The 2018 Maryland General Assembly has come and gone once again! While we are disappointed that we weren't able to get Maryland's HB 1194 - Drug Cost Commission bill passed in the final moments of the session, Marylanders have a lot of big "wins" to be proud of...and can thank our hard-working volunteers for making it happen!
Read our state director's note about the major victories for 50+ Marylanders and their families this legislative session. Thank you to all who worked hard to pass some great legislation this year!
The Maryland Senate has *passed* the Maryland Nursing Home Protection Act, thanks in part to the heartfelt testimony of AARP Advocacy Volunteer & Executive Council member Clay Hashimoto. The bill now moves to the House. Proof that EVERY voice matters!
February Legislative Update
We're officially past the halfway point of the 2018 Legislative Session and are seeing great momentum thanks to the dedication and involvement of our volunteers. Our efforts to help rein in the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs are making headway. Here's a short update on what you should know:
You could be paying more for your prescriptions because the pharmacist is not allowed to tell you how to get it cheaper! AARP testified in support of Senate Bill 576/House Bill 736: Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM)—Information on Sales, which removes a “gag” order on pharmacies. The bill was voted out of committee unanimously – so we are well on our way to helping Marylanders keep their prescription costs lower as a result!
Continuing our fight for affordable drug costs, AARP Maryland Advocacy Volunteer Jim Gutman of Prince George’s County, who has a background in prescription drugs, testified in support of SB 1023/HB1194 Health – Drug Cost Review Commission. This bill requires a creation of Commission to review excessive price increases for brand name and specialty drugs. We were in the Senate Finance Committee more than five hours before Jim was called to testify! The chairperson only gave Jim two minutes to make his point. He had four pages of testimony and spoke with clarity and expertise—the committee members were definitely impressed.
Did you know that Baltimore City is the only jurisdiction in the state that forecloses on property for failure to pay water and sewage bills? For that reason, AARP Maryland prepared, submitted and presented testimony in support of HB 1409: Baltimore City - Tax Sales of Real Property - Water Liens ( Water Taxpayer Protection Act). We have had volunteers working on this issue in the City for a number of years. HB 1409 repeals the authority of the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore City to sell real property solely to enforce a lien for unpaid charges for water and sewer services. The hearing was held and the bill received an unanimous vote from the Committee. This was another victory for Marylanders 50+ and their families! We'll have more updates as the last few weeks of the Maryland General Assembly wraps up in March and early April.
January 2018 summary: The first few weeks of the 2018 Legislative Session are now in the rear view mirror! More than 1,200 bills were introduced in the House and Senate in January and AARP Maryland is reviewing them now. Our advocacy director has noted many of this year's bills center around health and retirement savings, as well as utility bills related to broadband. Our Delegation Fridays in Annapolis have been a huge success, and we've gotten to meet some new faces and introduce them to volunteering with AARP. One of our newer volunteers even got to interview U.S. Senator Ben Cardin about issues affecting veterans! Watch the interview.
Listen below to our first-ever AARP Maryland podcast! The first topic is AARP's priorities during the legislative session and the role of volunteers:
AARP Advocates spoke...we listened. View the results of our 2018 Legislative Priorities Survey and a special message from AARP Volunteer State President Jim Campbell.
FROM THE PRESIDENT OF AARP MARYLAND:
With more than 890,000 members statewide, AARP Maryland is the voice of the 50+ in your community. We are working to support family caregivers, promote retirement security, and achieve affordable and reliable utilities for all Marylanders. During the 2018 primary and general election season, we will work to make sure that candidates for state and congressional office are paying attention to the pocketbook issues that affect the health and quality of life for all of us. To succeed, we need the help of people like you.
- Meet with local lawmakers to share concerns and priorities.
- Testify before legislative committees.
- Attend candidate forums and town halls.
- Become part of our digital army to spread the word on social media.
Together, we can create Real Possibilities® right here in Maryland.
Volunteer State President
AARP advocates on policy issues that matter most to Marylanders age 50 and over and their families. In our state legislative advocacy, we rely on our hundreds on volunteers and 890,000 members across Maryland.
Here are AARP Maryland's top legislative priorities for 2018 and beyond:
Earned Sick and Safe Leave
Forty percent of private-sector workers in Maryland are unable to earn paid sick days, meaning they are more likely to go to work sick and more likely to delay medical care. That is why AARP Maryland will fight to overturn the governor’s veto of legislation passed by the 2017 General Assembly, which would require Maryland employers to provide earned sick and safe leave. The bill outlines how earned leave would be accrued by the employee and treated by the employer. It also requires that an employer allow an employee to use earned leave and provides for sick leave usage for eldercare—a provision that is especially helpful for those who are family caregivers.
Elder Abuse and Exploitation
AARP will support legislative proposals to protect our most vulnerable Marylanders aged 50-plus from abuse and exploitation.
Maryland Prescription Drug Affordability Initiative
Name-brand and specialty drug prices are rising at double the pace of any other health care spending category and 15 times greater than the rate of inflation—and many Marylanders are struggling to keep pace. AARP supports legislation banning industry gag rules that prohibit pharmacists from telling consumers about less costly drug options. The bill also requires drug manufacturers to provide notice and justification for new expensive drugs or large price increases for existing drugs; and creates a Maryland Prescription Drug Cost Review Commission to establish payment rates for expensive drugs that create significant affordability issues for Marylanders
Maryland Teachers and State Employee Pension Sustainability
AARP Maryland supports the recommendations of the Benefit Sustainability Commission to restructure benefits, provide longer service and vesting requirements, and increase contributions from current employees. AARP also supports measures calling for the state to meet its contribution for sustainability.
CONSUMER AND PERSONAL RIGHTS
AARP Maryland is working to ensure that all Marylanders have access to vital communication services—including reliable and affordable landline and cellular phone service—as well as broadband (high-speed internet).
Gas and Electric Surcharges
AARP advocates for consumer protections for utilities customers, including fighting new or increased surcharges, to ensure affordable and reliable gas and electricity.
AARP is committed to protecting consumers from predatory water bill collection practices, such as potentially losing one’s home in a residential tax sale due to of late payment.
How can you get involved?
Advocate for Maryland: Sign up to become an AARP advocate and you will receive email action alerts on issues you care about: aarp.org/getinvolved
Volunteer with Us: Use your talents, knowledge, experience and time to help make life better in your community! We offer a variety of volunteer opportunities. Fill out our online volunteer interest form or call toll free 866-542-8163 for more information.
Keep Up to Date:
Get the latest news and information about AARP efforts and events on our state web page.
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