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Standing Up for Our Veterans
As Senate Chair of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, it has been my honor to lead passage of bills to benefit the men and women who fight in our national defense. In the Senate this year, we passed legislation to honor troops coming home to Connecticut with “Welcome Home” messages on electronic highway signs across the state.
We also took action to waive any interest owed on property taxes for members of the military serving in Afghanistan. Current law only waives such interest for soldiers serving in Iraq—a great oversight. No veteran should have to come home to a tax bill that accrued interest during their service half-way around the world.
A third bill will permit local school boards to award high school diplomas to Korean War veterans who left high school early for military service.
And finally, to ease the burden on veterans’ families during a time of grief, we voted to waive the $20 fee for one certified copy of a veteran’s death certificate, upon request of a deceased veteran’s spouse, child or parent.
Our soldiers make every sacrifice for their country, and these bills should provide them with a little more assistance from back here at home.
Keeping Seniors in their Homes
Seniors who can stay in their homes—as opposed to entering nursing facilities—live longer, better quality lives. Eighty percent of Connecticut residents would like to remain in their homes, according to the Connecticut Commission on Aging. In addition, the difference in cost is significant.
Long-term care costs the state $2.4 billion and represents 13 percent of the overall state budget, 49 percent of the Department of Social Services budget and 53 percent of our Medicaid budget. Those expenses are expected to more than double by 2015 if no action is taken. Only 35 percent of those long-term care dollars are spent on home and community-based services; the rest goes to institutional care.
This year, I am supporting legislation to expand Medicaid coverage in order to help keep those seniors who do not need intensive nursing care out of nursing facilities and in their homes. By rebalancing our long-term care system, we can realize significant budget savings while giving seniors the type of care that they truly want and deserve.
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