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AARP AARP States Virgin Islands

AARP Virgin Islands Outlines 2024 Legislative Priorities

AARP Virgin Islands - Advocates for All Virgin Islanders

AARP Virgin Islands focuses on policies and solutions that make the territory a great place to live for people of all ages.

Advocates for Virgin Islanders

On behalf of our more than 20,000 members in the Territory, our 2024 priorities include supporting family caregivers, enhancing fraud protections, simplify strengthen protections around fraud practices, simplifying the probate system, ensuring fair prescription drug prices, and urging legislation that will make our territory a great place to live for people of all ages.

"Our primary focus revolves around addressing the critical challenges confronting our Territory, and we implore our lawmakers, as well as private and public agency stakeholders, to develop policies aimed at fostering a safe, affordable environment for living, working, and retiring in the Virgin Islands," emphasized State Director Troy de Chabert-Schuster. "We are dedicated to relentlessly pursuing remedies that safeguard our members and their families, enhance the Virgin Island's health and caregiving infrastructure, and champion essential initiatives that bolster the financial security of Virgin Islanders. Ultimately, our aim is to empower Virgin Islanders to age gracefully while retaining their independence, autonomy, and control over their lifestyles as they grow older.”

To effectuate change in these areas, AARP Virgin Islands has key advocacy priorities, including:

  • Fraud and Anti-Elder Abuse
  • Caregiving
  • Anti-Ageism
  • Healthcare
  • Prescription Drug Monitoring

Elder abuse is a complex problem with myriad presentations: from neglect by family caregivers, to serial financial abuse by professional predators, to late-life domestic violence, to sexual assault and more.
AARP Virgin Islands continues to urge:

  • Passage of anti-elder abuse legislation that will create the Territory’s first adult abuse registry
  • Modify the authority of Adult Protective Services in the emergency treatment of older adults
  • Establish an effective monitoring system to track elder adult abuse cases
  • Mandate fraud prevention and awareness training for law enforcement officers and advocates·
  • Establish a multi-disciplinary adult protection team to combat elder abuse in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

AARP VI continues its committed efforts urging our Senators to pass the Uniform Guardianship, Conservatorship, and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act (UGCOPPA) in the territory.

UGCOPPA would ensure continuity, choice, and agency to guardians and those receiving care. Under UGOPPA, tailored plans become travelling documents which ensure benefits and preferences outlined by guardians and those receiving care are respected, regardless of location. Furthermore, the Uniform Guardianship code ensures that people under protective orders retain some rights and independence, thus lessening opportunities for abuse.

Given the critical need for healthcare workforce development, social workers, and telehealth programs AARP urges legislators to:

  • Pass the Social Work Licensure Compact which will fully ensure uniform staffing standards in training, licensure and background checks are met by all social workers and home care workers.
  • Fund the Mobile Integrated Health Program which empowers the Department of Health to change the way healthcare is delivered in the Virgin Islands, particularly to the benefit of the most vulnerable populations: seniors and shut ins.

Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) are state-run electronic databases designed to track controlled substances, vital for identifying overdose risks and maintaining patient medical history.

Despite their importance, the Virgin Islands lacks a PDMP, unlike 49 states, the District of Columbia, and 2 US territories.

To address this gap, AARP initiated a campaign in 2023 to establish a Territory-run PDMP, aligned with efforts to combat opioid misuse. This follows support for legislation establishing the Opioid Abatement Fund Committee (ACT 8694) in 2023. As of December 2023, a bill draft request has been submitted, expected to be introduced in late Q2 2024.

AARP urges local Senators to ensure prescription drug prices are reasonable and affordable, promoting improved consumer access. One solution is establishing a Prescription Drug Affordability Board (PDAB), akin to those in eight other states, to evaluate drug prices and set upper limits. Alternatively, the Virgin Islands could adopt upper payment limits based on other state PDABs or Medicare's Maximum Fair Price.

To combat ageism, AARP calls on elected officials to eliminate or amend biased laws targeting individuals based on age. Specifically, AARP advocates for the amendment of the VI Taxi Commission’s policy, excluding those over 65 from taxi driver positions.

This exclusion results in millions of dollars in lost income for older individuals, impacting their participation in the tourism and public transportation sectors. A positive step has been taken with the Senate's drafting of an amendment to remove arbitrary age limits for taxi drivers' initial hire.

AARP advocates for non-government workers to have access to public-private retirement savings accounts, addressing the retirement savings gap. Work and Save legislation would expand retirement savings options for self-employed or small business workers, ensure portability and flexibility of savings, and facilitate voluntary employee participation through automatic deductions.

Passing this legislation is crucial for Virgin Islanders to achieve financial security in retirement, enabling them to age independently and thrive in our paradise territory.

AARP calls on lawmakers to help older adults live safely and independently in their communities. Providing more transportation options, affordable housing, and safer streets can all make communities more livable for people of all ages.

About AARP Virgin Islands
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