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2005 Testimony

Testimony Before The Senate Finance and Taxation Committee

SB 2315 - Homestead tax impact on senior citizens and people with disabilities

February 8, 2005

Chairman Urlacher and members of the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee, I am Linda Wright, Director of the Aging Services Division, Department of Human Services. I am here today at the request of Senator Syverson to provide information about services which enable older persons and persons with physical disabilities to remain in their own homes and communities.

The Aging Services Division administers a number of federal and state funding sources which provide a variety of home and community based services. The purpose of the services is to assist eligible individuals to remain as independent as possible in their own homes and communities for as long as possible, thereby delaying or preventing institutional care. Please refer to the attached brochure for more information.

The cost per client per month of the home and community based services programs administered by the Aging Services Division are as follows:

a) Service Payments for Elderly and Disabled (SPED) $403.74
b) Expanded SPED $299.46
c) Medicaid Waiver for Aged and Disabled $1,278.87
d) Medicaid Waiver for Traumatic Brain Injury $2,447.99
e) Older Americans Act
(transportation, outreach, home delivered meals)

The cost per client per month listed above does not include other in-home costs such as medical care, subsidized housing, economic assistance programs, etc. The average cost of nursing home care per month is $3,545.14 and the average basic care cost per month is $924.74.

In most cases, it is more cost effective to provide services which enable an individual to remain at home, rather than enter institutional care.

According to the 2002 North Dakota Needs Assessment of Long-Term Care, conducted by UND and NDSU, "priority needs to be given to legislative efforts in the form of program incentives and tax incentives for home and community based services. Elderly who are in greatest need for services reside in the states rural areas and small communities. These areas lack facilities, resources, and professional staff. The communities need to be empowered to take a more active role in caregiving. Program incentives and tax incentives that create or enhance the care of elderly in the home or through community based efforts will reduce the demand for institutional care and, in turn, the financial burden on the state."

According to the 2000 census, 75% of persons over age 60 in North Dakota lived in elderly households as compared to 25% who were renters. Based on our most current information, 55% of the clients who receive home and community based services are homeowners compared to 45% who are renters.

The 2000 census also reported that 44,634 persons ages 21 to 64 years old in North Dakota had a disability. The population age 65 and older included 36,276 people with a disability.

The results of a 2004 AARP North Dakota member survey are as follows:

  • "Three in five AARP members are extremely concerned with staying independent as they age and over half are extremely concerned with having choices in long-term care."
  • "More than nine in ten AARP members rate having a range of support services available in their community to be very or somewhat important."

If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them at this time.


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