RELEASE: Legislation Introduced to Increase Access to Senior Services

AB 540 Will Help Seniors Remain in Their Homes

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO — Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris has introduced Assembly Bill 540 which will help thousands of California’s growing population of seniors remain in their homes and in our communities, by improving beneficiary awareness and access to the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE).
PACE is designed to provide care for California’s frail population as an alternative to institutionalized care. PACE programs coordinate and deliver preventative and long-term care services to the elderly who would otherwise be in nursing homes, so they can continue to live and thrive in their communities. PACE is the only provider-based model of care where a single entity is entirely responsible for the delivery, outcomes and cost of care. Eligible beneficiaries must be 55 years or older and state-certified to qualify for nursing home care. Program recipients receive all of their services through a one-stop-shop PACE center, while still residing in their community, which is shown to improve mental and physical health. There are currently 65 PACE sites across California, serving nearly 12,000 frail seniors.
“Seniors shouldn’t be forced to say goodbye to their communities in order to stay healthy and safe as they age,” said Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach). “PACE allows older adults to remain in their home and near their loved ones, while still guaranteeing their wellbeing and safety as they age. Investing in programs we know work and that have proven results just makes good sense. AB 540 is a commonsense measure that ensures seniors have access to all their options, including PACE, when choosing a plan that is best for them.”
Even though PACE is a model of care for frail seniors, many beneficiaries are unaware of PACE eligibility and how it may benefit them. Most of the enrollment occurs through individual referrals from community sources including hospital discharge planning, senior housing, AAA's and other sources. As a result, many seniors with higher needs could benefit from direct state engagement and referrals for PACE services.
“PACE provides a safer, better, and less expensive alternative to nursing home care but many who could benefit from our work don’t know about it,” said Peter Hansel, Chief Executive Officer at CalPACE, the state association for PACE providers. “This bill will help patients and their families make the best choice for their care needs. Instead of navigating complex medical systems, clients can enroll with us and receive individualized care plans while remaining in their communities.”
AB 540 will ensure seniors have access PACE programs by streamlining the Department of Health Care Services’ engagement processes and referrals for PACE services.
“CCoA supported the expansion of integrated care models like PACE in our recommendations for the Master Plan for Aging.  By requiring PACE programs be offered as a Medi-Cal or Medicare benefit, this bill will give more vulnerable individuals access to this highly effective service,” said Ellen Schmeding, Chair of California Commission on Aging. 
“We need to help frail Californians get the care they need when family caregivers need help,” said Donna Benton, Director of the Family Caregiver Support Center at the University of Southern California. “Family caregivers balance many roles and we need to simplify how they find the help they need when they are not available.”
“By keeping people out of institutions and in their communities, PACE helps Californians age with dignity,” said Marty Omoto, Founder and Director at the California Disability-Senior Community Action Network. “We need to expand community-based care models, like PACE, that work with people and families to ensure that loved ones receive the care they need. That requires taking the necessary steps in this bill to ensure Californians know this care option is available.”
“Many seniors enrolled in PACE are diagnosed with dementia and the majority of dementia cases are caused by Alzheimer’s Disease,” said Susan DeMarois, Director of Public Policy at the Alzheimer’s Association. “PACE helps people live with dignity by enabling them to keep their relationships intact through long-term home and community-based care. Change can be especially stressful for those living with degenerative brain diseases and the ability to delay or prevent institutionalized care is often ideal.”