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Legislative and Advocacy Organizations in Massachusetts
On Beacon Hill
National Legislative and Advocacy Organizations

With the aging of the population, and life expectancy increasing due to advances in research and clinical care, the issues of the elderly have become increasingly important in public discussions and public policy. The role of family caregivers and policies related to elder caregiving have often been neglected in the past, but this has started to change as public recognition of the importance of the work caregivers do is growing.

In Massachusetts, and nationally, there are a number of organizations that promote legislation, influence public policy, conduct research and provide public education on a wide range of issues of concern to elders and caregivers. These groups advocate for improved elder resources and improved support for caregivers both in the Massachusetts state legislature and in Congress.

Across Massachusetts, most of the 27 ASAPs (Aging Service Access Points) publish online and printed newsletters to provide current information about issues of concern to elders and their caregivers, such as the new drug benefits available under Medicare Part D, and the new state legislation to expand health insurance coverage to the uninsured.

The Massachusetts Association of Councils On Aging and Senior Center Directors (MCOA) provides legislative updates and other useful information in its monthly newsletter, which can be downloaded from the website: Massachusetts Association of Councils On Aging. Call 413-527-6425 for information.

This section of the Handbook provides a brief description of some of the key organizations that are working on issues of concern to elders and caregivers in Massachusetts, although the list is by no means exhaustive.

Boston Partnership for Older Adults is a coalition of over 70 organizations working to ensure that all older adults have the support and resources needed to age with dignity. Through education, improved access to information and services, as well as increased collaboration among Boston's aging service providers and funders, they work to build a system for older adults and their care partners that values independence and choice. See Boston Partnership for Older Adults . Phone: 617-426-5124. E-mail: info@bostonolderadults.org.

Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO) is a broad-based grassroots organization which works to coalesce, train, and organize the communities of Greater Boston across all religious, racial, ethnic, class and neighborhood lines for the public good. Some of the issues on which GBIO has focused its efforts include universal access to health care, youth and safety, and elder care. They work to increase supports for family caregivers, including greater resources to care for elders in their homes and communities and improved conditions and career opportunities for home health aides (also known as personal care attendants). See Boston Partnership for Older Adults , or call 617-825-5600.

Massachusetts Association of Older Americans (MAOA) is a statewide advocacy organization that works to keep elders in the mainstream of life. They work on policies to preserve justice, dignity, economic security and health for all seniors and their families. See Mass. Association of Older Americans, or call 617-426-0804, or E-mail: advocacy@MAOmass.org

Mass Senior Action Council (MSAC) is a grassroots organization promoting the rights and wellbeing of senior citizens. Through community organizing and legislative advocacy MSAC works to improve health care, transportation, housing, and income security for elders and their caregivers. Mass Senior Action Council (MSAC), or call 617-442-3330.

Massachusetts Chapter of Alzheimer's Association advocates for quality of care in both community and long-term care settings, and supports the expansion of benefits and services to elders living at home. Massachusetts Chapter of Alzheimer's Association or 800-272-3900.

Mass Home Care provides useful information for seniors and their caregivers about a wide range of health and community-based programs serving elders and advocates for more resources for home care. Their website includes a Consumer News section that provides up to date information on such topics as healthcare, Medicare, Medicaid eligibility and taxes.

Multicultural Coalition on Aging (MCA) is comprised of over 75 agencies, institutions and numerous private citizens in the greater Boston area. The MCA is dedicated to the delivery of culturally competent care, including educational, clinical, and research programs for elders. The Coalition hosts the bi-annual "Aging Well Together" conferences in 10 languages for a diverse group of older adults to share health information and increase access to care. Professional symposia are organized that focus on cultural competence in the delivery of health care and social services. See the Hebrew Senior Life website for the link: Hebrew Senior Life > Institute for Aging Research (in the right-hand navigation bar) > Multicultural Coalition on Aging (in the left-hand navigation bar). Events information and current contact information are provided on the site.

SeniorsConnect serves the Greater Boston area and works to empower seniors and train them as community builders in urban neighborhoods. The mission of SeniorsConnect is to assist motivated elders to strengthen their connections with each other and join forces for richer lives in community engagement. Their programs promote better health, self-confidence, and leadership skills among seniors. See SeniorsConnect, or call 617-491-6650.

LGBT Aging Project works to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender elders and their caregivers have equal access to the benefits, protections, and aging programs, services, and institutions that their heterosexual neighbors rely on. The LGBT Aging Project has a 10-Point Action Plan to ensure that LGBT citizens and taxpayers have full access to mainstream services, and a real choice about whether or not to use them. They teach service providers how and why to create an LGBT-friendly atmosphere and culturally appropriate programs and services. Go to LGBT Aging Project , or call 617-522-6700, ext. 307.

Stonewall Audobon Circle / Stonewall Communities Lifelong Learning Institute is the nation's first inclusive urban residential community developed by an LGBT organization, "Stonewall Communities" has partnered with "Abbott Development" to build "Stonewall Audubon Circle". "Stonewall Audobon Circle" is open to all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender elders and their caregivers, et al. Go to Stonewall Audobon Circle / Stonewall Communities Lifelong Learning Institute , or call 617-369-9090 (Stonewall Communities Lifelong Learning Institute / Stonewall Audobon Circle).

The Massachusetts state legislature (known as the General Court of the Commonwealth) has a number of committees that work on elder care policy. The committee most directly charged with this task is the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs. Its mandate is as follows:

"It shall be the duty of the Committee on Elder Affairs to consider all matters concerning the elderly, handicapped elders, nursing facilities, prescription drugs, reverse mortgages, senior pharmacy and such other matters as may be referred.

To learn more about the membership and activities of this committee and others, go to: Mass.Gov. From this home page you can receive:

Information on how to contact members of the Elder Affairs Committee, click "Committees," then click "Joint Committee on Elder Affairs";

Information on a particular piece of elder care legislation, click "Texts of Senate bills" or "Text of House Bills";

Information on when committees will discuss these bills, click "Hearings"; and

Information about what your own state representative and your own state senator are doing on the issues you care about, click "By city/town" to get their names and phone numbers.

American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is the largest organization of seniors in the United States. Their "Grassroots America" initiative is designed to mobilize their 35 million members to more positively impact the outcome of legislative debates and elections on both the state and national levels. Their legislative and policy goals include: preserving Medicaid's critical safety net, keeping Social Security solvent for future generations, and advocating for quality health care that is equitable, broad-based, and affordable. American Association of Retired Persons, or call 888-OUR-AARP. For a local AARP chapter, call 888-687-2277 or go to American Association of Retired Persons.

National Center on Caregiving is a program of the Family Caregiver Alliance. The NCC is a central source of information and technnical assistance on caregiving and long-term care for policy makers,health and service providers, media, program developers, funders and families. NCC research and publications document emerging trends and caregiver needs and services throughout the country. Go to: Family Caregiver Alliance > Public Policy and Research. For more information about the National Center on Caregiving, contact them at info@caregiver.org, or call 800-445-8106.

National Council on the Aging works for older Americans to improve health, find employment, and improve access to government and private benefits for older Americans. It is a leading advocate on national issues affecting seniors and has shaped programs such as "Meals on Wheels" and "Foster Grandparents." It also leads a nationwide network of collaborating organizations to advocate for and provide ways to improve the quality of life for elders. General information at the website: National Council on the Aging, or call the national office at 202-479-1200. (TDD: 202-479-6674).

National Senior Citizen's Law Center advocates nationwide to promote the independence and well-being of low-income elderly individuals and persons with disabilities through litigation, legislation, and agency representation and assistance to attorneys and paralegals in field programs. The NSCLC website provides up to date policy information on issues of concern to elders and caregivers. National Senior Citizen's Law Center, or call 202-289-6976.

National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA) supports, empowers, educates, and advocates for over 50 million people caring for an aged, chronically ill, or disabled loved one, regardless of their situation, diagnoses, relationships or life stage. The website has information about eligible tax deductions for care giving. See: National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA), or call 1-800-896-3650.

In addition to the organizations above, there are a number of organizations linked to specific diseases such as cancer and heart disease that have significant advocacy and legislative initiatives of benefit to elders and their caregivers. For a list of these groups, see Section IV, Caregiver Support, under "National Resources for Caregiver Support."

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2007 All Rights Reserved