Republican State Auditor Dave Vaudt is restating his concerns about the state’s Senior Living Trust Fund. The fund was created in 1999, to be used to help convert more nursing home space around the state to assisted living apartments and to pay for in-home nurse visits to help seniors stay in their own homes as long as possible.
Vaudt says there’d be more than $600 million in the fund today if legislators from both parties hadn’t repeatedly dipped into the account to cover other expenses. According to Vaudt, the money in the Senior Living Trust Fund has been used on state government programs that have little to do with seniors, like the $50 million withdrawn this year to spend instead on the state’s "Grow Iowa" economic development program.
"The real key behind the Senior Living Trust Fund was to provide services to seniors at home so that they could stay at home longer and avoid going to institutional care which is obviously a more cost-effective way to provide those services," Vaudt says.
House Speaker Pat Murphy, a Democrat from Dubuque, blames Republicans for dipping into the fund almost as soon as it was created and using the money for other purposes. Democrats who now control the legislature set aside $263 million this spring to replentish the Senior Living Trust, but that’s not enough according to Vaudt.
Vaudt says the Senior Living Trust Fund has turned into a sort of revolving line of credit for lawmakers, but no bank would accept the terms with which lawmakers have been repaying what’s been taken out of the fund.