Frankfort is quiet – for now. Kentucky’s General Assembly officially adjourned April 15 after dealing with 941 filed bills and crafting the state’s two-year, $21 billion budget. Every Session is unique and generates compromises, agreements and disagreements on every imaginable issue. For AARP Kentucky, its primary focus this Session was on the needs of the state’s 650,000 family caregivers and the nearly 77,000 retired teachers in the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System.
AARP Kentucky Grassroots activists and staff work year-round on the issues that matter most to our members, including caregiving and enhancing retirement security. During the 2016 General Assembly, dedicated AARP grassroots volunteers led by AARP Kentucky State President Jim Kimbrough and guided by staff worked long-hours covering numerous legislative issues. Early in the Session, AARP launched a major grassroots push with volunteers at its AARP Lobby Day in support of family caregivers and the Kentucky Family Caregivers Act. (Watch a clip of AARP Kentucky volunteer and family caregiver Charles Williams at Lobby Day 2016 in the Capitol.)
Kentucky Family Caregivers Act - House Bill 519
AARP’s Kentucky Family Caregivers Act (House Bill 519) successfully passed in the House 94-0, but fell short of final passage in the 2016 General Assembly.
House Bill 519 stalled late in the Session, but while AARP made efforts to bring the bill before the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, no additional action was taken. The bill’s fate was sealed, in part, due to politics in the General Assembly.
While disappointed, AARP Kentucky volunteers and staff successfully set the stage for future legislative action by educating and elevating the needs of family caregivers before lawmakers, the Governor and the media.
Today, Kentucky has some 650,000 unpaid family caregivers delivering care at an estimated 6.9 billion dollars annually. In brief, the Kentucky Family Caregivers Act recognized the critical role family caregivers play in keeping their loved ones out of costly institutions. The bill featured three important provisions:
- The name of the family caregiver is recorded when a loved one is admitted into a hospital;
- The family caregiver is notified if the loved one is to be discharged to another facility or back home;
- The facility should provide an explanation and live instruction of the medical tasks – such as medication management, injections, wound care, and transfers – that the family caregiver will perform at home.
Telehealth Monitoring – House Bill 95
Now that Governor Matt Bevin has signed House Bill 95 into law, over time the pilot project is expected to increase access to telehealth technologies helping family caregivers give care for their loved ones in their own home. Once fully realized in-home telemonitoring will help connect health care providers to rural Kentuckians and reduce taxpayer funded Medicaid costs. Its goal is to reduce costly and difficult travel to medical providers, increase remote patient monitoring helping patients and physicians track health conditions at home.
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse - Senate Bill 114
Modernizing Kentucky’s health care laws will now include allowing Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN’s) to provide care to the full extent of their education and training. The changes will increase consumer access to health care services, especially in rural regions, by changing outdated regulations that deny patient access to nurse practitioners who have the education, training and skills to provide primary care.
State Budget - Kentucky Teachers Retirement System
Lawmakers reached a final agreement on the state’s two-year spending plan only hours before the end of the 2016 General Assembly. Included in the final budget was an overdue payment of $973 million Annual Required Contribution to stabilize the state’s troubled pension system for educators.
State Budget – Long-term Services and Supports
AARP Kentucky continues monitoring the scheduled budget cuts of 4.5% in 2016 and 9% over the biennium (2017-18) to funding for community senior services in the Department for Aging and Independent Living (DAIL). These cuts have not yet been determined by DAIL, but provide meals, transportation, home-based care and other community-based services so that aging and physically disabled Kentuckians can remain independent in their own home.
In the 2016 General Assembly, AARP Kentucky sought to inform the debate and present bi-partisan policy solutions promoting the best quality of life possible today and for future generations. The work of our volunteers, staff and our grassroots activists will continue during the legislative interim and to serve the 460,000 Kentucky AARP Members. Your feedback and questions are always welcome.
Join Us and Stay Connected Year-Round: AARP Kentucky needs more grassroots volunteers to help in Frankfort and in other community-based AARP volunteer opportunities.
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