As a longtime resident of Maryland, I was delighted to speak at the recent Montgomery County Commission for Women’s Legislative Briefing on behalf of AARP’s nearly 870,000 members in the state.
Today, 2 million Marylanders–roughly one-third of the state’s population—are over the age of 50. More than 800,000 people are over the age of 65. And Maryland, like every state across this country, is getting older. By 2030, 1.2 million people, nearly 18% of the population, will be 65+.
The aging of Maryland – and the aging of our communities – brings great opportunities and great challenges. Although AARP has an expansive advocacy agenda, there are two issue areas that AARP Maryland will be particularly focused on: and both are especially important for women across the state.
The first is on retirement security. Today, 47 percent – nearly half – of Maryland workers do not have access to a retirement plan through their employer. That is why AARP is supporting “Work & Save” legislation – often referred to as Secure Choice in Maryland. This legislation would give small business owners with more than five employees the opportunity to offer a retirement plan to their employees – through a trust that is managed by the state. It’s a very similar to the concept behind 529 college savings plans. This proposal is a win-win – it could give nearly a million more people a chance to save for their future, AND it comes at no cost to employers or the state.
Illinois was the first state in the nation to pass such legislation in late 2014. There is a real opportunity for Maryland to be a national leader in providing real, attainable options for retirement savings.
The second issue is caregiving. Roughly 3 in 4 people have been caregivers, or they are preparing to be family caregivers. About 770,000 family caregivers in the state of Maryland contribute unpaid care valued at an estimated $8.1 billion. While men are often involved in providing care, most family caregivers are women – in fact, the average family caregiver is a 49-year-old working woman. AARP is working across the country to advance policies and laws that support caregivers. This isn’t a Democratic issue. It’s not a Republican Issue. It’s a FAMILY issue.
Family caregivers have a huge responsibility, and we can take some common sense steps that would make a world of difference for them. For example, in Maryland, we are promoting the CARE Act – which helps family caregivers get information and training they need before the person they care for is discharged from the hospital. Last year, the law was signed by Governor Chris Christie in New Jersey and Governor Mary Fallin in Oklahoma. And wouldn’t it be wonderful if Maryland could be next?
AARP Maryland looks forward to working with Governor Hogan and the new legislature to enact these policies, and to make Maryland a great place for people of all ages.
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Watch Nancy LeaMond address the 2015 Women's Legislative Briefing in Rockville, MD: