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AARP Connecticut Outlines Priorities for 2023 State Legislative Session

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AARP Connecticut – advocates for people 50-plus in Connecticut and their families – will work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to support legislation and issues that make our state a great place to live for people of all ages.

“Our priority is to work with legislators on the important issues facing our state and urge all sides to create policies that make Connecticut a more affordable place to live, work and retire,” said AARP Connecticut State Director Nora Duncan. “It is vital we seek solutions that will keep more money in the pockets of our members and their families; address the massive price hikes in necessary utilities; and protect critical safety net programs residents depend on to maintain independence, choice and control over how they live as they age.”

Priorities for the 2023 legislative session include a focus on reinforcing policies that provide nursing home residents a high standard of care; strengthening protections to prevent financial exploitation; tackling the rising costs of utilities so all residents have access to fair and affordable services; ensuring prescription medication prices are reasonable and affordable; addressing retirement tax programs; and more.

Nursing home residents deserve the highest standard of care, and taxpayers deserve accountability for the state Medicaid funding that supports the nursing home industry. AARP urges legislators to:

  • Enforce staffing standards by prohibiting nursing homes from admitting new residents if they are not providing three hours of care per resident per day as required by law. Facilities should also be fined if they deliberately misrepresent their staffing levels in required reports or fail to post accurate daily staffing levels as required by state law.
  • Improve funding transparency, such as requiring nursing facilities to provide uniform “plain language summaries” of the cost reports they submit to the Department of Social Services (DSS).
  • Require all related parties that are identified in facility cost reports to disclose an audited financial statement.

In addition, AARP Connecticut calls on legislature to act on the Homemaker Companion Task Force recommendations and continue to fund valuable programs such as the Connecticut Statewide Respite Care Program and the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders.

AARP is committed to protecting seniors from financial exploitation and has been at the forefront of advocacy in support of federal and state laws and regulations that prevent these forms of abuse. AARP Connecticut, a member of the coordinating council of the Coalition for Elder Justice in Connecticut, is deeply immersed in community outreach and education via the AARP Fraud Watch Network. AARP encourages policymakers to build on the Connecticut Uniform Power of Attorney (POA) Act, which curbs elder financial abuse, and strengthen existing protections to prevent additional financial crimes.

As utility costs continue to rise, a growing number of Connecticut residents – which already pay the highest electricity rates in the continental United States – will have to choose between food, medicine, and keeping the lights on. AARP Connecticut urges legislators to make reforms in the generation market to lower the cost of standard electric service offered by the state’s two electric distribution companies. We also call on lawmakers to increase funding and expand eligibility for energy assistance programs above the current levels to meet the needs of residents already coping with the economic impacts of the pandemic and continue to be challenged substantially by inflation.

AARP urges federal and state government to ensure prescription drug prices are reasonable, justified, and support improved consumer access and affordability. One way to accomplish this is through the creation of a Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB). A PDAB is an independent body established by the state to evaluate drug prices and set upper limits on how much certain payors, including state agencies, will pay for high-cost prescription medications. Alternatively, the Board could adopt upper payment limits established by any other state or federal entity.

Retirees, and those approaching retirement, make up 39% of the Connecticut’s population, yet their total economic contribution to the Gross State Product is 44%. AARP encourages lawmakers to address “tax cliffs” by adjusting the policy on taxation of retirement income. With a “tax cliff,” older adults become ineligible for the tax exemption on retirement income if they earn even one penny of income over the cutoff (currently $75,000 for an individual and $100,000 for a married couple) in any given year and can face a significantly higher tax liability than their gain in income. This can be addressed by exempting all income or gradually phasing out the exemption so that an additional penny of income does not result in losing thousands of dollars in exemptions. Reducing the tax burden on older residents can help ensure they have the financial security needed for Connecticut to be where they age-in-place.

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