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Lobby Day brings advocates to Annapolis to focus on Maryland seniors

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Thursday, March 7, 2024   

Advocates will head to Annapolis today as AARP Maryland conducts its annual lobby day.

The group's staff and volunteers will meet in person with lawmakers to raise awareness about issues important to Marylanders age 50 and older.

Tammy Bresnahan, senior director of advocacy for AARP Maryland, said with more than half the legislative session already over, the volunteers have been busy making their voices heard.

"We have reviewed hundreds of bills," Bresnahan outlined. "We are tracking about 110, and our volunteer advocates have prepared testimony and attended hearings on about 75 of those 110 bills, ranging everywhere from a caregiver tax credit to improvements in long-term care."

AARP Maryland is also weighing in on issues around consumer protections, affordable electricity service as well as retiree tax relief.

A number of bills address assisted living and nursing home care. Senate Bill 825 would enable nursing home inspection authority to be delegated to local governments when needed. Senate Bill 1000 would give the Maryland Health Care Commission oversight of private equity acquisitions of nursing homes, requiring purchasers to report on their nursing home holdings in Maryland or other states including quality ratings.

Bresnahan pointed out the bill would also ensure the purchaser has adequate financial resources to meet the needs of the nursing home population.

"For years, the financials on especially nursing homes haven't been transparent," Bresnahan noted. "We just want to make sure that individuals are not kicked out for some reason because an owner decides to sell or a very large conglomeration decides to buy."

Senate Bill 863 would update the resident bill of rights for assisted-living programs, and would include provisions specific to memory care. Bresnahan stressed assisted living regulations have not been updated by the state Department of Health since 2008 and a lot has changed since then.

"We know that 67% of the people that live in assisted living have acuity issues, that they take nine to 14 drugs a day, and assisted living does not have a medical model like nursing homes," Bresnahan emphasized. "We're always looking for improvements around assisted living."

The Legislature is in session through April 8.

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


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