Protecting the most vulnerable, our senior population, is one of the most important issues that the General Assembly considers. Our senior citizens frequently have unique needs and vulnerabilities that other citizens do not face, such as financial limitations, housing (living independently or in a facility), prescription costs or special health care needs.
I have had the honor of serving on the Oversight Committee on Quality Care in Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities. From this, I learned that Maryland’s Assisted Living Regulations have not been updated in over 14 years. This issue is frequently discussed in the Oversight Committee's quarterly meetings, and it is past time to bring these regulations up to today’s standards. Because of my position on the Oversight Committee, I have been able to introduce or cosponsor a number of pieces of legislation to protect our seniors.
Sponsored or Cosponsored Legislation:
- 2021 SB 704 An “investment firm” from out-of-state purchased a nursing home in Queen Anne County. Shortly after the purchase, the firm cut staff, there were no cleaning supplies available on-site (during COVID-19) and the facility didn't even have hot water accessible. SB704 requires an investigation before an out-of-state investment company can purchase a Maryland nursing home and requires the Maryland Department of Health to conduct additional surveys in the early years after the purchase. We do not want nursing homes closing, but, as a state, we need to be careful to protect one of our most vulnerable populations.
- 2022 SB 28 I was the cosponsor of this important legislation to try to increase “Home and Community Based Waivers.” This will allow Medicaid beneficiaries to continue living in their homes with community-based services, thus avoiding institutionalization.
- 2022 SB 531 I sponsored SB531 after seeing many states regulate smaller assisted living facilities differently than the larger ones. SB531 requires the Maryland Health Care Commission, with various stakeholders, to conduct a study regarding the quality of care by assisted living programs with 9 or fewer beds.
Also in 2022, we passed SB405/HB1468, Retirement Income Subtraction Modifications and Senior Credit. This legislation reduces the income tax for many of our seniors - $1.55 billion in relief for retirees 65 and older making up to $100,000 in retirement income, and married couples making up to $150,000. As a result, 80% of Maryland’s retirees will receive substantial tax relief or pay no state income taxes at all.