AARP New Hampshire’s Advocacy Director delivered this testimony yesterday on SB 313, which creates the New Hampshire Granite Advantage program.

Members of the Senate Finance and Health and Human Service Committees:

AARP has approximately 230,000 members age 50-plus statewide. AARP supports SB 313 which creates the New Hampshire Granite Advantage program which will provide needed medical care to those who cannot afford medical insurance. This includes those who need support to deal with the opioid and heroin crisis New Hampshire is experiencing.

There are many adults aged 50-64 that are currently receiving medical care under the New Hampshire Health Protection Program. Many are working and many others are caregivers for parents, spouses and others. For those who are providing that care, they need affordable health care to continue their caregiving role. For people aged 50-plus, the options for health care are more limited based on cost due to age.  And those who are caregivers may not be working full time and eligible for provider-based health care.

We believe that the language in section 126 AA: 2 III(d) (3) of the amendment is too narrow to provide for the needs of caregivers of elderly parents and adult spouses with disabilities. Chapter 167:82 I(d) provides an exception for a parent or caretaker relative who is 60 years of age or older.

We believe caregivers deserve at least the same consideration. We also believe that the requirement in RSA 167:82(g) that requires a caretaker to be in the household does not reflect the reality of families where caregivers aren’t always in the household, because there are multiple caregivers required to keep someone at home and out of institutional care or even off of Medicaid entirely.

We would propose the following amendment:

(3) A parent or caretaker as identified in RSA 167:82, II (d) and (g) where the required care is considered necessary by a licensed physician, APRN, board-certified psychologist, physician assistant, or licensed behavioral health professional who shall certify the duration that such care is required, provided that caretakers over 50 years of age caring for adults with disabilities need not be in the same household.

 For those who are taking care of spouses and parents with forms of dementia, the caregiver is critical is keeping people at home and out of nursing homes at a significant savings to the state. According to the Valuing the Invaluable study completed by AARP in 2015, 173,000 Granite Staters provide $2.3 billion in care to Granite State residents every year.

We are concerned that the exceptions to the work requirement which are from the New Hampshire Employment and Family Assistance Program do not adequately address older caregivers who are caring for aging parents or spouses with dementia including early onset Alzheimer’s where the caregiver is too young to be on Medicare but cannot afford health care.

AARP welcomes the inclusion in the list of qualifying exemptions those caregivers, who support those who are enrolled in certain home-and community-based services (HCBS) programs or who might be without the support and caregivers. We are happy to work with the committee to address this issue. Thank You