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AARP Maryland Celebrates Landmark Legislative Wins for Caregivers and Energy Customers

Posted on 04/08/24

AARP Maryland is applauding the passage of two hotly-contested pieces of legislation that will put money back into the pockets of Maryland families:

SB 202: Financial Relief for Family Caregivers
Marylanders caring for older loved ones may be eligible for financial relief with the passage of SB 202, which establishes the Caregiver Expense Grant Program in the Department of Aging to award grants to family caregivers of older adults to offset some of their expenses. Governor Wes Moore signed the measure into law on April 25.

In 2023, AARP’s report “Valuing the Invaluable” estimated the total cost of uncompensated care by a family caregiver in Maryland to be $ $12 billion. Additionally, that same report indicated that a family caregiver spends over 660 hours per year caring for a loved one.

“Today’s family caregivers come from every age, racial, and socioeconomic group, and include both men and women,” said AARP Senior Associate State Director for Advocacy Tammy Bresnahan. “In addition to helping with daily activities, family caregivers frequently coordinate access to services and supports and provide complex health care. Many do all of this on top of managing their own lives, jobs, and often those of other family members—others must give up their employment and only source of income to meet these demands.”

“These are just two of the many actions taken on behalf of the 50+ by AARP Maryland staff and volunteers during the 2024 legislative session. We applaud the members of the General Assembly who supported these measures. AARP Maryland will continue to advocate for lower costs of prescriptions, support for caregivers, regulatory reform of long-term care facilities, fair consumer protections in the marketplace as well as strengthening Social Security,” said Hank Greenberg, AARP Maryland state director. “And we will do it with the support of our many outstanding volunteers throughout the state.”

SB 1:  Consumer Protections for Retail Energy Customers
SB 1 Electricity and Gas – Retail Supply – Regulation and Consumer Protection addresses issues in Maryland's third-party retail energy market. It requires energy salespersons to obtain a three-year state license, sets qualifications and establishes penalties for violations. In deregulated markets, consumers must receive savings when switching suppliers. The bill ensures electric suppliers offering renewable energy credits provide genuine clean energy. It also mandates increased staffing at the Maryland Public Service Commission for better oversight of retail companies.

“After more than 20 years of deregulation, what we know is that, after an introductory “teaser” rate is offered, the retail energy contracts include language legally allowing the energy rates to convert to variable rates,” said AARP Maryland Senior Associate State Director for Advocacy Tammy Bresnahan. “These variable rates have no regulatory oversight. Often these contracts contain high cancellation fees and automatic renewals, leaving customers feeling trapped in a cycle of overbilling. SB 1 brings accountability and transparency so customers can make an informed choice.”

“The industry and their teams of high-paid lobbyists fought tooth and nail against this legislation, but, in the end,it is Maryland ratepayers who prevailed,” Bresnahan added.

The bill is awaiting Governor Moore's signature.

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AARP is the nation's largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence, and 850,000 members in Maryland, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to the more than 100 million Americans 50-plus and their families: health and financial security, and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest-circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org/about-aarp/, www.aarp.org/español or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspañol and @AARPadvocates on social media.

 

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

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