I was glad to see in their announcement of legislative priorities for 2017 that AARP Maine will tackle issues of great concern to older residents: Caregiving, affordable housing, affordable utility rates and the protection of home and community-based services. The latter refers to the security of programs of paramount importance to some of our most at-risk residents, programs such as the Medicare Savings Program and Drugs for the Elderly. Mainers struggling with the rising costs of food and heat for their homes do not need the additional worry of how to pay for their prescription drugs.
All of these issues call attention to the fact that many older Mainers are vulnerable. For example, we need more support for the thousands of family caregivers in Maine, many of whom are older adults themselves. Many are working and could use the caregiver tax credit that AARP Maine supports.
We are also in need of more affordable housing. It is unacceptable that 9,000 Maine seniors are waiting for an affordable, accessible place to live. People are looking for housing they can afford so they can remain in their own communities as they age.
It will be interesting to see how the merger of FairPoint with Consolidated Communications will affect landline services and utility costs for Mainers. In our rural state, affordable rates and reliable service is critical and I agree that no matter where you live in Maine, you should have access to telephone service you can count on.
I sincerely hope that our elected leaders will develop solutions for older Mainers that are sensible and sustainable. I’ll be following quite a few bills this session, and hope others will join me in this endeavor.