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Bill for respite care passes committee — with a catch

March 5, 2010

(Updated March 5, 12:16 pm)

For the time being, it appears that money from the Citizens’ Election Program won’t be used to re-open the statewide respite care program to new applicants after all.

The Joint Committee on Human Services voted to remove section 2 of HB 5111 Tuesday before passing it, which would have transferred $2.3 million from the CEP to DSS for the respite care program. This program affects residents with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia-related illnesses and their caregivers.

The vote was not unanimous – 15 voted in favor, 3 opposed, and one legislator was absent.

Rep. Toni Walker (D-New Haven) says the issue is not so much about the Alzheimer’s respite care program but about how to fund the budget as a whole. The bill has been referred to the Appropriations Committee, who will decide whether to fund the program. Walker, who is also a member of the Appropriations Committee, says no firm date has been set to vote on the budget.

“It’s not really appropriate for us to find out where the funding comes from,” Walker says, referring to the Committee on Human Services. “I wanted the issue to be very clear that we were supporting the Alzheimer’s program. I didn’t want any hidden agendas. When we got the bill, there were a lot of people in support of the Citizens’ Election Program and the Alzheimer’s respite program but didn’t want them in the same policy.”

Beth Rotman, Director of the Citizens’ Election Program, was pleased with the outcome.

“The Commission appreciates the serious financial circumstances facing Connecticut now, and we understand that legislators need to look everywhere for funding,” Rotman says. “However, fully funding the state’s public financing program represents an investment in the future of Connecticut and a commitment to returning democracy to the people.”

The Appropriations Committee is divided into 13 subcommittees, so HB 5111 ‘s next stop is to the Human Services subcommittee, which Sen. Edith Prague (D-Columbia) chairs. The subcommittees will go through legislation and submit a report to the committee chair. Once the chair gets all the reports back, a date will be set, and the vote will take place.

In addition to the respite care program, there are several other bills Appropriations will consider from legislators, Walker says.

“Once we come up with a budget, that’s where we’ll figure out where everything will be funded,” Walker says.

If you have any questions about this post or need help finding senior-care options for a loved one, call 1-866-483-4896 to speak with a care advisor in your area.

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