AARP Sees Long-Term Care, Senior Housing, Drug Costs as 2022 AZ Issues
Monday, January 3, 2022
When the Arizona Legislature starts its 2022 session next week, AARP Arizona and other senior advocacy groups say there is a lot of unfinished business to tackle.
The makeup of the Arizona House and Senate will be significantly different, as more than a dozen members left after the 2021 session and will be replaced with new faces.
Brendon Blake, associate state director for advocacy at AARP Arizona, said long-term care, affordable housing for seniors and lowering Medicare drug prices are among his group's top priorities. He said they will work to make sure the 10 new House members and three new senators are up to speed.
"It's important we make sure that not just new members, but members who've been around the block, are aware of where AARP stands on these kinds of issues," Blake explained. "That way, they know where we're coming from and the types of things that we're looking for, and why we support or oppose certain pieces of legislation."
He said with the 2022 midterm elections coming in November, lawmakers could be in a hurry to finish their work and start their campaigns. The main session is set to close in mid-May, but one or more special sessions could be called if major legislation isn't finished.
Blake said AARP has worked for several years to deal with problems in Arizona's long-term care facilities, with a focus on enhancing support for family caregivers, expanding home and community-based services, and promoting best practices in the industry.
"There's a lot of questions that we still have regarding our long-term care facilities, our long-term care system as a whole, and what happened throughout the course of COVID," Blake outlined. "We still have questions as it relates to how our facilities were operating and how our system was operating before COVID."
Blake pointed out another critical issue is dealing with how Arizona's housing crisis is affecting seniors.
"We see housing as two issues," Blake stated. "The affordable housing side of things that allows people to stay in their homes; and then, we see it as the people who have already lost their homes, and they're experiencing homelessness currently."
He added other priorities include working to cut prices on lifesaving prescription drugs, developing a state "Work and Save" plan to help more Arizonans fund their retirement, and developing options to help retirees manage rising utility bills.
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