HB 1 and 2 Hearing
Senate Finance Committee
May 9, 2013
My name is Claira Monier and I am testifying today on behalf of AARP and its 227,000 members and their families statewide. There are several provisions of this budget that we support and believe are critical for those 50+ in New Hampshire.
First, we support the reinstatement of the caregiver support funds for Alzheimer’s and related disorders in the FY 2014-2015 budget. We believe that support of family caregivers is critical to keeping adults with disabilities and people as they age, safely in their homes and communities. Over the longer term, maintaining people in their homes and communities will minimize the pressures on the Medicaid program.
We are pleased to see that funds for home- and community-based services have been preserved. Especially in these difficult economic times, it is important that we continue to support services to keep seniors in their homes and communities.
Another critical component of the budget is the continued support for the ServiceLink network which has caregiver support specialists in each county and uses the caregiver support funds to help family caregivers in their communities. ServiceLink is a vital service for the long-term care needs of Granite Staters and adults with disabilities.
As the health insurance benefits marketplace develops in New Hampshire, it is critical to provide our citizens information and support to access the Health Insurance Marketplace. Providing support to local community groups in New Hampshire who our citizens typically reach out to for information on issues like these is of utmost importance. We ask that you support the NH Insurance Department’s request that you amend HB 1 to include the approximately $5 million in funding that has been awarded to the state to support consumer assistance related to health insurance and premium tax credits that will available through NH’s health insurance Exchange Marketplace. This grant funding will support both public education and one-on-one assistance for the people of NH.
Maintaining local control over these activities will allow the state to tailor these programs to meet the needs of people in New Hampshire. Obviously people in Washington won't be able fully understand or respond to the needs of Granite Staters. We learned during the implementation of Part D of Medicare that people look to their trusted sources of information in local communities like the ServiceLink network. We believe the process of helping people access the federal Health Insurance Benefits Marketplace will be complicated and require local help, at least in the first year of operation. If any of you have had to sign up for Medicare, like I have or helped someone else, you will appreciate how complicated the process is. We know that people will go to places like ServiceLink to get help, so it is important to provide local New Hampshire entities, like ServiceLink with the support they need to help people.
AARP hopes that New Hampshire will take advantage of over $5 million in grant funds to help the New Hampshire Insurance Department and our local entities provide the Support to the people of New Hampshire than solely relying on the federal government to respond to the needs of Granite Staters for the support and coordination of helping people get on the marketplace/exchange.
This budget also supports the expansion of Medicaid in New Hampshire under the Affordable Care Act. We support this because many people between the ages of 50-64 are deeply concerned about having affordable health care as they age. Expanding Medicaid will help approximately 18,000 50 to 64-year-olds who have lost their jobs or are struggling without health benefits, but don’t currently qualify for Medicaid health coverage.
As people age, changes to their physical health can make driving more challenging. New Hampshire is an aging state and more residents will be looking for ways to travel that do not require them to drive a car. Over 90% of AARP New Hampshire members have expressed their support for expanding transportation options so the people who no longer drive can stay independent and avoid isolation.
We encourage funding enhanced transportation and mobility options to reduce the demand on our roads and bridges to allow non-drivers to stay connected to their communities.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak with you today. I would be happy to answer questions.
Claira Monier, Goffstown