The state budget better prepares the NC for the growing aging of the population

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RALEIGH – For several years, AARP members and other advocates working to meet the needs of seniors in North Carolina have called on state lawmakers to make the necessary investments to help meet the needs of the elderly segment. fastest growing population in the state – adults aged 60 and over.

Today in North Carolina, more than 15.6% of the state’s residents are 65 and over, and that number will continue to rise as baby boomers age. This is why AARP is pleased that, even after a very long debate on the budget, the governor and the legislature have finally reached a bipartite agreement to provide the financial support necessary for better care of the elderly.

State investments to be made more livable communities for people of all ages, solving the long-term care issues exposed by COVID-19, reducing food insecurity, improving physical activity and expanding technology that will make healthcare more accessible in the long term are several of the positive results of this budget. year.

AARP North Carolina Director Mike Olender explains, “During this legislative session, AARP members have reached out to their lawmakers time and time again to emphasize what is most important when it comes down to it. concerns their health and economic security. Significant progress has been made through policy changes and financial support. We look forward to continuing into the next year and beyond, including the small start-up costs of a program that will make it easier for workers to save for their retirement.

Investing in care for the elderly

An important lesson learned in the nearly two years the state has been affected by the pandemic is the importance of improving long-term care, both in institutions and by supporting programs that allow individuals to grow old in their own homes and communities.

For example, increases in Personal needs allowance, the allowance for residents of nursing homes who have no assets or income to pay for incidentals such as toiletries and postage stamps, has been increased from $ 46 to $ 70 per month, the first increase in decades.

AARP has sought solutions to meet the direct care staff, those caring for the elderly in nursing homes as well as home care. Low wages and difficult working conditions make it difficult to recruit and retain these workers. Salary increases and bonuses for direct care workers have been included in the budget to help deal with this workforce crisis.

Other advancements for North Carolina seniors include:

  • A permanent increase in support for home and community services (HCBS) ($ 6.4 million by 2023) and the inclusion of a new fund to support innovative programs – helping to rebalance long-term care options and allowing more to get the care they need. they need while staying in their home and community.
  • Increased support of nearly $ 5 million for the Adult protection services program that aims to combat elder abuse and exploitation – both for staffing and program improvement.
  • $ 40 million to North Carolina food banks to help alleviate food insecurity made worse by the pandemic.
  • Almost $ 3.6 million for nutritional services for old people
  • Significant new funding ($ 1 billion) for broadband infrastructure, broadband service mapping, awareness and digital literacy – all essential for telehealth, social connectivity, jobs and access to information.
  • Over $ 29 million to the Complete Trail Fund and $ 169 million in funding earmarked for trails and greenways which will help increase physical activity, enable healthy active aging, increase transportation choices and stimulate economic development.
  • $ 2 million for feasibility studies of shared use tracks (bicycle / pedestrian).
  • Almost a million dollars for Rural transport assistance and mobility of the elderly and disabled.

Policy improvements include items such as regulatory modernization to provide flexibility for reimbursement rates for adult child care centers. The bill also establishes a joint legislative study committee on access to health care and the expansion of Medicaid. By working with our partners, we were successful in defeating a provision for new adult nursing home accreditation that would bypass the inspection of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, and instead constitute a 2 year pilot program with AARP NC appointed to stakeholder advisory group.
AARP’s director of advocacy and community outreach in North Carolina, Lisa Riegel, said she was very pleased with the outcome. “This budget makes significant progress on the continuum of care for seniors and improvements to make communities age-friendly. By 2022, there is still a lot to do to help workers are saving for retirement, find long-term solutions to access to health care and stabilize our workforce in direct care.

If you want to get involved in helping North Carolina continue to make progress in meeting the needs of its aging population – sign up for AARP Advocacy Alerts today.


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