AARP Maine Staff and Volunteers Meet with Members of Congress during Virtual Lobby Week

Posted on 05/12/20

Last week, AARP Maine staff and volunteers met virtually with federal lawmakers and their staffs in an effort to secure more help for older Americans and their families as they face growing health and economic challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic. A recent report[1] predicts Maine will be the most economically impacted state from the coronavirus; those who are food-insecure and people who have lost their jobs have been particularly hard hit.

Staff and volunteer leaders from AARP Maine’s Recess Regulars program held virtual meetings with federal lawmakers and their staff. The visits were part of AARP’s nationwide Virtual Lobby Week.

Food Insecurity

Many older Mainers are struggling with food insecurity and this has been heightened by the pandemic. Pamela C. of Thomaston noted the challenge of curb-side pickup options for those relying on SNAP/EBT cards. Paul, a volunteer who lives outside Augusta, shared his experience in being unable to afford nutritious options with his current benefit amount. “There’s just not much I can afford if I’m following my doc’s orders for a healthy diet,” he shared with Senator Collins. To ensure older adults can continue to access food during the pandemic and economic crisis, AARP is urging Congress to temporarily increase both the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) maximum benefit and the minimum monthly benefit. AARP is also asking the USDA to suspend all rulemaking that would restrict SNAP eligibility or reduce benefits, and explore ways to expand access to online grocery shopping and delivery using SNAP benefits, which also helps protect public health.

AARP Maine created a statewide database of grocery stores where Mainers can buy food. This list includes information about availability of new policies that encourage social distancing such as curbside pick-up, delivery, and senior hours. Please follow this link to see the full list.

Ensure Prescriptions Drugs are Affordable

AARP Maine has been fighting, in Augusta and Washington, to bring down Rx prices. The coronavirus crisis highlights more than ever the need to address these skyrocketing Rx costs. The challenges created by high and growing prescription drug prices will only increase as the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect Americans’ incomes and savings. This is especially true for retirees who are living on a fixed income. AARP urges Congress to take action to enact meaningful reform that will both lower prices and out-of-pocket costs to ensure Americans can afford and access needed medications.

Support to State and Local Governments

Maine’s municipalities are struggling even more with decreases in revenues. More financial support will help state and local governments meet emerging needs. States are likely to exhaust their unemployment insurance (UI) trust funds, and AARP has asked Congress to provide grants to ensure benefits continue to be paid.

Access to High-speed Internet Service

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted that access to high-speed and reliable internet is more important than ever. Doctors are using telehealth practices to conduct appointments with patients safely, families are using video conferencing to check in on loved ones and schools have shifted to remote learning. Currently, an estimated 85,000 Maine households lack the ability to connect to high-speed, reliable internet. Maine’s rural communities significantly lag behind when it comes to the availability of high-speed internet. AARP Maine has asked the Maine Congressional delegation to support efforts to expand and secure high-speed internet access to unserved and underserved communities in Maine.

Mainers will have the opportunity to take their own action on this issue as well. On July 14th eligible Mainers will vote on ballot question #1, a referendum providing funding for high-speed internet expansion in Maine. AARP Maine is working to ensure all voters are aware of the upcoming Election Day and know the benefits a Yes on 1 vote will bring to Maine. To learn more about this work please click here. Are you interested in learning more about working with AARP Maine's advocacy team? Join our team of volunteers who advocate on these and other federal issues. To learn more, contact us at me@aarp.org .

To learn more about AARP’s efforts amid the coronavirus pandemic, visit www.aarp.org/coronavirus.


[1] Oxford Economics.” Ranking states by coronavirus structural vulnerabilities.” 2020

This story is provided by AARP Maine. Visit the AARP Maine page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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You can find CDC’s latest coronavirus information at cdc.gov/coronavirus; AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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