by Annmarie Timmins, New Hampshire Bulletin
It’s uncertain whether ServiceLink, the state’s overwhelmed one-stop resource center for aging and disability services, will get the nearly $3 million annual increase proposed in a bipartisan Senate bill.
In the meantime, the Department of Health and Human Services is asking the Executive Council to invest an additional $273,000 in federal and state money in ServiceLink’s Aging and Disability Resource Center in hopes of meeting an increase in demand and re-establishing in-person operations, as well as client assessment and coordination of community services.
“Without these necessary services, thousands of our most vulnerable residents may go without support,” Lori Weaver, interim commissioner, wrote in a request expected to go before councilors Wednesday.
The additional money would allow ServiceLink to help an additional 22,500 people annually, Weaver wrote.
The funding, nearly 87 percent of which would come from federal pandemic aid, would connect eligible individuals with services that allow them to remain at home, out of an institution, or return home after a discharge. The money would be used to recruit and retain staff, cover increased operating costs, and increase technology to offer services virtually.
Senate Bill 36, which remains tabled in the Senate, called for a multi-million investment to develop and coordinate a system of care for healthy aging for older residents and those with disabilities. Advocates told lawmakers the resource center is so underfunded, disjointed, and overwhelmed, that those who need services can’t get them.
The Senate scaled back the proposed funding significantly to about $1.7 million before tabling the bill in March. Senators could still include the initiative in its version of the state budget before sending it to the House.
This story was written by Annmarie Timmins, a senior reporter at the New Hampshire Bulletin, where this story first appeared.
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