June 27, 2007
The bill passed Tuesday adopts a sliding scale of benefits relative to the applicant's income level, rather than keeping the benefit at $120 per month, as the former SeniorCare program did. In this version, an individual's household income that does not exceed 75 percent of the poverty level (federal poverty guideline, or FPG) would receive $250 per month; at 75-100 percent of FPG they would receive $175; and 100-175 percent of FPG would receive $125 per month. SB 4 does not include any asset limitation. It also ends the prescription drug benefit of SeniorCare, and would serve an estimated 8,800 seniors. Projected cost of the new program is $19.4 million annually.
"It is heartening to me that we have been able to come to agreement on how to design a Senior Benefits program that provides that extra little bit of assistance to seniors who need it," said Sen. Lyda Green (R-Wasilla), President of the Senate. "Even though the state treasury may be flush with surplus revenue at the moment, we would not be fiscally prudent if we did not recognize that surplus will not last. I believe the Senior Benefits program we passed today is responsive to that fiscal reality."
"Alaska's commitment to our elders should never have been in doubt, and in my mind it never was," said Rep. John Harris (R-Valdez), Speaker of the House. "The quick passage of the new Senior Benefits program attests to that fact. We look forward to Governor Palin completing this process with her signature."
The bill includes an immediate
effective date, making it law the next day after the Governor
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