Another Unanimous Vote Sends Kiki Saavedra Senior Fund to House Floor

The Kiki Saavedra Senior Dignity Fund Act, sponsored by House Health and Human Services Chair Debbie Armstrong and a top priority of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, unanimously passed the House Appropriations and Finance Committee on Friday afternoon and will now go to the full House for a vote.

“This fund is to innovate and incubate senior programs above and beyond what the Department of Aging and Long Term Services already does to support seniors,” said Armstrong who previously served as secretary of the department. “We can never do enough to honor our elders, but we can always do better. Creating this fund will reflect New Mexico values by investing in seniors, family and independent living.”

HB 225 appropriates funds for the Department of Aging and Long Term Services to develop new programs that could include involving VISTA volunteers in senior home care; developing “greenhouse” senior living, which provides nursing-home-level care in a more home-like environment; and supporting grandparents raising grandchildren. As the bill moves through the legislative process, the amount of funding that is appropriated is subject to change, but there is money in the budget currently to support the fund.

“We are working within the budget process to create the Kiki Saavedra Senior Dignity Fund and to ensure that it receives the funding it needs and that it fits in with the overall budget for the state,” Armstrong said.

Community support for the fund is strong. AARP New Mexico, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, the National Indian Council on Aging and Health Action New Mexico are among those supporting the bill.

“The Kiki Saavedra Senior Dignity Fund has strong support from around the state because it has the potential to improve the lives of people in every community,” Armstrong said. “From honoring tribal elders to helping seniors who live in big cities, the programs created by this fund will change lives and ensure dignity for our seniors.”

About Rep. Armstrong: Debbie, Chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee, is a long-time health care advocate serving her second term in the New Mexico House of Representatives. Having started her career as a physical therapist, she has worked extensively as a health care administrator, working 10 years with Presbyterian Medical Services in Santa Fe. Prior to serving as Secretary of New Mexico’s Aging and Long-Terms Services Department, she oversaw the department’s Consumer and Elder Rights Division. Debbie is the mother of three adult children. She lives in Albuquerque’s North Valley.  Follow her on Twitter @NMRepArmstrong and on Facebook, and sign up for email and text updates.

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Paid for by Debbie Armstrong for New Mexico, Jill Riester, Treasurer

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