Headlining a long list of accomplishments by the AARP Idaho team this legislative session, State Director Mark Estess has been selected by Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter to serve on the 19-member board of directors which will “set the rules and regulations for implementing” the state-based health insurance exchange in Idaho.
By organizing a diverse coalition of private and public sector partners, testifying and actively participating in the legislative process, AARP Idaho played a critical leadership role in securing the passage of legislation which established the exchange. This achievement is significant given the fact that Governor Otter was the first to file suit against the federal government in opposition to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Estess will now serve in a voting capacity as one of three consumer-interest representatives.
The state team also achieved its ratepayer and consumer protection goals through its work in the regulatory and rule making process.
AARP Idaho actively opposed a proposal by the largest telecommunications provider in the state that would have eroded important consumer protections leaving the most vulnerable citizens with less recourse during times of land line outages. The legislature directed the Public Utilities Commission to deny the telco proposal and reinstate the prior rule which retained the existing regulatory framework as advocated by AARP.
The state office organized and led a broad-based coalition, including all of the ratepayer customer classes, through the legislative process resulting in a voluntary disclosure agreement for Idaho’s largest utilities to publicly disclose known rate impacts from projected capital improvement and construction costs.
Legislation was also passed and signed into law by the Governor that improves Idaho ratepayers’ statutory protections. The previous laws, dating back to 1913, were inconsistent, contradictory and directly favored utilities.
AARP Idaho provided thought leadership, advocacy and subject matter expertise that resulted in the Legislature adopting the first ever statewide Alzheimer’s Plan. This plan addresses the rising cost of Alzheimer’s disease and identifies ways to mitigate those costs through programs and services.
For more information on legislative issues and volunteer opportunities contact Lee Flinn, Advocacy Director for AARP Idaho. Email: Aflinn@aarp.org or (208) 855-4005.
Photo credit: Lee Flinn