Nebraska’s Unicameral is now in session until June and AARP Nebraska is at the table working on behalf of our members. While AARP is concerned with a long list of legislative bills and how they may impact Nebraskans 50 plus, we’re focused most on those issues where we have the best chance of making a positive difference for our members.
Preserving critical funding for community aging services and the homestead exemption are among our leading legislative priorities in 2011. Both programs help make it possible for Nebraskans to stay in their homes and communities as they age.
With the state facing a $960 million budget gap over the next two years, AARP is fighting to maintain a strong network of community aging and care management services that help older Nebraskans live safely and independently outside of a nursing home. On average, in-home care services are just one-third the cost of institutional care.
“Community aging services represent an investment in the future of Nebraska,” said Connie Benjamin, AARP Nebraska State Director. “It would be short-sighted for lawmakers to cut aging services that are saving the state millions of dollars in avoided Medicaid costs on nursing home care. We need to continue building a long-term care system for the 21st century that offers adequate in-home services and supports for an aging population.”
AARP wants to maintain current funding levels in the Legislature’s appropriations bill for aging services provided by the state’s eight area agencies on aging. The Community Aging Services Act (CASA) funds Nebraska senior centers, home-delivered meals, transportation, in-home care and other services that help frail older adults continue to live at home.
Benjamin added that AARP opposes several budget-cutting measures (LB 319, 320, 321) that would jeopardize property tax relief for older and disabled homeowners on fixed incomes.
“AARP is committed to sustaining the homestead exemption program for people who cannot afford to pay their property taxes,” Benjamin said. “We are reluctant to support any change that will limit their access to the program.”
Other issues at the top of AARP’s advocacy agenda include strengthening consumer protections for the growing number of older Nebraskans who are choosing assisted living and stricter standards for court-appointed guardians and conservators. LB 401 is a consumer disclosure bill that directs the state to collect information from assisted living facilities about the services, fees and conditions of residence, and allows consumers to compare facilities. Assisted living facilities would have to provide this information to people when they apply for admission. LB 157 tightens oversight of guardians and conservators for incapacitated adults, including a requirement for background checks.
To receive legislative updates from AARP Nebraska or join AARP’s volunteer advocacy team, contact Mark Intermill at 1-866-389-5651 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.