— In recognition of his work during the 2017 Regular Texas Legislative Session, state Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) has been presented a Texas Legislative Leadership Award from AARP Texas, a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization for older Texans. Hancock, who chairs the Senate Business and Commerce Committee, sponsored major legislation during the regular session to help combat elder financial abuse and surprise medical bills. The bills, backed by AARP, have been signed into law by the governor. A bill Hancock …

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— Natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey can create high levels of stress and anxiety for survivors. Research shows most recover but others can suffer psychological disorders like post-tramautic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. Those who need to talk are urged to seek help. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) has made its disaster distress helpline available at 800-985-5990 to serve those experiencing emotional distress related to a natural …

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— Federal officials have taken action to ensure that Medicare will pay for nursing homes stays for victims of Hurricane Harvey. Generally, Medicare doesn’t cover long-term care. But it pays for a limited nursing home stay after someone has been hospitalized and needs rehabilitation. In those cases, Medicare reimburses for the skilled nursing services after someone has been treated in a hospital for at least three days. Last week, officials with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a waiver …

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— To help loved ones stranded by Hurricane Harvey, federal health officials have relaxed rules dealing with how hospitals and medical providers share certain information about patients. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has given hospitals and medical providers permission to let family members know if their loved one is a patient at their facility and to talk with them about the individual’s condition and care needs. The relaxation of the HIPAA privacy rules enables easy communication between …

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— Medical stations are open in Houston and Dallas by Victoria Sackett Thousands of people rescued from rooftops and plucked from rising water during Hurricane Harvey had to leave everything behind. For many, prescription drugs were among the items they abandoned. Missing days of essential medicine can pose a health threat and adds to the sense of panic people feel during such emergencies — especially natural disasters. Fortunately, disaster response teams and medical units have been set up across the ravaged …

— By Gabrielle Wilkosz Whether it’s windstorms, floods or wildfires, Texas endures some of the worst of Mother Nature’s wrath. That’s why it’s vital for the 50+ community, and friends and family, to prepare for unfavorable and even dangerous weather conditions. During the 2017 hurricane season, which runs through November, precautionary measures like assembling a hurricane toolkit, registering with a special needs shelter, and mapping out an evacuation plan can put your mind at ease and possibly save lives. Plan ahead …

— By Laura Tillman Marie-Pierre Stien of Houston is a creative person fond of trying new things. A school administrator, she writes flash fiction—stories of less than 500 words—and she’s working on illustrations she will give away to people. It’s not surprising that Stien, 54, isn’t intimidated by social media. She uses Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for her artistic endeavors and for advocacy and outreach. Stien is taking on a relatively new online medium—the podcast—produced by AARP in Houston. The online …

— Texans have reason to cheer a significant act of progress out of the legislative session. Late Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 507, which bolsters patient protections against surprise medical billing. Surprise medical billing occurs when an insured person receives out-of-network care (often in emergency care situations, like visits to neighborhood emergency clinics), and later get hit with medical charges that can far exceed what’s covered by the patient’s insurance. The AARP Texas-supported legislation was sponsored by …

— Telemedicine – or telehealth – could soon take firmer hold in Texas under legislation recently sent to the governor that would help patients meet with physicians via smartphone, tablet or computer. Employers and private insurers are already embracing the trend as a means of making healthcare more affordable and convenient, and as a step toward avoiding costly emergency room and doctor’s office visits. The Texas House and Senate approved Senate Bill 1107, which eases some of the state’s restrictions on …

— Texas lawmakers today finalized a measure that gives important new rights to millions of unpaid family caregivers. A priority for AARP, House Bill 2425 (companion to Senate Bill 1417) would help Texans when their loved ones go into the hospital and as they transition home. The legislation goes next to the governor’s desk. The measure would ensure hospital patients’ designated family caregivers are offered instruction in providing needed care at home. The measure is vital because unpaid family caregivers often …