Texting while driving, better health-care coverage, and nuclear-power-plant advance fees are all on legislators' agenda this year.
Florida’s Legislature kicked off its legislative session March 2, and on the agenda are a range of issues affecting older Floridians – from improving health care access for struggling older Floridians to banning the dangerous practice of texting while driving.
Topping the list of AARP Florida’s legislative priorities is to persuade Florida legislators to expand Medicaid to provide health care coverage to 900,000 Floridians currently without health coverage, including up to 260,000 Floridians age 50-64. Under the 2010 national Affordabe Care Act, the federal government will pay 100 percent of the additional cost of the coverage for the first three years.
In late February, Florida Gov. Rick Scott endorsed the expansion of Medicaid through 2016. But the final decision will rest with Florida legislators. As this was written, lawmakers hadn’t yet made a final decision on Medicaid expansion.
“Florida’s job market is still tough. Many thousands of Floridians 50+ have lost jobs or are working in jobs that don’t provide health coverage,” said Jeff Johnson, AARP Florida state director.
“By expanding Medicaid under the national health law, lawmakers would be providing peace of mind and access to health care for Floridians who are struggling,” Johnson said. “It would not only be good for Floridians, but also for Florida’s economy. By reducing the need for expensive emergency-room care, we’d all save. And the extra dollars would help give our state’s economy a boost.”
AARP Florida also is calling for lawmakers to ban the dangerous practice of texting while driving, an issue that Florida voters 50+ feel very strongly about. In fact, in a AARP Florida poll announced in February, nearly nine out of 10 strongly supported a state ban on texting while driving. Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands have already banned texting while driving.
AARP Florida also will advocate in 2013 to ensure that older Floridians receive quality long-term care in their homes or communities and in nursing homes and assisted living facilities
Florida has seen only modest growth in support for state-funded home- and community-based long-term care in recent years, while waiting lists have grown.
In the AARP survey announced in February, half of voters 50+ say they or a family member is likely to need long-term care in the next five years. Among different types of care, survey respondents rated home health aide or nursing visits or transportation services as most helpful to them.
In AARP’s latest survey, six in 10 Florida voters 50+ favor requiring Internet-based retailers to collect and send in the state’s 6-percent sales tax, as Florida-based retailers already do. Surveyors said support for Internet sales-tax fairness was consistent across party lines. Also, AARP Florida is backing efforts by key state legislators to repeal a state law that allows utility companies to charge consumers in advance for nuclear power plants – even if the plants in question may never really be built.
Six in 10 Florida voters 50+ oppose current state laws allowing utility companies to charge consumers for as yet unbuilt nuclear-power plants, Some 44 percent of those polled strongly opposed the fees, while only 5 percent strongly supported them. Again, opposition to advance nuclear cost-recovery fees cuts across party lines, with 43 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of independents and 46 percent of Democrats strongly opposing such fees.
See more information about the latest AARP Florida survey on legislative issues.