Friday, February 02, 2007

AARP's Assessment & Advocacy in PA & US

On January 31, 2007, an article in the Patriot News (Harrisburg, PA) entitled State action needed on elder care, AARP says, by David Wenner, reported on the current agenda for change in Pennsylvania held by AARP, the Philadelphia-headquartered, national membership association of persons over the age of 50.

Following are some excerpts from the article:

The nation's long-term care system is fragmented and under-funded, and it's especially bad in Pennsylvania, AARP says.

During a symposium yesterday in Harrisburg, AARP outlined its goals for long-term care and hoped to persuade state legislators to take action.

John Rother, AARP's director of policy and strategy, pointed out that most people know little about long-term care, which refers to nursing homes and other programs that provide care for the elderly and disabled. * * *

Rother and other experts from AARP said the nation needs to create a publicly funded long-term care system that ensures access to nursing homes and programs that enable seniors to continue living in their homes or with family.

A major shortcoming in Pennsylvania is the lack of a single access point for long-term care services, they said.

AARP stresses the need for a broad range of long-term care offerings, with no one type of care, such as in nursing homes, considered most important. The organization also emphasizes the need to adequately pay providers, including workers involved with caring for the elderly and disabled.

AARP's advocacy agenda for America is set forth in Reimagining America: AARP's Blueprint For the Future. It is a document directed towards "professionals in aging", and can be downloaded in PDF format here.

The agenda reported by the article for Pennsylvania is consistent with AARP's positions, but is tailored to the Commonwealth's demographics, resources, and systems. For example, see: "Long-Term Care: You Decide Where", on the AARP website, addressed specifically to the needs of Pennsylvanians:

In early 2006, AARP Pennsylvania joined with other advocacy groups to encourage Pennsylvania to make home and community based services a more important part of the long-term care system in Pennsylvania. This Update provides information on developments that took place as a result of that effort, and describes the further need for advocacy on this important issue.

Pennsylvania's state spending on long-term care is heavily weighted toward nursing homes — only a few states use as high a percentage of their funding for long-term care on skilled nursing facilities.

Although Medicaid waiver programs for home and community based care do exist, a more innovative source of assistance for home and community based services is included in Pennsylvania's OPTIONS program, funded by the Pennsylvania lottery. This program assists individuals at income levels up to 300% above poverty with a portion of the costs of home and community based care on a sliding cost-share basis. Equally as important, there is a not a requirement for individuals to be nursing home-eligible in order to participate in the program. * * *

AARP's Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, William D. Novelli, has written position statements posted by AARP, such as "Helping Aging Boomers to Age in Place" (2002).

Most recently, he went beyond the formal AARP "agenda", and considered broadly both the challenges -- and also the opportunities -- presented by the aging "baby boomer" generation. His book, written with Boe Workman, entitled 50+: Igniting a Revolution to Reinvent America (2006), was published by St. Thomas Press and is available at AARP Books & other online or retail outlets.

His book was noted in AARP's Pennsylvania Update Newsletter (Fall, 2006), after Mr. Novelli toured Pittsburgh and Philadelphia during his promotional tour late last year.
A renaissance of social, political and personal activism offers baby boomers an unparalleled opportunity to reinvent our country, according to a new book by AARP CEO Bill Novelli.

In 50+: Igniting a Revolution to Reinvent America, Novelli outlines how the generation that transformed America 40 years ago can now help change the way their children and grandchildren will live in the future.

The boomers' influence, he says, will reinvent the way we work, live and vote -- and even shop.

Baby boomers represent not only a generation great in numbers but also, with people living longer lives, a group that can put their convictions to use well into the future. Areas in which boomers are poised to make a difference include:
  • Making the U.S. health care system more accountable and affordable.
  • Building livable communities, both for themselves and their children.
  • Adding vibrancy -- and products -- to the marketplace.
  • Transforming the way people view the workplace and retirement.
The influence of baby boomers, writes Novelli, will extend to the ballot box, where older voters already make a huge impact. Voters age 50-plus can demand, with greater clarity than ever, that elected officials respond to their needs -- both for their own good and for the benefit of future generations.
AARP provides additional materials about the book, if you are interested:
Other reviews can be found online:
“In laying down the gauntlet to perhaps the most idealistic generation living in the most exciting period of human history, Bill gives us great hope for our future and illuminates a path to fulfillment. Yes, there is life after 50. In fact, we can thrive and leave a lasting, positive legacy.”
--- Naomi Judd, singer, songwriter, & social activist
* * *
Update: 02/20/07:

Naomi Judd also authored a book in 2006 about the potential of the "boomer" generation, as it ages, and the individuals who comprise it, as we (yes, me too) age. See: EE&F Posting
"The Caregivers" Series & Naomi Judd on CBS News (02/20/07).