Aging Californians

February 07, 2019

SACRAMENTO –As California’s aging population continues to grow with significant numbers struggling to access essential care, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) introduced legislation today to develop a master plan for aging Californians.

The bill calls for an “Aging Czar” appointed by the Governor to lead a 15-member task force that would work with stakeholders and state agencies to identify the policies and priorities necessary to prepare California for its growing aging population. The task force would include representation from consumers, health care, long-term services and supports, labor, transportation, housing, government, and historically overlooked communities.

Senate Bill 228 sets out the following preliminary goals for the Master Plan:

o          Expand access to coordinated, integrated systems of care

o          Strengthen access to long-term services and supports

o          Prepare families to plan and pay for long-term services and supports

o          Support California’s family caregivers

o          Increase access to oral healthcare

o          Develop affordable housing options

o          Enhance access to transportation

o          Develop a culturally-competent paraprofessional and professional workforce

o          Prevent exploitation and abuse (financial or physical) of older adults

o          Streamline state administrative structures to improve service delivery

The Public Policy Institute of California estimates that California’s older population will nearly double by 2030, bringing an increase of 4 million people over the age of 65. California is currently unprepared to care for this growing and increasingly diverse demographic.

“California’s aging population is growing quickly and living longer. Without adequate services and planning, many of our state’s older adults face a risk of becoming homeless or losing access to essential care,” said Senator Jackson. “We cannot afford to leave our aging adults behind. California must step up and prepare for this rapidly growing population.”

Twenty percent of California’s older adults live in poverty, and this number is expected to increase with the aging of the state. Despite the programs and services administered by a range of state departments, families struggle to weave together services and financial care in the hope of helping loved ones remain at home.

In their 2015 report “A Shattered System: Reforming Long-Term Care in California,” the Senate Select Committee on Aging and Long Term Care identified a number of system challenges to long-term care, including system fragmentation, lack of access to services, workforce challenges and cultural competency, and a crumbling infrastructure. SB 228 calls for the Aging Czar to work with the task force to examine and address these challenges to the lives of California’s aging population.

Jackson represents the 19th Senate District, which includes all of Santa Barbara County and western Ventura County.