AARP AARP States Advocacy

AARP Alaska Legislative Update, March 16, 2015

Bills We’re Watching

  • HB5 Conservator of Protected Persons: Passed (H); awaiting hearing in (S) JUD.
  • HB8 Powers of Attorney:  Passed (H); referred to Senate HSS committee.
  • SB1 Regulation of Smoking: Passed (S) HSS. Referred to (S) State Affairs committee.
  • SB12 Paid Sick Leave: Awaiting hearing in (S) L&C.
  • NEW SB72 An Act Relating to Caregivers of Patients after Release or Departure from a Hospital. Introduced 3/11: Referred to (S) HSS

 

Issues We’re Watching

  • Budget: cuts to Senior Benefit Program: Finance Committees (S and H)
  • Budget: cuts to Adult Day Programs: Finance Committees (S)
  • Medicaid expansion: SB 74; Introduced 3/13. Referred to (S) HSS

 

Bills in Detail

  • House Bill 5 Conservator of Protected PersonsSponsor(s) REPRESENTATIVES HAWKER, Hughes. The bill would expand the pool of persons eligible to be appointed by the court to serve as a “conservator” of an incapacitated person’s finances to include persons related by marriage or adoption (currently just blood relations are eligible). AARP supports this bill. Current status: After passing the House on 2/25, this bill awaits a hearing in Senate Judiciary.
  • House Bill 8 Powers of AttorneySponsor(s) REPRESENTATIVES HUGHES, Gruenberg. This bill updates Alaska’s current Power of Attorney Law with new protections against exploitation and conforms the law more closely to those of other states allowing for easier portability. Power of Attorney is an important tool to protect assets of a person who becomes incapacitated by providing a means to name someone the person trusts to manage their financial affairs. AARP supports this bill. Current status: The bill passed the House and moves to Senate, awaiting hearing in Senate Judiciary committee.
  • Senate Bill 1 Regulation of SmokingSponsor(s) SENATORS MICCICHE, McGuire, Costello, Bishop, Stevens, Meyer, Olson, Ellis, Gardner, Hoffman. This bill expands statewide what is already common practice in many cities and villages around Alaska by making it illegal to smoke indoors at a place of employment or in public spaces. It does not prohibit smoking, but protects all persons from second hand smoke -- a proven health hazard. AARP supports this bill. Current status: Bill passed out of (S) HSS on 3/11. Moves to (S) State Affairs
  • Senate Bill 12 Paid Sick LeaveSponsor(s) SENATORS WIELECHOWSKI, Ellis. This bill requires businesses with more than 15 employees to provide a modest accrual of paid leave hours for illness of the employee or to assist members of their immediate family. In many cases, workers are forced to choose between their paycheck and their health. Providing paid sick leave actually saves businesses money by decreasing employee turn-over and increasing productivity. AARP supports this bill. Current status: No change from last week. This bill was referred to the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee.
  • NEW SB72 An Act Relating to Caregivers of Patients after Release or Departure from a HospitalSponsor SENATOR GIESSEL. This bill strengthens the role of an unpaid or family caregiver of a hospital patient who will need care after discharge. The bill allows patients to name a caregiver, for the caregiver’s contact information to be recorded in the patient record, and prior to discharge for the hospital to provide live or recorded demonstration of the tasks the caregiver will have to perform after the patient is discharged. Current status: This bill is referred to (S) HSS committee.

 

Issues in Detail

  • Cuts to Senior Benefits Program Governor Bill Walker proposes reducing the cost of the Senior Benefit Program which supplements income of the lowest earning seniors in Alaska. The proposal would reduce by 20% the two top tiers of benefits, affecting approximately 11,000 low-income seniors. While AARP Alaska recognizes the importance of reducing state spending, we don’t support doing so on the backs of those least able to afford it. AARP is vigorously opposing this cut to the Senior Benefit Program. Current status: Cuts remain in House passed budget. Now to be considered by Senate Finance Committee.
  • Family caregiver support and educationHouse Finance committee has proposed a $500,000 cut to the state’s 13 adult day programs, which is almost a third of their state funding. This program not only provides daytime care and support for persons with dementia or other physical disabilities, it also provides respite for families caring for a family member and maintains the opportunity to maintain their full-time employment, keep their health insurance, and build retirement. AARP opposes cuts to this important program. Current status: Adult day program funding restored to House passed budget! Now being considered in (S) Finance.
  • Medicaid ExpansionExpansion of Medicaid would be financed entirely by Federal funds the first year, gradually becoming a 10% state share by 2020. Medicaid would become available as healthcare coverage to all persons who earn 133% of the Federal Poverty Level or less. Expanded Medicaid would provide access to healthcare for an estimated 40,000 Alaskans who currently are without coverage. AARP supports this important change to Medicaid rules, which also has the potential to actually reduce overall state costs through reform and reorganization. Current status: House removed all Medicaid expansion items from its passed budget. On 3/13, Sen. Kelly introduced a bill (SB74) in the Senate that only calls for Medicaid reform. SB74 referred to (S) HSS.

 

Whether its Social Security or Medicare at the national level, or healthcare and housing at the state level, we are working on behalf of our 86,000 members in Alaska. This advocacy update will help keep you informed. Please share with your family and friends!

We invite you to give us your feedback. We also welcome volunteers who want to get involved as advocates to help make a difference for Alaska’s 50+ population. Contact Ken Helander, Advocacy Director, AARP Alaska State Office at 907-762-3314; toll free at 866-227-7447 or khelander@aarp.org .

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