Meals on Wheels funding is left up to the counties
RECENTLY, concerns about funding for Lanakila Meals on Wheels have raised the public's awareness of this vital service. Newspaper articles and television news stories have pointed to a "state funding issue" affecting the ability of the program to serve the growing number of seniors needing assistance (Star-Bulletin, July 3 and 7
Media reports left out the point that the state's Executive Office on Aging distributes state and federal funds to county Area Agencies on Aging through the Kupuna Care program in accordance with state and federal guidelines. The decisions for funding of specific programs, such as Meals on Wheels, are handled by the counties.
In fiscal year 2007, more than $1.1 million in state and federal funds was available for the Lanakila Meals on Wheels program. State funds included $106,334 from Act 262, passed by the 2006 Legislature.
The signing of Senate Bill 1916 (Act 204) by Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona (as acting governor) on June 21 provides an additional $475,000 in FY 2008 and $525,000 in FY 2009 to expand Kupuna Care in-home services. These funds will be divided among all four counties, which ultimately decide on funding to individual programs.
Kupuna Care is a state-funded long-term program created to meet the needs of older adults who cannot live at home without adequate support from family and/or formal services. The program provides in-home and community-based services including adult day care, assisted transportation, attendant care, case management, chore services, homemaker services, home-delivered meals and personal care.
To be eligible for Kupuna Care, an individual must be a U.S. citizen or legal alien, 60 years of age or older, not covered by any comparable government or private home and community-based services, not reside in an institution, and have a physical and/or mental impairment.
The City and County of Honolulu's Elderly Affairs Division ultimately decides how much funding senior services on Oahu, such as Meals on Wheels, receive.
The state will continue to support Honolulu's EAD in every way possible, but the decisions to allocate funding are rightfully left with the county.
Susan Jackson is deputy director of the state Department of Health.