Maine AARP: Focus on Seniors This Legislative Session
Thursday, February 3, 2022
With the Maine legislative session under way, advocates for older Americans say residents need action on issues from prescription-drug costs and other health care needs to broadband, utilities and voting.
More than half of Mainers report being either somewhat or very worried about affording the cost of their prescriptions, with those making less than $50,000 a year reporting the most worry.
Noël Bonam, state director for AARP Maine, said costs are much lower in other countries, including neighboring Canada. He emphasized efforts to stop price gouging are crucial.
"There are some older adults, especially low-income older adults, and having to decide if they have to pay for prescription drugs or buy their next meal," Bonam pointed out. "That's not a great way for us to take care of our own in our own community as they age."
He added Maine should broaden the options for home- and community-based care, so more people can age in place. But it can be difficult in a state such as Maine, where limited access to transportation makes it difficult for people with mobility issues to get around.
Bonam stressed it is also important to invest in the care workforce, to make sure Mainers have available and affordable options.
Bonam noted the pandemic highlighted the need for broadband access for everyone, especially older adults who live alone and in isolated areas of the state.
He argued high-speed internet gives people access to remote work and telehealth, and helps them stay in touch with family and friends.
"A lot of people have felt isolated; people of all ages," Bonam contended. "But if you're living in a rural area without having your relatives, kids, family members nearby, and you don't have good broadband, you can feel even more isolated."
With rising rates for property taxes, rent, utility costs and more, it is all the more important to ensure seniors can keep up, especially those on a fixed income, Bonam concluded.
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