February 5, 2012

AARP Maine Responds to Governor’s State-of-the-State Address: Organization Disappointed by Lack of Acknowledgement of Issues Affecting Seniors

AARP Maine is responding tonight to Governor Paul LePage’s State-of-the-State address delivered this evening in Augusta.

“On behalf of our more than 230,000 members across Maine, AARP expects strong executive and legislative leadership across party lines as our elected officials address both the revenue and spending sides of the budget,” said Lori Parham, AARP Maine State Director. “While Governor LePage is correct that decisions made now will have an impact on Mainers and their families for years to come, AARP is both surprised and disappointed tonight that his discussion of fiscal security for families in our state did not include any acknowledgement of Mainers 50+. Maine is the oldest state in the nation and these issues need to be addressed.”

Of particular concern to AARP Maine is the fact that the Governor did not discuss MaineCare and overall access to health care for Maine families. AARP Maine supports expansion of the federally funded Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act so that Mainers 50-64 who have lost employee coverage can have access to care.

“AARP is working to ensure that older Americans who have lost their jobs and are struggling to find new ones can obtain needed health care,” said Parham. “AARP is deeply committed to ensuring that people between the ages of 50-64 without healthcare have options for coverage. Expanding Medicaid will give people without insurance access to preventive care that can save lives, reduce the need for expensive emergency room care, and ease overall health care costs.”

The latest Governor to voice support for Medicaid expansion is Governor John Kasich, a Republican, from Ohio. AARP Maine urges Governor LePage to consider following suit.

“AARP Maine was surprised that there was no discussion of the needs of Maine’s oldest and most at-risk citizens, especially considering the current budget proposals that would cut low-cost programs that help seniors stay in their own homes,” said Parham. “Budget cuts to inexpensive programs such as Meals on Wheels and Drugs for the Elderly are short-sighted. These programs are the very reason some of our most vulnerable residents can stay in their own homes and their own communities, a far less costly solution than institutional care.”

AARP surveys indicate that nine out of ten Maine residents 50 and older want to stay in their own homes and local communities as long as possible. AARP Maine will advocate for improving the balance of funding for home and community-based services that delivers this result. AARP will also advocate for programs and initiatives that support family caregivers who are balancing work and family responsibilities. “These are the kinds of policies that will draw retirees to Maine and keep current residents here,” Parham said.

“The citizens of Maine expect Governor LePage and our legislative leaders to come together and work to devise solutions that make sense,” said Parham. “We urge lawmakers to reject any budget proposal that jeopardizes the well-being of our most vulnerable residents. AARP Maine stands ready to work with the Governor and the legislature on these critical issues.”

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for Americans 50+ and the world’s largest-circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for the 50+ audience; www.aarp.org<http://www.aarp.org/>; AARP VIVA, a bilingual lifestyle multimedia platform addressing the interests and needs of Hispanic Americans; and national television and radio programming including My Generation and Inside E Street. The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org<http://www.aarp.org/>.