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AARP WV Leaders Discuss 2020 State Legislative Agenda

CHARLESTON — AARP West Virginia state leaders have detailed the organization’s legislative agenda for the 2020 West Virginia Legislature, with a focus on legislative action addressing rising prescription drug prices, caregiving services and support, financial and retirement security, consumer protections and strengthening communities.

AARP West Virginia staff and volunteers are maintaining a very active presence at the state Capitol throughout the 60-day session, working on behalf of nearly 300,000 members across the Mountain State. AARP is working closely with state leaders on the passage of legislation impacting West Virginians 50-plus, which includes:

* Lower Prescription Drug Prices: The skyrocketing prices of prescription drugs affect almost everyone, putting a strain not only on family budgets, but on state budgets as well. In 2019, 33 states enacted legislation to make prescription drugs more accessible and affordable. In 2020, AARP urges state lawmakers to take more action to increase transparency to shed a light on the reasons behind rising drug prices and cap out-of-pocket costs for life-saving drugs.

* Support Family Caregivers: Approximately 300,000 family caregivers in West Virginia provide an estimated $2.8 billion in un-paid care annually to loved ones who need help to live independently. In 2020, AARP will continue working to support family caregivers and their loved ones by advancing laws and policies that will reduce the financial burden of caregiving through tax credits, grants or other assistance for family caregivers and provide family caregivers with a needed break through greater access to respite care.

* Strengthen Home Care Services: An overwhelming majority of West Virginians want to stay in their homes and communities as they age. AARP urges state lawmakers to improve the access to and affordability of services and supports that allow them to do so, and will be working to increase access to state-funded and Medicaid home- and community-based care, and remove barriers to telehealth services, such as outdated regulations, and expand high-speed internet in order to help more consumers and family caregivers get the care they need right at home.

* Fight Elder Abuse and Fraud: As instances of elder abuse, especially financial exploitation, continue to rise, AARP is asking state leaders to increase funding for Adult Protective Services and strengthen civil and criminal penalties for fraud and financial exploitation.

* Build Communities for All Ages: AARP supports actions at the state level for improvements that make communities places where people of all ages can thrive — “livable communities” — such as affordable and reliable gas, electric and water services, and high-quality, affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband internet service.

“AARP’s state advocacy agenda reflects the organization’s commitment to find bipartisan solutions that enable more people to live and age as they choose,” said AARP West Virginia State President Jane Marks.

“The fight to lower prescription drug prices is uniquely bipartisan. This is an issue that affects everyone, and one that people everywhere can get behind,” she said. “Caregiving continues to be a big issue in our state, with nearly 300,000 West Virginians annually providing $2.8 billion in unpaid care to family members or loved ones. We must do what we can to support those caregivers and the thousands of West Virginians that want to remain at home as they age.”

The 60-day regular session of the West Virginia Legislature concludes on March 7.

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