With the scheduled end of the 2017 Texas legislative session approaching, AARP continues to fight for passage of several bills that aim to improve nursing home quality, ease the stress of family caregivers, protect older Texans from financial exploitation, and help consumers avoid and respond to surprise medical charges.

Here’s a brief overview of some of the issues the AARP Texas team is working on at the state Capitol:

Nursing Home Quality and Safety:

Texans deserve quality care that ensures the safety and comfort of loved ones. The current state of Texas nursing homes is subpar and has the potential to cause harm to nursing home residents. In 2015, out of 17,466 nursing home violations, the state took action on only 40 violations. AARP urges Texas lawmakers to hold nursing home operators and owners accountable for when they hurt residents and jeopardize their health.

Family Caregivers: More than 3 million Texans currently care for a family member as an unpaid caregiver. The Caregiving, Advice, Record, Enable (CARE) Act would help support family caregivers as they transition loved ones from the hospital, to their home. It would also ensure that hospitals and rehabilitation facilities provide information and live instruction of medical tasks to enable caregivers to better care for their loved ones. AARP urges lawmakers to pass the CARE Act that helps empower and inform Texas caregivers.

AARP additionally supports the funding of respite programs that allow caregivers a break from their duties to take care of themselves. The physical and emotional health of Texas caregivers is important and that is why funding for respite programs should be adopted.

Elder Financial Exploitation: Texas lawmakers can reduce financial exploitation of the elderly by building community coordination centers to help victims of financial exploitation. AARP Texas advocates on behalf of its 2.3 million members to strengthen adult protective services laws and to enact legislation that supports and empowers financial professionals to identify and halt potential exploitation before it occurs.

Surprise Medical Bills: Unexpected costs and bills can cause families financial hardship and worry. AARP urges the passage of legislation that helps to protect people from surprise medical bills by keeping consumers out of medical bill disputes between insurers and doctors. It also allows neighborhood clinics to challenge surprise medical bills that occur.

Guardianship: AARP is continuing to push for funding of the Guardianship Compliance Project, which will allow the Office of Court Administration to hire staff to better oversee the $5 billion in assets under court and guardian control in Texas.

— By Liz Steele

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