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Any Massachusetts voter can now cast a no-excuse mail ballot after Gov. Charlie Baker signed an AARP-backed bill designed to make voting easier.

The new law also extends the voter registration window by 10 days and expands early voting with mandatory weekend hours. Registered voters will automatically receive a mail ballot application before every election, including this year’s Sept. 6 primary and Nov. 8 general elections, unless they’ve already requested a mail ballot. Many of these changes were temporarily enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic, but those provisions expired in 2021.  

“Older Massachusetts residents should not have to risk their lives or their health to exercise their right to vote,” officials from AARP Massachusetts wrote in a recent letter to state lawmakers urging them to pass the bill. We’re now pushing for lawmakers to approve same-day voter registration after the provision was dropped from the new law. 

Massachusetts isn’t the only state where we’ve fought to expand voting access this legislative cycle. Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee recently signed AARP-backed legislation that allows no-excuse mail voting and removes the witness and notary requirement on mail ballots. And in Connecticut, more registered voters qualify to vote absentee, thanks to legislation we supported.  

Get more details about Massachusetts’ new voting law, and discover what other election laws have changed  for the 2022 midterms.
We’ll sit down with the science fiction icon to discuss his advocacy around LGBTQ rights and marriage equality, his family’s forced internment during World War II and more. The event is part of our Real Conversations with AARP virtual series, with past guests including radio DJ, TV and movie personality Donnie Simpson and actress Vanessa Williams, among other big names in music, television and pop culture.

The event kicks off on Wednesday, June 29 at 7 p.m. ET. Register now, and check out the other virtual events we have planned through our Virtual Community Center.
We’re urging lawmakers to advance legislation that would make saving for retirement easier and more streamlined — and to give Americans more opportunities to age independently. In a Wednesday letter to members of the Senate Committee on Finance, we pushed for a package that will: 

  • Shorten the window part-time workers must wait to enroll in employers’ retirement savings plans from three years to two. 
  • Make the Saver’s Credit — a tax credit for low- and middle-income households — refundable up to $1,000. The credit is not currently refundable. 
  • Require employers with more than 10 employees to automatically enroll workers in retirement savings plans. 
  • Require that retirement plan recipients receive a paper copy of their annual benefits statement, so workers and their families have a better sense of where they stand financially. 

Lawmakers are currently considering several retirement bills, including the Retirement Improvement and Savings Enhancement to Supplement Healthy Investments for the Nest Egg (RISE & SHINE) Act and the Enhancing American Retirement Now Act. These Senate bills are counterpart to a larger AARP-backed retirement package called the Securing a Strong Retirement Act of 2022, which was passed by the House with bipartisan support in March but has not yet been passed by the Senate. AARP was recognized for our work on these issues in a recent Senate Finance Committee hearing. 

Read our letter, and learn more about planning for retirement.
The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing last week on employee burnout and the resources women need to remain in the workforce. We sent a follow-up letter on Monday to thank lawmakers for considering this critical issue — and to highlight how important access to paid family and caregiving leave is for women who want to remain in the workforce.

Women accounted for nearly half (47 percent) of U.S. workers last year but are disproportionately responsible for caregiving duties. Although 1 in 5 Americans are caregivers for an adult or child with special needs, 3 in 5 are women, according to an AARP Public Policy Institute report.

“Many of these working women are taking care of children, older parents, spouses or other loved ones while also juggling full- or part-time jobs,” Bill Sweeney, AARP’s senior vice president for government affairs, wrote in the letter. “Paid leave for working caregivers is critical to older working women, because no one should have to choose between keeping their job and caring for a loved one in need.”

Sweeney also noted the financial implications of leaving the workforce early to care for a loved one, including the impacts on a caregiver’s Social Security benefits, lifetime earnings and retirement savings. And should a caregiver choose to re-enter the workforce down the line, they often face additional hurdles due to the gaps in their résumés.

We’ve been pushing federal and state lawmakers to advance paid family and caregiving leave bills to give women and all caregivers more options for remaining in the workforce. Maryland and Delaware are among several states that have considered paid family leave legislation in recent months, and AARP was active in getting those bills over the finish line.

Read our letter to lawmakers, and learn about how we’re fighting for all family caregivers.
A bill that will set up a state-facilitated retirement savings program in Delaware received overwhelming support in the state Senate on Tuesday, passing without a single “nay” vote. The AARP-supported program is expected to benefit thousands of working Delawareans and could save taxpayers millions of dollars on public assistance by helping residents save for their retirement years. The bill now heads to Governor John Carney’s desk. 

“The pandemic has shown how vital it is for Americans to have savings to depend on,” Lucretia Young, AARP Delaware State Director, said in a statement, noting that the program “would allow Delaware’s private-sector workers to easily save for the future to take care of themselves and afford life’s necessities, like food and medicine, as they age.” 

The Delaware Expanding Access for Retirement and Necessary Savings (EARNS) Program will require employers with more than five workers to enroll employees in the new retirement savings option or another retirement savings plan if they don’t already offer one. Workers can opt out but will automatically be enrolled otherwise. Research shows people are 15 times more likely to save for retirement when they can do so at work. 

AARP Delaware has been pushing for the creation of the bill since last year, recently hosting a retirement-focused tele-town hall with Delaware State Treasurer Colleen Davis and AARP Financial Ambassador Jean Chatzky. More than 9 in 10 Delawareans (92 percent) age 45 and up worry about having enough money saved to retire, according to a recent AARP survey. And more than two-thirds (68 percent) believe it’s important to have a way to save for retirement through their job.  

We’ve been working with state lawmakers across the country to improve retirement savings options for workers. Hawai’i passed an AARP-backed state-run savings program earlier this year, and Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering a similar bill. Once the plans in Delaware and Hawai’i are launched, 16 states will have state-facilitated retirement savings programs. 

Read about Delaware EARNS, and learn more about planning for retirement.
Call lights going unanswered for hours. Diapers left unchanged. Dinners going cold on the kitchen bench in the absence of sufficient staff members to deliver them. Nursing home residents left unable to shower because there were no fresh towels. These were some of the stories and personal accounts Cindy Napolitan, a nursing home resident near Dallas, told congressional staff and other stakeholders on Thursday during a virtual briefing about life in nursing homes.

During the briefing, hosted by AARP and National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, she recalled one afternoon when her neighbor did not wake up from a nap. Two and a half hours later, “the nurse calls out ‘Code!’,” Napolitan said. “CPR is started and paramedics arrive. After an hour, the paramedics leave the room. My neighbor — someone's loved one — has died.”  

Loretta Colantonio — whose 89-year-old mother, Rita, died in a Maryland nursing home last month — also spoke of the poor conditions her mother and family faced. Of not being able to contact the facility. Of receiving news that Rita had contracted COVID-19 — twice. Of Rita suffering long periods of pain in her final days because only one nurse was available to give medication.  

“She deserved to die with dignity while receiving high-quality care from staff,” Colantonio said. “Instead, my mother’s nursing home experience was horrendous for her and a nightmare for my family.” 

For decades, a lack of sufficient standards and oversight has left millions of vulnerable nursing home residents without quality care. That’s particularly been the case during the pandemic.  

To improve care, experts who spoke during the briefing joined AARP in urging minimum federal staffing standards. “Nursing services are the core of a nursing home,” said Charlene Harrington, a registered nurse and professor emerita at the University of California San Francisco, “and nurse staffing levels are simply too low.”

Experts also called for more transparency and accountability around nursing home ownership and finances. “Transparency could help consumers make more informed choices in choosing a facility,” said Nina Kohn, distinguished scholar in elder law at the Solomon Center for Health Law & Policy at Yale Law School. “Is this a home that spends most of their money on providing care? Or is it one that’s diverting a lot of income into investors’ pockets?”  

Together, panel members applauded President Joe Biden’s recent plan for nursing home reform, which includes steps to address staffing and transparency failures. But they urged swift action toward realizing these much-needed fixes, saying that the time for nursing home reform is now.

Watch a recording of our virtual nursing home briefing, and read more of our nursing home coverage.
Voters in several states are running out of time to request an absentee or mail-in ballot for their upcoming primary elections. In some states, like New Jersey and Virginia, any registered voter can cast an absentee ballot without providing a reason. And in states like Utah and Oregon, the vast majority of voters cast their ballots through the mail.

But in other states, like Kentucky and New Hampshire, mail ballots are available only to certain people, including those who have a disability. Check our guide to voting in your state to see if you’re eligible to cast an absentee or mail-in ballot.

Upcoming absentee or mail-in ballot request deadlines:
  • Illinois: Thursday, June 23, to vote in the June 28 primary.
Complicated enrollment processes stand in the way of U.S. military veterans accessing health benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs, AARP caregiving expert Amy Goyer said on Monday during an interview with Defense News.

Goyer — who served as a caregiver for her father and grandfather, both of whom were military veterans — was asked about a study from the RAND Corporation, which found that fewer than half of eligible veterans use their VA health benefits. “It really is a bunch of things together that are causing this,” she said. “We know that the enrollment process is confusing for people. There’s a lot of confusion about the qualifications, which programs you’re eligible for.”

​Goyer noted that research shows women age 50-plus are the least likely demographic to use their VA health benefits and that special outreach may be needed to help more women understand and access the resources available to them.

AARP maintains a Veterans Resources hub and a guide to navigating military health benefits to assist veterans and their loved ones. Goyer described the guide as a “free, one-stop resource to help you navigate through the maze when it comes to VA health benefits.” AARP also offers a Veterans Fraud Center, a veterans-specific job board, a caregiving guide, and free career and résumé-writing guidance, among other resources for current and former members of the U.S. military.

Watch a recording of Goyer’s remarks, and learn more about how we’re fighting for veterans and their loved ones.
Primary elections in Texas, Ohio, Indiana and several other states have already come and gone. But voters in several other states can — or will soon be able to — cast a ballot early and in person to beat the lines on Election Day

Early voting rules vary by state, with some, like Arkansas and Maryland, allowing any registered voter to cast a ballot at an early voting site. South Carolina will offer early voting for the first time this year thanks to a new election law.

Other states require voters to fill out absentee or mail ballots in person at clerks’ offices, while several states don’t allow early, in-person voting at all. Depending on your state, you may need to bring a driver’s license or other form of ID. Check our guide to voting in your state or territory to see if and how you can vote before Election Day. 

Upcoming early, in-person voting deadlines:
  • Oklahoma: Saturday, June 25, is the last day to vote early before the June 28 primary.
  • New York: Sunday, June 26, is the last day to vote early before the June 28 primary.
  • Illinois: Monday, June 27, is the last day to vote early before the June 28 primary.
  • Colorado: Monday, June 27, is the last day to vote early before the June 28 primary.
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