This month, state legislatures throughout the nation are convening to mark the inauguration of new governors, state legislators and other state leaders. We will then begin to hear State of the State messages from governors that detail the challenges, opportunities and priorities they have defined for the year ahead.
At AARP, we’ve also set our priorities for 2015 with a 2015 AARP State Advocacy Agenda that highlights how we will continue to fight for you in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. We’ll be watching closely as governors and legislators lay out their agendas to make sure our priorities — your priorities — are addressed.
Here are our top 2015 legislative priorities, across the states:
Supporting Family Caregivers
Today more than 42 million family caregivers care for parents, husbands, wives and other loved ones to help them stay at home — and out of costly institutions. That’s why in 2015 we’re working for commonsense solutions to give caregivers more support, help at home, training and more by fighting:
- For the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act to support family caregivers when their loved ones go into the hospital and as they transition home
- For caregiver employee leave, so family caregivers don’t have to worry about losing their pay — or their jobs — when they have to take time off to care for a loved one
- For respite care that allows family caregivers to take a hard-earned break
- To make sure caregivers have access to the right resources in the community, like home care and adult day care
- To cut through the red tape and allow nurses to have the full authority to heal
- To help family caregivers navigate financial challenges by making sure power of attorney and adult guardianship laws are consistent and honored from state to state
Helping People Live Independently in Their Own Homes and Communities
The vast majority of older Americans want to stay in their homes and communities as they age. It’s also less costly. In fact, home care is one-third the cost of institutions, like nursing homes. That’s why AARP is calling on state lawmakers to take action and make changes so that individuals receive the services they need to continue living independently in their homes.
Enhancing Retirement Security
Today, millions are facing a retirement deficit, outliving their retirement savings by an average of $57,000 per household. To help you live the life you want in retirement, AARP is fighting for your financial future. Here are two ways how:
- 55 million Americans don’t have access to a retirement plan at work, a tool that increases savings rates by 1,300 percent. “Work and Save” plans are a commonsense solution that allows employees to save for their future at their job and benefits small businesses, employees and states.
- We’re also working to protect retirees from cuts to their pensions — because pensions are promises and states need to keep up their end of the deal. Underfunded pension plans need to be shored up, and any changes must be fiscally responsible and protect the financial future of workers and retirees.
Standing Up for Consumers
Fair utilities: You should pay only what’s fair and reasonable for reliable utility service — that’s why we’re fighting against unfair utility rates. We’re working to defeat unreasonable rate increases and charges, to make sure you have a voice at the table when utility companies want to raise your rates and ensure consumer protections.
Financial exploitation: We’re also helping to safeguard older Americans from financial abuse, by enacting laws that help prevent, detect, report and assign penalties against elder financial exploitation, preserve funding for adult protective services and more.
Accessing Affordable Health Coverage
Many hard-working Americans who have lost their jobs or are struggling in jobs without health coverage have no access to affordable care. AARP is fighting in states across the country to expand access to affordable care and give these hard-working families the security of knowing they can get the health care they need.
Designing Livable Communities for All Ages
We need to make communities more livable for all ages. This could be barrier-free buildings and streets as well as more convenient access to services, businesses and green spaces. This includes legislation like Safe Streets to promote effective transportation planning, coordination and funding to address the needs of all residents.
For more advocacy news from across the country, sign up for the AARP Advocates e-newsletter or visit your state Web page.
Elaine Ryan is the vice president of state advocacy and strategy integration (SASI) for AARP. She leads a team of dedicated legislative staff members who work with AARP state offices to advance advocacy with governors and state legislators, helping people 50-plus attain and
maintain their health and financial security.
Follow Elaine on Twitter: @RoamTheDomes.
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