AARP 2015 State Legislative Session Priorities
The age wave is here. By 2030, one out of five Washingtonians will be age 65 plus, up from 12 percent today. It’s time to prepare for this huge demographic shift. AARP recommends smart budget and policy measures to take pressure off future state budgets and create a more age-friendly society. Four important areas to focus on in 2015:
Long Term Care: Get Ready for Rising Demand - Most people are uninsured for long term care. Medicare covers only short-term time limited services, private long term care insurance is expensive or non-existent and Medicaid requires people to be impoverished to qualify for the services they need. To help families struggling to care for loved ones, the 2015 legislature should:
- Build support for passage of the CARE Act’s goals in 2016 including identification and training of family caregivers by hospitals to prevent costly hospital stays.
- Ensure money from the Community First Choice Option supports the Family Caregiver Support Program.
- Support a third-party study on alternative public and private long term care financing options.
Financial Security: Encourage Individual Savings - Washington is facing a retirement savings crisis. A recent National Institute on Retirement Security study found that the average household had only $3,000 in retirement savings. Such low savings rates endanger the financial security of individuals as they retire, but also the State’s Medicaid budget which could explode if personal savings rates do not improve. To help people prepare for a secure retirement, the 2015 legislature should:
- Encourage saving by making it easier for small businesses to offer workplace retirement and savings accounts. (Work and Save proposed legislation called STaRT)
- Oppose reductions to promised benefits for current state pensioners. Oppose moving to defined contribution schemes. Retain traditional defined benefit pensions for future retirees.
Vulnerable Adults: Strengthen Protections - Reports to Adult Protective Services (APS) of adult abuse, neglect and financial exploitation are rapidly increasing. In the past five years, investigations have increased by 25 percent while APS staffing grew by just 9 percent. To ensure a timely and effective response, the 2015 legislature should:
- Increase penalties for crimes against and financial exploitation of vulnerable adults by supporting changes to the current penal code.
- Reform APS to ensure improved support for victims, training for investigators and screening for capacity.
- Fully fund the partners in abuse response, including the Long Term Care Ombudsman and the Office of Public Guardianship.
Joint Legislative Executive Committee on Aging and Disability - In 2013, AARP Washington advocated for the creation of a Joint Legislative Executive Committee on Aging and Disability to set strategies for the aging population.
- Advocate for the statutory authority for the work of this committee to continue.
- Share findings from committee’s final report.
About AARP Washington -AARP Washington represents the interests of nearly 1 million people age 50+ in Washington State. We serve our members through a range of outreach, information and education programs in addition to advocacy on state and federal issues.
Contact: Cathy MacCaul, Director of Advocacy 206-517-2324 email@example.com