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Support for Aging Nebraskans in the Works

Establishing permanent Aging and Disability Resource Centers across Nebraska is the focus of a bill under consideration at the State House. (Jim Bowen/Flickr)
Establishing permanent Aging and Disability Resource Centers across Nebraska is the focus of a bill under consideration at the State House. (Jim Bowen/Flickr)
February 27, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. – With the state legislative session in full swing, advocates for older adults are hopeful their senators will continue to prioritize policies that support Nebraskans as they age.

Among the top priorities for AARP Nebraska is Legislative Bill 1004, which would establish permanent Aging and Disability Resource Centers across the state.

Jina Ragland, AARP Nebraska's associate state director of advocacy and outreach, explains the centers are one-stop shops for older adults and Nebraskans with disabilities searching for support and services in their communities.

"It helps people find the right service so they can get the right care at the right time," she says. "And most importantly they can age in place in their homes or in the lowest level of care which in turn not only saves the consumer money but also can provide savings to the state."

This legislative session, he says AARP is also backing LB 439, which would help expand the scope of practice of assisted living nurses, and LB 844, which requires employers to provide 40 hours of paid leave to full-time workers each year to care for themselves or a loved one.

With some elderly Nebraskans struggling to put food on the table, Ragland says LB 770 could help by raising the income limit to qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

"There's 176,000 Nebraskans who get SNAP benefits and 29 percent of those were elderly or had a disability," she notes. "Nutrition is very important in health and without proper nutrition, we have health consequences that result in high medical costs."

Lawmakers are also considering financial security legislation, which Ragland notes is important for both the young and old. LB 194 caps interest rates on predatory payday loans; and LB 757 ends fees for consumers to place or remove a security freeze on their personal information.

"Consumer interests always, I think, are at the forefront for senators," says Ragland. "With the short session and a budget and other tax priority bills I still think we have good senators that are fighting for the rights of Nebraskans and will continue to push for those incentives."

AARP is also supporting LB 738, which would annually adjust Nebraska's taxation of Social Security benefits for inflation.

Ragland believes all these bills can help make life better for Nebraskans ages 65-plus, whose numbers are expected to increase 36 percent from 2010 to 2020, with higher growth among those 85 and older.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - NE