Oklahoma’s legislative session begins February 5, 2018. AARP Oklahoma is working hard for its members with an aggressive legislative agenda, but we need your help to be successful. Our legislative priorities are listed below. We can only be successful with your help. Get involved today and let your voice be heard! To get involved, call or email Chad Mullen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-715-4470
Defending Against Budget Cuts that Affect Oklahoma’s Most Vulnerable
2018 is likely to be another difficult budget year. The FY18 budget has not been finalized as a second special session is still in progress. Until the FY18 budget is completed, it is unknown how much of a deficit, if any, lawmakers will face in crafting the FY19 budget. Based on one-time funding used in the prior session and preliminary revenue estimates, the budget deficit could be as high as $500 million. If a revenue-raising package is reached during special session, the deficit could be reduced or even eliminated. This uncertainty, combined with several investigations into the health cabinet, will lead to budgeting dynamics that will make positive reform difficult at best.
Despite this difficult legislative environment, AARP will be prepared to advocate against any budget cuts that will negatively impact Oklahoma’s most vulnerable. Chief amongst our concerns are funding for the ADvantage Waiver program, adult day care, and respite care programs.
Consistent Implementation of the Care Act throughout the State (SB1516 Sen. Griffin)
Since the passage of the Care Act, Oklahomans have benefited from structured involvement of a caregiver throughout a hospitalization process. A recent study conducted by AARP found that only 61% of caregivers whose loved ones were hospitalized were asked to designate a Caregiver, a crucial first step in the process. Of those who were asked, 18% were not provided with instructions of live demonstrations of medical tasks that needed to be performed.
In order to ensure the Caregiving Act is institutionalized across the state, SB1516 requires the State Health Department to add the provision of the act to the hospital re-licensure survey.
Prevention of Elder Abuse through Modernized Guardianship Laws (HB3328 Rep. McEntire)
Across the country and in Oklahoma, many seniors are being taken advantage of financially and otherwise through outdated guardianship laws. Oklahoma has not had a major update of its guardianship laws since 1988.
AARP Oklahoma is supporting legislation that will create the “Commission on the Prevention of Abuse of Elderly and Vulnerable Adults”. The commission would be tasked with determining the current state of adult guardianship and proposing legislation to address all weaknesses in the current system.
Access to Caregiving through Voluntary Leave Banks (SB1581 Sen. Floyd and HB3332 Rep. McEntire)
AARP Oklahoma is committed to ensuring caregivers are equipped with the resources they need to provide care to their family members and loved ones. SB1581 and HB3332 propose to create a leave bank pilot program within the state. State employees will be able to “buy in to” an enhanced caregiver leave plan by donating 40 hours of leave.
Though this bill only pertains to state employees, the bill’s author plans to introduce legislation, the subsequent year, requiring midsize to larger firms to adopt similar programs.
Related HB3213 Rep. Griffith (expanded short term disability for Caregiving)
Access to Care through Full Practice Authority for APRN’s (HB 1013 Rep. Cockroft and Sen. Griffin )
Twenty states allow nurse practitioners to practice at the full scope of their capabilities. AARP Oklahoma believes that allowing APRN’s in Oklahoma to have full practice authority will increase access to affordable care, especially in rural areas where physician shortages are reaching crisis levels.
This common sense solution can spur economic development in rural areas, increase access to care and lower costs. This can lead to shorter commutes for better care, allowing our members to remain in their communities longer.
Related HB3091 Rep. Cockroft (same bill as HB1013)
Safety through Requirements to Provide Backup Power in Assisted Living Centers (HB2537 Rep. West)
Beginning November 15, 2017, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began requiring all nursing homes, receiving federal dollars, to provide alternative power sources capable of operating heating and cooling systems, operating medically necessary equipment and providing adequate storage for food and medicine for at least 96 hours.
AARP Oklahoma believes that these same guidelines should be applied to assisted living centers. Given the acuity of care being provided in assisted living centers, it is time that preparation against natural disasters be included in licensing requirements.
Related SB1268 Sen. Dugger (backup power generation in residential facilities)
Affordable Healthcare through Prescription Drug Cost Containment (SB1381 Sen. Standridge)
The cost of prescription drugs has continued to skyrocket, far outpacing inflation, with no end in sight. Older Americans take 4.5 prescriptions per month, on average, for chronic conditions, placing the brunt of these increases on our members. One solution is to take advantage of lower prices in Canada through a FDA approved process known as re-importation.
AARP Oklahoma is proposing legislation that will create a pilot program to begin re-importing five highly prescribed drugs that have a high cost differential between U.S. and Canadian prices.
Affordable Living through Lower Utility Rates (HB3427 Rep. Pfeiffer)
Much of AARP Oklahoma’s utility advocacy is centered on individual rate cases. The ability to impact a rate case is predicated on the Corporation Commission issuing a ruling in a timely manner. Under current state law, a utility is allowed to increase rates if the Corporation Commission has not made a ruling in 180 days through a mechanism known as interim rates.
On average, the Corporation Commission takes 281 days to issue a ruling, providing utilities an opportunity to increase rates without oversight. AARP Oklahoma supports increasing the threshold to allow the implementation of interim rates from 180 days to 300 days to protect consumers from unnecessary temporary expenses and cumbersome refund processes.