AARP Eye Center
By Catherine Taylor
Advocating for Rhode Islanders 50+ at the state and federal levels is a critical part of AARP’s mission to empower people to choose how we live as we age.
To that end, I am very pleased to report that AARP Rhode Island achieved important victories in the 2023 Session of the General Assembly. These many improvements in fraud prevention, Medicare, prescription drugs, affordable housing and livable communities will make thousands of lives better in our state. They are:
- Gift Card Fraud Protects consumers from gift card scams by requiring retailers to post a notice warning how con artists impersonating a business or government agency invent phony charges or sweepstakes winnings and demand expedited payments via a gift card.
- Medicare Supplement Insurance Policies - Standards for Policy Provisions Ensures that Rhode Islanders 65 years of age and older applying for Medicare supplement plans are guaranteed coverage regardless of existing medical or health or care.
- Accident and Sickness Insurance Policies-Specialty Drugs Helps lower drug costs by capping a 30-day supply for prescription epinephrine auto injectors (epi-pens) at $35 and not subject to any deductible.
- Housing Production Encourages development of affordable housing for low-income families by creating the Housing Production Revolving Fund is through the issuance of $50,000,000 in housing bonds.
- Tenant and Landlord’s Rights Guide Defines clarity and protections for both tenants and landlords by requiring the Secretary of Housing to create a written guide for consumers relating to their rights and duties.
- Towns and Cities-Zoning Ordinances Expands housing supplies by supporting the conversion of commercial property into residential or mixed-use developments allowable by specific and objective provisions of a zoning ordinance.
- FY24 Budget Appropriations for Priority Programs Provides funding for two key programs benefiting 50+ Rhode Islanders! $250,000 added to the Livable Home Modification Grant Program, which provides low-interest loans for home improvements benefiting caregivers and those for whom they provide care. And $250,000 is appropriated to the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC, known in Rhode Island as The POINT) so that people will know, from a trusted source, where to find information on long-term care and support.
- Transit-Oriented Development Pilot Program Creates a transit-oriented development pilot program will encourage residential housing near convenient public transportation making neighborhoods more livable.
- Nurse Licensure 2 Compact Addressing nursing home staffing shortages by allowing nurses to hold a multi-state license so that they may practice across state lines without having to obtain multiple licenses.
- Substitute Teaching/Teacher’s retirement Permits retired teachers and substitute teachers to exceed the 90-day cap on post-retirement employment if certain conditions are met, allowing retirees to work more and expands hiring options for schools facing teacher shortages.
I would like to thank and congratulate the members of AARP Rhode Island’s Advocacy Volunteer Team who are largely responsible for this success on your behalf. The team works hard on Smith Hill lobbying legislators and testifying in hearings, in concert with the virtual support of hundreds of our 128,000 Rhode Island members who sign petitions, send emails to lawmakers and post committee testimony urging passage of specific bills. You might also find advocacy volunteers at community events informing the public on matters before the Assembly and how they will affect you.
I am proud of our team and the results they have delivered for Rhode Islanders 50+.
If you’d like to get involved in our work at the State House next year, contact Matt Netto, who leads AARP Rhode Island’s advocacy efforts. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or give him a call at (401) 248-2660.
Catherine Taylor is State Director of AARP Rhode Island.