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WYO Legislature Will Measure State’s Aging Toolkit

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 By Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY, Contact
December 13, 2010

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - A one-stop shop has been tested in some areas of Wyoming since 2005. It's a place where people can take their questions about services and care options as they age or face a disability. During the upcoming legislative session, lawmakers will look at whether to keep that network of Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC) in place.

Aging Division administrator Ginny Mahoney says they would like to expand the network statewide, because it has been well-received in communities where it has been offered.

"People realize it definitely fills a lot of needs in terms of service-providing and information and referrals - all different kinds of areas that are important for people with aging and disability needs."

The network hooks people up with providers - for housekeeping, personal care or health care - and then coordinates the services. Mahoney calls it 'unbiased,' because they do not work on behalf of companies that provide services. The project operated as a pilot for a few years and then continued under a grant, but that money runs out in 2012.

State Sen. Marty Martin (D-12) is sponsoring a bill to keep the network running and extend its reach to every corner of the state, including a website and toll-free line. He says his constituents like the system, and points to 43 other states that have similar networks because they are cost-effective.

"It's important that we are able to provide those services, because it allows folks the ability to make decisions on their long-term care options."

Debbie Walter, the lead grants manager for the ADRC, says the network allows people to remain in their homes, which is a top request she hears when families face aging and disability issues.

"This will reduce confusion for them, and stress, as well as save money because they're not going to be going from place, to place, to place."

Martin is proposing $500,000 for the network. He sponsored a similar proposal in 2009. It didn't succeed, he says, in part because of state budget concerns.

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