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AARP AARP States New Jersey

2024 AARP New Jersey Priorities: Implementing New Laws that Support NJ’s 50+

RetireReady NJ, StayNJ, Prescription Drug Affordability Council and Presumptive Eligibility

AARP Supports:

Start-Up Funding for the Secure Choice Savings Program (RetireReady NJ)
Today, a secure retirement is out of reach for millions of Americans, especially those who work for themselves or small businesses. Half of all households are at risk of not affording everyday expenses in retirement.

The average Social Security benefits for a 65+ family is only about $18,000 a year, while older American families on average spend $20,000 a year on food, utilities and health care alone. While Social Security is a critical piece of the puzzle, it is not enough to ensure people can live independently as they get older.

AARP supports continued start-up funding to launch RetireReady NJ. Personal savings is an essential part of a secure retirement. New Jerseyans are 15 times more likely to save when they can do so at work; yet, more than 1.7 million private-sector workers in New Jersey can’t save for the future out of their regular paycheck. To address this serious problem, NJ enacted the Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program in 2019, a state-sponsored, public-private partnership to help workers save for their retirement.

RetireReady NJ will allow private sector workers an affordable, voluntary and portable retirement savings program that puts them in control of their futures. Workers will have the choice to decide if they want to participate and how much they want to contribute from their paycheck. Small business owners will become more competitive because they will now be able to access a retirement savings option for their employees at no cost to themselves or their bottom lines.

The implementation of Secure Choice will create an easy pathway for workers to grow their savings and prepare for a more secure financial future that meets their life needs.

Full Funding for the StayNJ Property Tax Relief Program
AARP’s mission is to empower people to choose how they live as they age, and an important part of choosing how we live is being able to choose where we live. Seventy-seven percent of people 50 and older want to age in their own homes; however, New Jersey’s high cost of living – including the highest property taxes in the nation – has made it unaffordable for far too many.

New Jersey’s affordability crisis has hit older residents who live on low, moderate and fixed incomes particularly hard. Forty-one percent of New Jerseyans age 50 and older have considered leaving New Jersey, with 83% of these residents saying they are likely to do so in search of lower taxes and a lower cost of living.

To help older adults stay in their homes and communities, Governor Murphy signed legislation in June 2023 to establish the StayNJ property tax relief program, which will go into effect in 2026. StayNJ provides transformational property tax relief, which is vital for older residents who are struggling to afford rising prices on everything. It will provide a 50% tax credit of up to $6,500 for homeowners who are 65 and older with incomes less than $500,000.

By passing StayNJ, the Governor and NJ Legislature made a commitment to helping older adults remain in their homes and communities and a commitment to making New Jersey a great place where we can afford to grow up and grow older. The Governor and Legislature must ensure the program is fully funded and ready to go into effect in 2026.

Implementing the Prescription Drug Affordability Council
High prescription drug prices hit older Americans particularly hard. According to a Fairleigh Dickinson poll commissioned by AARP, more than two out of three New Jersey voters 50 and older are concerned they won’t be able to afford the prescriptions they need in the future. Too many Garden State residents are forced to choose between life-saving medications and paying rent, buying food and meeting other critical needs.

In July 2023, Governor Murphy signed legislation to establish a New Jersey Prescription Drug Affordability Council. The Council is charged with making actionable recommendations to the Legislature and Governor that make prescription drugs more affordable.

The Council will establish data reporting requirements for the prescription drug supply chain and require the Division of Consumer Affairs to issue an annual report on emerging trends in prescription drug pricing. Previously, no state entity was responsible for understanding drug prices and whether the prices were justified and reasonable.

The sooner the Council is up and running, the closer we are to ensuring prescription drugs are more affordable and accessible for New Jersey residents.

Implementing Presumptive Eligibility for Home and Community-Based Services
New Jersey’s older residents deserve quality, affordable care at home. However, too many can’t afford to pay out-of-pocket for this care, and they’re left waiting for months before their Medicaid application is approved and services start. But now, this waiting period will be reduced thanks to Governor Murphy enacting legislation in January 2024 to expedite the application process.

The law allows residents who are likely to qualify for Medicaid to begin receiving services in their homes when they need them. It’s critical that the state implements and modernizes the Medicaid approval process for home and community-based services so older residents can age with dignity in their homes and not be forced into taxpayer-funded nursing homes. This is a step toward helping older residents receive the services they need where and when they need them.

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