Sioux Falls, SD
As the group of aging South Dakotans gets larger, their voice gets louder. Tuesday is AARP Lobby Day in Pierre and members will soon descend on the capitol to get their message heard.
"We really hope that our volunteers talk to their legislators about two key issues," South Dakota AARP Director Sarah Jennings said.
Jennings says the first issue is Medicaid funding. They first need to thank the governor and lawmakers for proposing more money for the program, but also need to secure future money.
"The state is in a tough fiscal situation. So, we're tightening our belts everywhere we can. But we’re really glad that folks saw that as a priority. We have to make sure our long term care providers have the funds they need to provide the care that folks want," Jennings said.
The other issue they want to tackle is the elderly and disabled tax credit.
"It helps about 3,000 South Dakotans every year and the funding has been proposed and we’re going to talk to the legislators and make sure it makes it through the process in the end," Jennings said.
She says the state has to get ready for a growing aging population. One of the biggest concerns she hears from members is that they want to be able to stay in their home as they get older.
"No longer is it, just assume that you're going to get older and head to the nursing home. Now that’s appropriate care for some people. But for others, maybe they only need help getting stuff done around the house or getting a meal brought in and those are the kind of services that we're going to need more and more of all over the state," Jennings said.
She also says it's a trip that gives many people a chance to see friends from across the state they normally don't get to.
The AARP members who traveled to Pierre will also have lunch with lawmakers and watch both the Senate and House floor discussions before returning home.