Each year, AARP Massachusetts selects state legislative priorities that are consistent with the policies adopted by AARP’s national Board of Directors. These priorities are based on the needs of the commonwealth’s residents and developed through feedback from member surveys, general member communications, and AARP-sponsored hearings and events.
Fighting for Vulnerable Bay Staters
“With five consecutive years of state budget revenue shortfalls, programs that serve seniors in the commonwealth have been hard hit; many have been cut to the bone,” said AARP Massachusetts State Director Deborah Banda. “This year, we will continue to fight to make sure vulnerable older residents have access to the services that they need to stay healthy, independent, and in control.”
At the top of AARP Massachusetts’ state legislative agenda, protecting:
- Home care
- Adult Day Health Services
- Nursing Home Leaves of Absence, often called the “bed hold”
- Elder protective services, including the Money Management Program
- Prescription Advantage, the state’s pharmacy assistance program that works in tandem with Medicare Part D
- Elder Nutrition Program
- Health care reform affordability and quality measures
- Councils on Aging and Seniors Centers
Rebalancing Long Term Care
“We also know that having access to a full range of affordable, quality long term services and supports is very important to Bay State seniors, their families, and caregivers,” Banda added. “Yet, according to a recent report, Massachusetts scores close to the bottom of all states when it comes to affordability and quality of long term care options.”
Long term services and supports include:
- Home care
- Adult day health services
- Residential services such as assisted living and nursing homes
- Respite care as well as other support for family caregivers
As the commonwealth’s leaders to move closer to introducing health care payment reform, AARP urges them to include long term services and supports as part of this discussion, to shift more funding to home and community based care – and start addressing the cost and quality issues that burden so many of the commonwealth’s older residents and their families.
Driving Down Prescription Drug Costs
AARP fought hard to pass the Rx Gift Ban Law. Passed in 2008, this law restricts drug company marketing practices, such as giving gifts and entertaining doctor’s and other prescribers. Since then, it has been under attack, with special interests such as the pharmaceutical industry and the restaurant industry, trying to weaken or repeal the law; in the 2011-2012 legislative session alone, five separate bills have been filed.
AARP strongly supports the Rx Gift Ban Law as one way to help drive down spiraling prescription drug costs – and is fighting to protect consumers. Today, an undisclosed portion of the pharmaceutical industry’s budget goes towards drug marketing to physicians, which can influence brand selection and prescription rates.
According to Banda, “Massachusetts consumers cannot afford for the commonwealth to take a step backwards in addressing the high cost of health care, and they should not be footing the bill for doctor’s free lunches.”
Help doctors make medical decisions based on balanced data – rather than drug company marketing materials. AARP will also fight to protect an independent and objective drug education program for doctors, called “academic detailing.” The program provides evidence-based information based on the best available scientific literature, evaluated by experienced doctors.
Make Your Voice Heard
Make your voice heard on our state legislative priorities! Sign up to become an AARP Activist to stay up-to-date on important issues, including the state budget, health care payment reform, prescription drugs, long-term care, Medicare, and Social Security. You can also get more involved, in your community; email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
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