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News Jan 8, 2013 - 10:38:29 AM

AARP announces advocacy agenda for 2013 legislative session

By AARP Connecticut

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Hartford, CT - AARP Connecticut is kicking off the 2013 Legislative Session on Wednesday with free coffee* and urging legislators and policymakers to “Get to Work” on key issues critical to residents age 50 and older. The Association released Monday its advocacy agenda for the Connecticut 2013 Legislative Session.

“AARP Connecticut is working to help residents age 50 and older live life to the fullest by fighting for them on critical priorities, such as protecting state safety net programs, helping people stay in their homes and communities as they age, saving seniors money on their utility bills, and ensuring access to quality, affordable health care” said AARP Connecticut State Director Nora Duncan. “There’s no doubt we have a challenging agenda ahead, but AARP looks forward to working with state legislators and the Governor to help improve the quality of life of those age 50 and older and their families.”

AARP legislative priorities emphasize approaches that maximize federal funding, save the state money in the long term and maintain health and economic security for adults age 50 and over and their families. AARP Connecticut’s 2013 legislative priorities include:

Protecting the Safety Net

With the threat of a major State budget deficit looming in 2013 and beyond, our top focus during the upcoming legislative session will be protecting the most vulnerable older residents from budget cuts to programs that they depend on. AARP’s focus will be on programs that allow older residents to remain independent and age with dignity in their own homes.

Maximizing Home and Community Based Care

Home care services help keep people out of nursing homes, allowing them to remain independent longer and ultimately saving the state millions of dollars in Medicaid costs. 89% of older adults in Connecticut prefer to receive care at home, rather than in a nursing home. Yet, the Nutmeg State continues to spend a disproportionate share of its Medicaid long-term care dollars on more costly nursing home care.

AARP will advocate for consumer choice in the state long-term care system by requiring that a higher percentage of funding go to home and community based supports for older people and adults with physical disabilities rather than institutional care. We will also advocate for enhancements and tools that facilitate consumer choice and allow individuals and caregivers to find and navigate their long-term care options. AARP supports utilizing federal financial incentives as part of the Affordable Care Act to improve access and broaden the options available.

Supporting Family Caregivers

AARP also supports options for caregivers, including legal and system reforms, as well as respite programs that give caregivers a break. More than 700,000 family caregivers contributed an estimated $5.8 billion in free care in Connecticut in 2009. When family caregivers are supported, they are better able to continue providing free care, reducing the cost of both public and private services. Research also shows that having a family caregiver can prevent unnecessary hospitalizations, and prevent or delay nursing home use among care recipients.

Ensuring Energy Affordability

For older individuals, particularly those living on fixed incomes, utility expenditures become a larger portion of the household budget as rates increase. In restructured retail energy markets residential consumers should be ensured that standard offer service is always available at stable, predictable, and affordable prices. Suggestions to tie standard offer service to short-term wholesale market prices or other pricing strategies should be rejected. AARP will carefully scrutinize efforts to fund new energy programs through ratepayer fees and fight any unnecessary cost-shift to low-income and older consumers.

Protecting Basic Telephone Service

In 2012, AARP Connecticut fought efforts to deregulate the telecommunications industry in Connecticut and a provision that would have made it easier for companies to drop basic telephone service. AARP opposes legislation that would unfairly deregulate or restructure basic telephone service; and will work to oppose or mitigate all proposed increases in utility rates for consumers. AARP supports programs to ensure vital telephone assistance programs like Lifeline for low-income customers.

Defending State Property Tax Credit

In 2012, the State Legislature passed a budget that reduced the state property tax credit for homeowners from $500 to $350. AARP will advocate to ensure residents 50+ are financially better able to maintain their homes and receive much needed relief from Connecticut’s regressive property tax system that disproportionately burdens older residents.

Expanding Access to Quality, Affordable Health Care

AARP will continue to work with legislators and the Governor to effectively implement provisions of the new federal health care law in Connecticut, including the Connecticut Health Exchange, to ensure that all residents have access to affordable, quality health care.

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