Making Our Communities Healthy, Sustainable, and Affordable
CT has always ranked high for its quality of life. Even when pushed, some of our toughest critics admit that this is a beautiful state that takes pride in taking care of every citizen. But as our society changes, we must also adapt our communities. House Democrats propose seven ways that we can make sure our communities remain healthy, sustainable, and affordable:
- Eliminate the State Income Tax on Social Security Payments
- Provide Supports for our Growing In-Home Care Workforce
- Expand Support for Aging in Place Programs
- Invest in Community Care Teams
- Focus on Patient Health
- Harness our Public Dollars to Make More Vibrant Cities
- Build Housing Near Public Transit Systems
Solution: Eliminate the state income tax on Social Security payments.
We are one of only 13 states who tax Social Security. Retirees are already struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living on their fixed incomes. The least we can do is provide them this tax break.
Solution: Provide Supports for our Growing In-Home Care Workforce
As the baby boomers move into retirement, our state has an increasing need for homecare workers. It is projected by 2018 there will be over 18,000 people employed as Home Health Aides, and that doesn’t even take into account the countless homemaker/companion services (some estimates put that group at over 20,000 workers). We recognize that these jobs are both physically and emotionally demanding. And we are committed to taking care of those that take care of our sick or aging loved ones.
Solution: Expand Support for Aging in Place Programs
Not only is it more cost effective to keep seniors living in their homes but it is also what seniors want. Visiting nurses, homemaker companions, and other skilled people that come to their homes make remaining at home possible.
The Department of Rehabilitative Services provides grants to help people pay for home modifications for things like accessibility grab bars, ramps, stair lifts, etc. to allow people to remain at home and avoid more expensive nursing home care. We need to expand on this program so we can help more seniors Age in Place. We will also work with local communities to ensure that their zoning laws keep up with the needs of changing families, but also keep people safe and preserve local character.
Solution: Reduce Emergency Room Costs by Investing in Community-Based Care
Emergency care is the most expensive type of health care, and yet many of our hospitals are plagued by frequent users who have high needs. House Democrats will invest in community-based care teams by bringing together our hospitals, non-profit organizations, state agencies, and community groups to focus on improving health outcomes for vulnerable populations, including those who are homeless and people with chronic physical and mental illnesses and substance use issues.
Solution: Focus on Patient Health
We need to move towards a healthcare system that is focused on patient health. Connecticut spends billions of dollars on healthcare annually. How our state spends money on health care can have a significant impact in the marketplace. House Democrats will convene all stakeholders - hospitals, insurers, patient advocates, community clinics, doctors, nurses - to better leverage these dollars to preserve local healthcare, community hospitals, and push best practices.
We also will work to cut costs to the healthcare system and costs to the patient. Many times patients are unable to get an estimate of how much a service is going to cost ahead of time so they can compare prices.
Solution: Harness our Public Dollars to Create More Livable and Vibrant Cities
In 2013 the General Assembly created The Livable Communities Initiative. The Livable Communities concept is not only about creating communities that will attract our young people and keep them home in our state, but it is also about helping our seniors age in place and remain in their homes and communities. Livable communities foster independence and support residents across their lifespan. They offer affordable, accessible, and diverse housing and transportation options and public buildings and spaces; supportive communities features and services; and vibrancy and opportunities for community engagement. They engage residents in civic and social life, and allow people to remain in their homes and communities. They will enhance the quality of life for all residents, create tremendous economic value in towns and cities, promote healthy living, and support environmental sustainability.
House Democrats will work to incentivize the adoption of municipal and regional complete street policies to accommodate all modes of transportation. We believe that through collaboration with non-transportation partners, including housing, healthcare, public health, planning and zoning, social services, law enforcement, and the business community we can build communities that will last.
Creating transit-oriented development plazas requires significant planning that can be expensive, and difficult for our cities and towns to afford on their own. House Democrats will work to develop a resource team to be made available to any municipality that is looking to develop its main street into more of a pedestrian-friendly, transit-oriented development plaza.
Solution: Building housing near public transit systems
The millennial generation is beginning to transform our economy, and CT needs to move quickly to make sure we are competing in that marketplace. One of the biggest areas of transformation is millennials’ interest in living in urban areas with public transit systems. Our large cities – Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport, Waterbury, Stamford – need to be able to compete for these residents. We are committed to working with our partners in our urban areas to create pedestrian-friendly plazas, with housing and public transit, to attract the millennial generation.