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AARP Louisiana and the 2011 Legislative Session

Facing a $1.6 billion dollar deficit was the biggest challenge for AARP Louisiana and the Capitol Advocacy Team as it worked to restore funding to the Department of Health and Hospitals and move two important pieces of legislation.

Nearly 2,500 AARP members emailed their legislator, asking them to restore $110 million to the Office of Aging and Adult Services in the Department of Health and Hospitals. These cuts would have devastated adult protective, and home and community based services.

“We appreciate our members for taking action and telling their legislator how important these programs are,” said Communications Director Denise Bottcher. “Their voices were heard and the programs were restored. This couldn’t have happened without them.”

Through the hard work of the Capitol Advocacy Team made up of committed AARP volunteers and led by Advocacy Director Kerry Everitt, the legislature passed two resolutions that will shape Louisiana’s work in the coming year.

Americans are living longer. But many of them live with chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. In fact, four out of five adults suffer from at least one chronic condition.

Working with Representative Scott Simon and the Office of Aging and Adult Services, AARP Louisiana successfully advocated for House Resolution 125, which creates a study group on chronic care in the community. The work group, comprised of diverse stakeholders spanning health care and livable communities, will identify problems related to effective care coordination, and will assess current care delivery and support services in Louisiana. The group will also examine promising models and make recommendations to the 2012 Legislature.

By 2015, more than 15.5 million Americans ages 65 and older will live in communities where public transportation service is poor or non-existent. That number is expected to continue to grow rapidly as the baby boom generation “ages in place” in suburbs with few mobility options for those who do not drive.

AARP Louisiana worked closely with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development and Representative Joe Harrison to pass House Concurrent Resolution 131, which forms a work group to study ways agencies can improve access to transit for all people, regardless of age and ability.

“Today, in Louisiana, Human Services Transportation is fragmented, uncoordinated and escalating in cost. I’m hopeful this work group will present cost effective, practical recommendations to the legislature next year that lawmakers can implement. It’s important that we help people connect to vital services and activities when they can no longer access traditional modes of transportation,” said Representative Joe Harrison.

AARP Louisiana thanks all of its volunteers for their hard work. We will continue to work closely with volunteers, lawmakers and partners to advance the issues important to the 50+ population.