As Virginia's General Assembly went to work January 11, AARP Virginia volunteers were there fighting for all Virginians age 50+. Staff and volunteers will monitor the legislature and fight to protect the state's older residents from financial abuse and predatory loans. The organization also will support legislation that will increase Virginians' access to quality health care by advocating for a consumer-driven health insurance exchange and expanding access to nurse practitioners as health care providers.
Until the close of this year’s legislation session, AARP Virginia volunteers will be working on the following legislative priorities.
Exploitation of the Elderly
In Virginia, thousands of older persons are exploited – often by caregivers or family members for their money and other financial assets. The victim may not even be aware that the abuse is occurring. Although financial exploitation of older persons is on the rise, it is difficult to prosecute those who commit such acts because there is no specific Virginia law against elder financial abuse. AARP supports an elder abuse law that is specific to the crime of financial exploitation committed against older persons and vulnerable adults.
Virginia consumers should be able to borrow money on fair terms to meet their short-term cash flow needs. In recent years, Virginia has regulated the short-term lending industry, but payday and car title lenders have found loopholes to skirt the law and avoid regulation. Predatory lenders typically target older households and households with low and moderate incomes. With interest rates that can be as high as 300%, consumers could find themselves trapped in debt and closer to financial ruin. AARP supports legislation that would cap the amount of interest that a lender can charge a borrower at 36% APR including fees.
Implementation of Health Care Reform
The new federal health care reform law allows states to establish open markets (a Health Insurance Exchange) to make insurance available to individuals and small businesses. Those who can’t get coverage through their jobs will have the right to purchase any plan offered through this open market. AARP Virginia supports inclusion of strong consumer representation in the development and operation of Virginia’s Health Insurance Exchange, particularly in the areas of plan selection, quality standards and oversight, reduction of disparities, and consumer choice options.
Home and Community Based Services
Currently, long-term care services and funding in Virginia are heavily focused on nursing homes and other institutional settings. AARP Virginia supports reforms to the long-term care system that allow individuals to remain in their home or home like settings. AARP Virginia urges state policymakers to consider making these options available for all Virginians.
Access to Care
Advanced Practice Registered Nurses provide high quality primary care but Virginia law precludes them from practicing to their full level of expertise by requiring physician supervision which is a barrier to full utilization of this valuable resource. These laws are outdated and delay or prevent consumers from accessing the care they need which can lead to more severe illnesses and can increase Virginia’s health care costs. AARP Virginia supports state laws that allow Advanced Practice Registered Nurses to practice without physician supervision and increase the access to care that our members need and deserve.