January 5, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Lori Parham (207) 400-1026 firstname.lastname@example.org
Jane Margesson (207) 229-5628 email@example.com
AARP Maine Releases 2015 Legislative Agenda
Focus on health and financial security for Mainers 50+
PORTLAND: With the 127th legislative session just underway, AARP Maine is releasing today their 2015 legislative agenda which includes a focus on health and long-term care, consumer protections, financial security, livable communities and certain tax reforms. Of note is AARP Maine’s support of the proposals under the KeepMEHome initiative aimed at helping older Mainers age in place through increased affordable housing options for middle income seniors, property tax relief for older Mainers and increased pay for direct care workers.
Throughout the session, AARP Maine will track bills that impact Mainers 50+ and share ongoing updates with their more than 231,000 members statewide.
“AARP is expecting strong legislative leadership from both sides of the aisle in 2015 as the state addresses critical issues that affect 50+ Mainers and their families,” said Lori Parham, AARP Maine State Director. “It is critical that our legislature work together in the spirit of bi-partisanship to pass meaningful policy for all Maine residents.”
AARP Maine supports access to affordable, efficient long-term care services that promote consumer independence and choice. For example, AARP Maine will work to protect programs such as the Medicare Savings Program and Drugs for the Elderly, funds which are specifically designed to help low-income seniors and disabled adults. AARP Maine is also committed to ensuring that home and community-based services dollars that allow people to age in place are protected and increased.
Regarding health care, AARP Maine will work to ensure that Mainers living without health care coverage, including 16,500 aged 50-64, gain access to affordable coverage through the state’s option to expand Medicaid.
Another priority for AARP Maine is the achievement of increased support for family caregivers who are balancing work and family responsibilities.
“Most Mainers 50 and older have been family caregivers or expect to be in the future,” said Parham. “Given this large proportion of the population that is affected by this issue, it is not surprising that according to our most recent state survey, the vast majority of respondents think it should be a top or high priority for elected officials in Maine to fund services that support family caregivers.”
AARP Maine’s most recent state survey released just last summer showed that nearly three-quarters of Maine registered voters age 50 and older think funding services that enable seniors to remain in their homes for as long as possible should be a top or high priority for elected officials in the state. Nearly seven out of ten think it should be a top or high priority for Maine’s elected officials to support age-friendly communities by funding services, programs, or infrastructure changes that enable residents to “age in place.”
“Today, unpaid family caregivers provide the bulk of care for older Mainers, in part because the cost of long-term care remains unaffordable for most middle income families,” said Parham.
In Maine, almost 200,000 residents help their aging parents, spouses and other loved ones stay at home by providing assistance with bathing and dressing, transportation, finances, complex medical tasks like wound care and injections, and more. The annual value of this unpaid care totals approximately 2.3 billion dollars. (http://www.aarp.org/relationships/caregiving/info-07-2011/valuing-the-invaluable.html)
Regarding financial security, AARP is committed to ensuring that reforms made to state tax structures safeguard the financial security of the 50+ population. “As Maine addresses both the revenue and spending sides of the budget, a balanced approach is essential,” said Parham. In addition to raising sufficient revenue, AARP believes that state and local tax systems should follow the general guiding principles of equity, neutrality, administrative efficiency, and consistency with broader social goals.
In an effort to help Mainers safeguard their hard-earned savings and protect themselves from identity theft, AARP Maine supports a decrease in the current credit “freeze” charges.
Many Maine people are struggling to make ends meet and for retirees on fixed incomes, rising utility costs can become unmanageable. AARP will engage in legislative efforts that protect Mainers 50+ from unfair cost increases and will work to ensure that protections are in place to help facilitate financial security in retirement. "Affordable utilities are not only a pocketbook issue for seniors on fixed incomes, but often a health and safety issue as well," Parham stated.
“AARP Maine looks forward to working with Governor LePage and state lawmakers to ensure that Maine continues to be a place where people 50+ want to live, work and retire,” Parham said.