By Andrea Meyer, AARP Oregon Government Relations Director
AARP Oregon will be zealously advocating on the rights of the 50-plus and their families. There will be many important issues before the Oregon legislature, starting with ongoing and unknown budgetary challenges in a time of economic crisis. We will help lead efforts to preserve the budget that protects seniors, especially the most vulnerable living in long-term care facilities.
Here are our priority issues. We will add more information as the session progresses.
Workplace Age Discrimination
We are working with other organizations to advance our priority issue, workplace age discrimination. In 2020, we helped introduce a Workplace Age Discrimination Task Force bill, bringing together the various stakeholders and legislators to identify and evaluate the impacts of age discrimination in the workplace. The bill was set to pass but because of the walk-out, it was at the House desk upon adjournment.
We are back in 2021 with the same proposal, our bill Workplace Age Discrimination Task Force HB 2938. We will be urging legislators to pass this bill and you can read more about the issue and see all the endorsing organizations in our briefing paper.
Since the onset of COVID, businesses have sought special legal protections against lawsuits for claims of negligence. These legislative proposals, during the three special sessions of 2020 would strip away the rights and protections of long-term care (LTC) residents. Indeed the first attempt, a sweeping proposal, HB 2638 has already been introduced for 2021. We will oppose this and any other similar efforts.
Nursing homes and other LTC facilities play an important role in America’s Long-term care Services and Supports system. Tragically as of mid-January, more than 920 Oregon residents of congregate care have lost their lives due to COVID-19, representing over 50% of the number of COVID-related deaths in Oregon. While there may be some circumstances beyond facilities’ control for which they should not be held responsible, it is essential that long-term care providers, as well as health care providers more broadly, remain responsible for any negligent actions to ensure long-term care residents have some protection and opportunity for redress.
Pursuing a nursing home neglect or abuse case in court is not easy to do. There already are many significant barriers to accessing the courts, including a cap on damages and arbitration requirements as part of the resident admission agreement. No family member who has lost a loved one due to neglect or abuse pursues this course of action lightly. It is always an option of last resort, but it must remain an option.
We will be updating you more as the session proceeds and asking you to advocate on behalf of AARP Oregon. If you have not already, please add your name to our email action alert system www.aarp.org/getinvolved. We ask members to contact lawmakers during key times. Legislators listen to their constituents and your voice, on behalf of over 503,000 Oregon AARP members will be critical. Please join our efforts this session.
This story is provided by AARP Oregon. Visit the AARP Oregon page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
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