— 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 …

— Settlement with LG&E and Kentucky Utilities a Big Win for Kentuckians Kentucky Attorney General’s Office of Rate Intervention settlement with LG&E and KU to save Kentuckians $90 million annually – $33.2 million of that for residential ratepayers. In response to Attorney General Andy Beshear’s announcement that the Office of Rate Intervention has entered into a settlement with LG&E and KU, AARP Kentucky released the following statement by volunteer State President Charlotte Whittaker. “The bottom line is this settlement with LG&E and …

— Public Service Co. of Colorado, owned by Xcel Energy, is proposing a new energy initiative designed to impose significant costs on ratepayers and implement policies that are not in the best interest of consumers. Xcel also is seeking to have customers pay for a $500 million plan to install new meters on every home and small business in its Colorado service area. AARP commissioned a white paper about this issue. Click here. The utility – the state’s largest electricity provider – …

— Resources Offered in Bank Branches and Online will Teach Customers How to Recognize Identity-Theft Schemes A unique educational collaboration was announced Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, between the AARP Fraud Watch Network and People’s United Bank, N.A., with the goal of better protecting consumers in the northeast against fraud and scams. The campaign involves a significant Fraud Watch Network presence in People’s United Bank branches in Massachusetts, as well as Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, and New York, along with digital …

4 States

— Statewide Public Medicaid Coverage Forums Schedule Proposed changes to Kentucky’s Medicaid program are under review by federal officials at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). In August, Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ Department for Medicaid submitted the state’s 1115 Medicaid Waiver to CMS. The demonstration waiver, Kentucky HEALTH (Helping to Engage and Achieve Long Term Health), is now open for the federal public comment period until October 8, 2016. A series of eight public forums are …

— By Miriam Davidson Retired nurse practitioner Hope Busto-Keyes believes in conserving energy. “I jumped on the bandwagon in the ’70s,” the Tucson resident said. “Turning the lights off, and little things like that.” Last year, as a customer of Tucson Electric Power (TEP), Busto-Keyes, 63, wrote a letter to the Arizona Corporation Commission, the state board that regulates utility companies, urging commissioners to support TEP’s plans for energy efficiency standards and customer rebate programs. Now, Busto-Keyes and other advocates worry …

— An informed consumer is better prepared to avoid fraud, and AARP Pennsylvania wants residents to have the information they need to safeguard their money. The state office’s award-winning Consumer Issues Task Force promotes financial security and consumer protection by informing people about misleading and abusive marketplace practices. These AARP volunteers travel around the state giving free presentations to community groups on topics such as online safety, identity theft and investment fraud. Older Americans are particularly susceptible to fraud, according to …

— Fraud targeting taxpayers continues to run rampant nationwide. Watch out for these two tax crimes making headlines: tax identity theft and the IRS imposter scam.     Tax ID Theft   What is it? Your personal information is stolen for a fraudulent refund. More specifically, tax identity theft can involve: filing a tax return using another person’s Social Security number, claiming someone else’s children as dependents, or claiming a tax refund using a deceased taxpayer’s information.   Your personal information …

— By Mark Hollis AARP Texas AUSTIN, Texas — If you’re Janee Briesemeister, the frequent flyer miles add up quickly. In nearly three decades of advocacy for American consumers, Alaska and Hawaii are the only states Briesemeister hasn’t visited for her work. An undisputed national expert on energy, telecommunications and other utility issues, Briesemeister is a well-traveled, Austin-based champion for a host of consumer causes like making utility bills easier to understand and home energy costs more affordable. The former radio …

— AARP Live: Don’t Get Scammed!   Reports show that a majority of American consumers scammed, some 47 percent, are over age 50. Estimates show that victims age 55 and older lose $3 billion dollars annually, but the true amounts are many times higher, because most of these crimes go unreported out of embarrassment. Con artists work overtime finding weak spots in consumers’ defenses. Beating the con artists from stealing your personal information can be done if you learn how to spot these …