— 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, …

— Imagine this: Your 90-year-old mother lives in a nursing home. You arrange for her to spend a holiday weekend with the family. But when you return to the nursing home, her bed is gone. That scenario could have been reality with a proposed change to the Medicaid system for Fiscal Year 2012, in which nursing home leaves of absence, commonly called “bed hold,” were targeted for elimination. AARP Massachusetts State Director Deborah Banda recently testified at the State House in …