AARP to focus on drug price transparency, student loan debt and more for General Assembly
RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- With the General Assembly set to convene for the 2020 Regular Session on Wednesday, many issues will be discussed.
Volunteers with AARP Virginia hope some of those issues will include drug price transparency, a tax credit for family caregivers, help for workers trying to save for retirement, and help for people trying to pay student loan debt.
The State Health Access Data Assistance Center says 23 percent of Virginians stopped taking a prescription medication in 2017 due to the cost, and a recent AARP Public Policy Institute Rx Price Watch Report found the retail prices for more than 250 commonly used brand name medications have increased more than twice the rate of inflation between 2006 and 2017.
“Too many Virginians can't afford to take medication they need, and almost everybody has a story about a prescription that shot up in price without being told why,” said AARP Virginia State Director Jim Dau. “It's time to bring transparency to the system to give Virginians explanations for price increase that, so far, have been inexplicable or unexplained.”
Volunteers will also be asking lawmakers to pass a $1,000 Family Caregiver Tax Credit to help people who take care of their relatives.
AARP says such caregivers tend to spend their own money to keep loved ones out of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
The organization says there a more than one million family caregivers in Virginia who are assisting their parents, spouses, or other loved ones. Such caregivers often help with tasks including bathing, dressing, transportation and more, as well as contributing financially to their loved one's care.
According to a release, family caregivers provided 870 million hours of unpaid care in 2017 and spent an average of $7,000 to $11,000 out of their own pockets.
Delegates Sam Rasoul and Kaye Kory are sponsoring a bill that would create a non-refundable credit to help offset the cost of certain expenses by reducing the amount of state income taxes owed.
AARP Virginia is also pushing for a way to put a secure retirement within reach of people who are working hard and who want to plan for their futures.
Advocates will be asking the General Assembly to pass legislation to create a Work and Save Plan.
And the organization wants to strengthen laws related to student loan services, to penalize “unscrupulous” loan services.
“Nationally, people over 60 have $86 billion in student loan debt, much of it weighing on them because they're helping their children or grandchildren pay for college, and list student loans as looming roadblocks to retirement,” Dau said.
The release says the collective burden of outstanding student loan debt in the United States is greater than any other source of debt except for mortgages.
In Virginia, tuition and fees have been increasing faster than health care prices for almost 20 years.