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AARP Connecticut Outlines Priorities for 2024 State Legislative Session

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AARP Connecticut – advocates for age 50+ Connecticut residents and their families – works 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 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 2024 legislative session include advocating for policies that ensure nursing home residents receive a high standard of care; support family caregivers; strengthen protections around predatory lending practices; address the rising costs of utilities so all residents have access to fair and affordable services; ensure prescription drug prices are reasonable, justified, and support improved consumer access and affordability; address retirement tax programs; help older adults live safely and independently in their communities 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:

  • Ensure new staffing level requirements are fully funded and finalize regulations to increase the number of hours of care nursing home residents receive each day.
  • Prohibit nursing home administrative staff from counting toward direct care hours.
  • Enforce staffing standards. Facilities that do not provide the required three hours of care per resident per day should be closed to new admissions until they demonstrate that they can attain required staffing levels. Facilities should also be fined if they deliberately misrepresent their staffing levels in required reports or fail to post daily staffing levels as required by Public Act 19-89.

Connecticut’s 420,000 unpaid family caregivers, who provide an estimated 390 million hours of care yearly, assist their older parents, spouses, siblings, grandparents, and other loved ones every day so they can live independently in their homes – where they want to be. AARP calls on legislators to support these caregivers in two important ways:

  • Expand Connecticut’s paid sick days law so employees can use paid time off to care for spouses, siblings, children, grandchildren, parents, and grandparents. Current law permits eligible workers to use paid sick days to care only for children and spouses.
  • Explore ways to offset the financial costs of caring for a family member including caregiver tax credits or other reimbursement programs.

Alternative financial services such as pay day loans and their variant called “earned wage advances” are provided outside the traditional banking system. Providers of these products are disproportionately located in neighborhoods with a large proportion of Black and Hispanic/Latino residents, and they disproportionately strip wealth from these communities. They are also a major source of transactional and credit services for consumers with low and moderate incomes and people with heavy debt burdens or less favorable credit histories. “Earned wage advances” offer immediate pay for the hours already worked during a pay period. These products impose fees, interest, or other charges on workers. This leads to payment of effective interest rates similar to payday loans. Products may also contribute to chronic financial instability if borrowers become too reliant on them to meet expenses. As such, these products should be regulated as loans subject to state and federal law.

As utility costs continue to rise, a growing number of Connecticut residents – who already pay the highest electricity rates in the continental United States – will have to choose between food, medicine, and keeping the lights on. AARP 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; increase funding and expand eligibility for energy assistance programs above the current levels to meet the needs of residents already challenged by inflation; and oppose the weakening any of the strong consumer protections in the third-party electric supplier market.

Retirees and those close to approaching retirement make up 39% of the state’s population, yet their total economic contribution to the Gross State Product is 44%. AARP encourages lawmakers to address the policy on taxation of retirement income, such as continuing to gradually phase out the exemptions of retirement income 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 to age in place.

AARP urges legislators 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). PDABs, which already exist in eight states, are independent bodies established by the state to evaluate drug prices and (in five states) set upper limits on how much certain payors, including state agencies, will pay for high-cost prescription medications. Alternatively, Connecticut could establish upper payment limits based on other state’s PDABs or Medicare’s Maximum Fair Price.

AARP calls on lawmakers to help older adults live safely and independently in their communities. Being able to get where they need to go is extremely or very important to 85% of older Connecticut residents, and 55% are concerned about being able to afford to stay in their home as they age. Providing more transportation options, affordable housing, and safer streets can all make communities more livable for people of all ages.

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