In response to the Fiscal Year 2013 state budget, passed yesterday by the Massachusetts House and Senate, Bill Johnston-Walsh, state director of AARP Massachusetts – which represents more than 800,000 members age 50 and older in the commonwealth – issued the following statement:
“AARP commends legislators for protecting vulnerable older residents who rely on vital programs provided by this great commonwealth, such as: elder nutrition, adult day health services, the nursing home bed hold, the personal needs allowance for nursing home residents, Prescription Advantage, Councils on Aging, the Massachusetts Money Management Program, and more.
“Still, an unconscionable reality continues: More than 1,000 seniors remain on a waiting list to receive needed home care services – and, level funding for this program is inadequate. Older Massachusetts residents want to remain in their homes and communities as they age. But to do so successfully, critical services – like home care – must be available at the community level to help seniors stay healthy, maintain their independence and avoid more costly institutional care.
AARP will continue to fight for a better balance of high quality and affordable long term care services and supports in the commonwealth. Our growing aging population deserves no less, and our fiscal responsibility should demand it.
“Further, AARP questions the legislature’s action to weaken the prescription drug gift ban law, put in place to help protect consumers against spiraling health care costs – in particular, rising prescription prices. Consumers should not have to foot the bill when drug companies wine and dine doctors at restaurants across the Bay State – especially when prescription drug spending continues to be the fastest growing medical expenditure for consumers, and drug prices continue to climb.
“Bottom line: Prescribing decisions are too important to be tainted by marketing practices. By funding a state-sponsored, evidence-based outreach and education program for prescribers – called academic detailing – state legislators have signaled the importance of providing unbiased information about the therapeutic use and cost effectiveness of prescription drugs to doctors and medical professionals.
“AARP urges Gov. Deval Patrick to put consumers first and protect the prescription drug gift ban law by vetoing Outside Sections 110-112 of the Fiscal Year 2013 state budget.”