Monday, March 27, 2023

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AARP Connecticut Outlines 2023 Legislative Goals

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Thursday, January 5, 2023   

As the Connecticut General Assembly's 2023 legislative session begins, AARP Connecticut is eager to dive into key issues for seniors and consumers, including retirement income, nursing homes, long-term care, and making utilities more affordable.

Prescription drug prices will be a particular focal point. According to a 2022 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 1,200 products saw price increases exceeding the rate of inflation of 8.5%. The study found price increases for drugs were 31.6%.

Nora Duncan, state director for AARP Connecticut, described what could keep prescription drug prices in check in the state.

"A prescription drug affordability board is an independent body established by the state that would evaluate drug prices and set upper limits on how much certain payers, including state agencies, would pay for high cost prescription medication," Duncan outlined.

Currently, six states have prescription drug affordability boards. While Duncan noted it is not the only solution to the problem, it might be the best option to start the conversation. She hopes it will branch into examining other options for Connecticut residents.

She is also eager to have the General Assembly examine increasing utility costs. Two electric companies in Connecticut, Eversource and United Illuminating, announced rate hikes last year which would increase customers' bills by $84 and $79, respectively. Along with increases from gas companies, Duncan believes this winter will be harsh for ratepayers.

"It is going to be winter," Duncan acknowledged. "Luckily, it's kind of warm right now, but the winter is going to be one in which people who never needed to seek assistance and could always afford their bills before are going to be pushed over the edge."

She added it is an opportunity to see what's not working, so people do not have to choose between paying their utilities or paying for other things. The primary reason cited for Eversource and United Illuminating's rate increases is the global impact of the war in Ukraine. Meanwhile, water company Aquarion is proposing a 25% increase over the next three years.

Disclosure: AARP Connecticut contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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