— By Cathleen MacCaul, Advocacy Director, AARP Washington This session the House and Senate both have slim Democratic majorities in Olympia, changing committee leadership and impacting the kinds of bills that move forward. There are many challenges facing lawmakers including large investments in school funding, along with increased spending for housing and mental health.  Additionally, the state may have to quickly respond to federal decisions impacting health programs under the Affordable Care Act like continued funding for CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance …

— By Vanessa Ho Every weekend, Mark Diimmel goes out for dinner and a movie with his sister, who often takes him to get Chinese or Italian food, or maybe burgers and a milkshake. Diimmel, 64, has schizophrenia and lives in an adult family home in Bremerton, paid for by Medicaid and Social Security. But the outings have become more difficult. Everything costs more, while his personal-needs allowance—the amount of income Diimmel is allowed to keep for himself—has remained the same, …

— By Vanessa Ho Life improved dramatically for Barbara Flagg about a year ago, when her son-in-law bought her a pair of hearing aids—a $3,000 investment Flagg couldn’t afford herself. Suddenly, she could hear her friends in a noisy dining room. She could follow the conversation at the senior council meetings she attended. Best of all, she could connect with her children and grandchildren. “Even if they were talking about football or baseball or … concerts, I was part of the …