4 Reasons to Watch State Legislatures in 2018

4 Reasons to Watch State Legislatures in 2018


Simmering issues important to all older Americans and their families, like health and financial security, may escalate to a full boil in many state Capitols in 2018.

Facing these challenges and opportunities head-on, AARP is already exhaustively at work throughout the country, fighting for the issues that matter and driving an innovative agenda focused on commonsense solutions without the clutter of partisanship.

Last year, AARP State Offices achieved huge successes, including new supports for family caregivers, greater access to home and community based services, and new ways to save for retirement. This year, we will continue to find ways to better enable more people to live and age as they choose.

Among our top priorities:

Supporting Family Caregivers
About 40 million family caregivers represent the backbone of our country’s care system, providing hours of unpaid care to their loved ones every day. Over the past two years, AARP state offices have worked with state legislators and governors to enact more than 150 new laws that support these unsung heroes.

In 2018, AARP will continue to support family caregivers and their loved ones by advancing laws and policies that:

  • Provide information about the medical or nursing tasks that family caregivers will be asked to perform when their loved ones are discharged from the hospital. The Caregiver Advise, Record and Enable (CARE) Act promotes family caregiver involvement, notification and instruction, and has been enacted in nearly 40 states already.
  • Reduce the financial burden for family caregivers through a tax credit.
  • Ensure Advanced Practice Registered Nurses can use the full extent of their education and training, and allow nurses to delegate certain medical tasks to home care workers.
  • Provide family caregivers with a much-needed break through greater access to respite care services.
  • Help family caregivers manage personal or property decisions through comprehensive adult guardianship and power of attorney improvements.
  • Encourage employers to offer workplace flexibility options, such as extending paid leave and allowing employees to use sick leave for caregiving responsibilities.
  • Create or modify a home care provider registry to enable public access to home care information and availability.
  • Remove barriers to telehealth services such as outdated regulations and policies, in order to expand access to care, improve the quality and reduce the cost of care, and create greater convenience for patients and their family caregivers.

Strengthening Home and Community Based Services
AARP knows that an overwhelming majority of Americans want to stay in their homes and communities. That’s why AARP is urging state policymakers to improve home and community based support for older adults and Americans living with disabilities by:

  • Lowering costs and improving access.
  • Providing greater choice of settings, providers and services.
  • Enhancing quality of life and quality of care.
  • Increasing effective transitions to avoid unnecessary hospitalizations and institutionalizations.

Accessing Retirement Plans at Work
Half of all U.S. families have zero saved for retirement, and 55 million Americans do not have access to retirement saving plans at work. That’s why AARP will continue advocating for Work and Save plans to increase access to workplace savings options and remove barriers for small businesses that want to offer retirement savings plans to their employees.

Ensuring Utility Services are Affordable
All across the country, families count on utility services to warm and cool their homes, keep their lights on, and access the technology to connect with loved ones—as well as police and fire in case of emergency. AARP strives to save utility customers money by fighting for affordable, reliable, and safe energy and telecommunications services. 

In addition, this year, AARP will also continue fighting to: extend Medicaid coverage; lower the costs of prescription drugs; protect pension benefits and retirement income; strengthen communities for all ages; and combat financial exploitation and elder abuse.


To stay up to date on our work in your state, and nationwide, sign up for our e-alerts AARP Advocates e-newsletter, follow me on Twitter @roamthedomes, 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.



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State Guardianship Systems Require Expedited Reform

State Guardianship Systems Require Expedited Reform


Recent news articles spotlight egregious acts conducted by court-appointed guardians against the older individuals entrusted in their care. These reports highlight some of the worst situations occurring within a system that requires expedited improvement, now.

AARP has long fought for state laws to protect older individuals—and their assets—from abuse, and to make sure guardians—public, private, and family caregivers—have the information they need to do their job. Over the past 4 years alone, AARP State Offices across the country have passed more than 45 guardianship-specific laws to address this serious issue.

But more needs to be done, including clamping down on the bad actors by increasing court monitoring, oversight and training of guardians, and mechanisms to follow up with protected individuals.  Specifically, AARP believes reforms must emphasize, at minimum:

  • The Individual: Every individual has different needs and preferences. State laws should emphasize individualized guardianship plans and require courts to order less restrictive options for individuals who are capable of making their own decisions.

 

  • The Guardian: State laws must spell out the duties and responsibilities of a guardian, providing a standard for decision-making focused on the expectations of the person under guardianship, and outline standards of practice and training requirements.  It also must provide a detailed procedure for getting rid of bad actors.

 

  • The Courts: State laws should guide judges to use the least restrictive option available when considering cases for guardianship, including supported decision making, and focus on court oversight and monitoring to help prevent abuse and exploitation.

AARP will continue to work, on a state by state basis, to urge policy makers to ramp up reform of the adult guardianship system because no elder should face abuse or exploitation, especially at the hand of the person tasked with their protection.

For now, if you suspect abuse of a protected individual by a guardian, here’s how to get help:

If you have a story to share about your experience as a guardian for an older individual, we encourage you to visit aarp.org/iheartcaregivers.

To sign up for updates on AARP’s advocacy efforts in your state, click here.


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.

Photo: iStock/LPETTET 



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