RICHMOND _ When the Virginia General Assembly returns to work on Wednesday, AARP volunteers will ask lawmakers for legislation to provide drug price transparency, give family caregivers a tax credit, help workers save for retirement, and help those with student debt.
According to State Health Access Data Assistance Center, nearly one-in-four (23%) Virginians stopped taking a prescription medication in 2017 due to cost. The most recent AARP Public Policy Institute Rx Price Watch Report found that retail prices for more than 250 widely used brand name drugs grew more than twice the rate of general inflation from 2006 – 2017.
“Too many Virginians can’t afford to take medications they need, and almost everybody has a story about a prescription that shot up in price without being told why,” said AARP Virginia State Director Jim Dau. “It’s time to bring transparency to the system to give Virginians explanations for price increases that, so far, have been inexplicable or unexplained.”
Also during the session, AARP will ask lawmakers to give family caregivers a financial break by passing a $1,000 Family Caregiver Tax Credit.
“Virginia’s elected officials have a chance to assist family caregivers who spend their own money to keep their loved ones out of nursing homes,” Dau said. “These family caregivers are the unrecognized backbone of Virginia’s long-term care system while sacrificing their own financial security; this tax credit is a small measure to help support them.”
Across Virginia, more than 1 million family caregivers assist their parents, spouses, and other loved ones, often so they can remain at home—where they want to be—and out of costly, taxpayer-funded nursing homes. These family caregivers help with bathing, dressing, transportation, and much more—and many contribute financially to their loved one’s care. These responsibilities can be emotionally, physically, and financially challenging.
In 2017, Virginia’s family caregivers provided 870 million hours of unpaid care per year—valued at $11.2 billion annually. In addition, they spent an average of nearly $7,000 - 11,000 per year out of their own pocket.
Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) and Del. Kaye Kory (D-Fairfax) are sponsoring legislation that would create a non-refundable credit to help offset the cost of certain qualified expenses by reducing the amount of state income taxes owed.
“The Virginia General Assembly should follow the leadership of Del. Rasoul in helping family caregivers save some of the money that they otherwise devote to supporting their loved ones,” Dau said.
AARP Virginia also is fighting to put a secure retirement within reach for people who work hard and want to plan for their future.
Volunteer advocates will ask the General Assembly to pass legislation to help workers save for retirement with a Work and Save Plan.
“Work and Save is a common-sense solution that can help more Virginians build their own nest eggs,” said Dau.
AARP also supports efforts to help ease student debt by strengthening laws related to student loan servicing. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax), would penalize unscrupulous loan servicers.
“Nationally, people over 60 have $86 billion in student loan debt — much of it weighing on them because they’re helping their children or grandchildren pay for college — and list student loans as looming roadblocks to retirement,” Dau said.
The collective burden of all Americans’ outstanding student loans is greater than any other source of debt except mortgages, and in Virginia, tuition and fees have risen nearly twice as fast as health care prices since the early 2000s.
With more than 1 million members in Virginia, AARP is the largest organization working on behalf of people age 50+ and their families in the Commonwealth. In recent years, AARP Virginia has successfully fought for Medicaid expansion, protections for older people against financial exploitation, and empowering family caregivers. More information about AARP Virginia’s policy priorities can be found on the website.
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and advocate for what matters most to families with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also works for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen, high-quality products and services to carry the AARP name. As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the nation's largest circulation publications, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.
This story is provided by AARP Virginia. Visit the AARP Virginia page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
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