AARP is closely watching studies related to health care access and affordability, home- and community-based services (HCBS), retirement security, property taxes, and other issues important to 50+ North Dakotans now before legislative interim committees.
Specifically, AARP is continuing its focus from the 2013 legislative session on ensuring state implementation of the Affordable Care Act is consumer friendly. The Health Care Reform and Review Interim Committee, chaired by Rep. George Keiser from Bismarck, is overseeing the rollout of Medicaid expansion that AARP successfully supported during the 2013 session. It is expected that more than 3,500 North Dakotans between the ages of 50-64 could gain access to health care with the expansion. We will be watching this committee closely as it also studies the future of health care access in North Dakota.
Aging at Home
The Human Services Interim Committee, chaired by Rep. Chuck Damschen from Hampden, has an important study focusing on how to ensure individuals can remain safely in their homes as long as possible. The HCBS study will look at how the state can expand services under the Medicaid program. This is an important study as North Dakotans biggest worry as they age is how they will safely stay in their homes. Providing options that ensure individuals can do so is not only cost effective, it meets the desires of older North Dakotans. This study will be closely monitored to push AARP supported policies.
Additionally, during the 2013 session AARP fought hard to ensure retirement security. The legislature decided to study the future of state retirement plans and whether they should be switched from a defined benefit (Social Security like) plan to a defined contribution (401k like) plan. The Government Finance Interim Committee, chaired by Rep. Jeff Delzer from Underwood, will oversee this study. AARP policy supports a secure defined benefit as part of a retirement portfolio that includes Social Security, your defined benefit, personal savings (401K would fall under this category) and access to health insurance. We have opposed bills to change or eliminate the state’s defined benefit plan in the past and will watch this study to see if any legislation comes from the committee.
Property tax relief was a hot topic during the 2012 election and 2013 session. After passing more than $860 million in property tax relief, the Interim Taxation Committee, chaired by Senator Dwight Cook from Mandan, will now look at how property tax relief is being implemented at the local level. Further, the committee will explore policies limiting local property tax and other policy options. AARP has strong policy in support of providing property tax relief through broadening the methods of financing public education and also providing relief in an equitable manner to low- to moderate-income homeowners and renters through programs like the Homestead Tax Credit. We had some very good success in the 2013 session and will work hard to expand upon those successes as the committee discusses this issue.
In addition to these high-priority items, AARP will be monitoring other committees and studies. These studies range from housing needs, transportation options, and expanding scope of practice of community paramedics to meet public health needs in rural areas.
Become a Volunteer Advocate
We can always use more volunteers to help us monitor and advocate for issues of importance to our members. For additional information on the studies AARP is watching or to get involved in advocating for AARP positions on these issues, email Josh Askvig at email@example.com or call him at 701-355-3642.