— by Ken Helander, AARP Alaska Director of Advocacy khelander@aarp.org   Federal Advocacy AARP is urging Congress to stand up to drug companies who are trying to reopen the Medicare Part D provisions in the bipartisan budget deal recently passed by Congress. The bill shifts additional costs for coverage onto the drug companies. Drug companies are heavily lobbying Congress to reverse this increase and lower their share of the costs. Tell Congress to stand up to big drug companies and lower …

— State Legislation Smoke Free Workplaces (SB 63). AARP Alaska supports the right of Alaskans to breathe smoke-free air at work and in public spaces. SB 63 is waiting for a hearing in the House Rules committee. No action necessary at this time. Senior Benefits (HB 236). AARP Alaska supports reauthorization through 2024 of the Senior Benefits program that provides monthly cash assistance to low-income Alaskans over age 65. HB 236 awaits a hearing in the Senate Finance committee. No action …

— by Ken Helander, AARP Alaska Advocacy Director Federal Advocacy On the Federal front, Congress passed its very large budget deal that included a number of items that are important to AARP and health care.  The bill permanently repealed the Medicare therapy caps which will be a big relief to millions of older people who require extensive physical or occupational therapies.  The bill also funds the Community Health Centers for two more years (Alaska depends on these centers for much of …

— by Ken Helander, AARP Alaska Federal Advocacy AARP has been working hard through the constant stream of Congressional issues that would affect our members.  Of current concern are potential cuts to Medicare services, including placing caps on therapy services (physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy) which could be quickly exceeded by a person with chronic needs or extensive post-surgery rehab.  AARP opposes these caps that could significantly increase a Medicare beneficiary’s out of pocket expenses. State Advocacy AARP Alaska supports SB …

— Bipartisan bill would develop a strategy to support family caregivers WASHINGTON, DC—AARP welcomes passage in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives of the bipartisan Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act (H.R. 3759). The legislation, introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and in the U.S. House by Representatives Gregg Harper (R-MS) and Kathy Castor (D-FL), requires the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop …

— AARP opposes tax bill because of negative impact on older adults WASHINGTON, DC — On December 18, 2017, AARP sent a letter to all members of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives raising its concerns with significant shortcomings in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as well as highlighting some important provisions for older Americans. The full text of the letter to the Congressional Leadership is below: Dear Senator/Representative: On behalf of our members and all Americans …

— December 8, 2017 2018 Cuts Would Reduce Access to Health Care   WASHINGTON, DC — On December 7, 2017 AARP sent a letter to Congressional leadership urging Congress to prevent $25 billion in automatic cuts to Medicare in 2018 that would result from the enactment of H.R. 1 and its $1.5 trillion deficit increase since it “would have an immediate and lasting impact, including fewer providers participating in Medicare and reduced access to care for Medicare beneficiaries.” The full text of …

— Thousands of older Alaskans stand to lose crucial assistance from a program that is due to expire in 2018. When the legislature convenes Jan. 16, AARP Alaska will be backing a bill to extend the state’s Senior Benefits Program, which provides cash assistance to more than 11,000 low-income Alaskans 65 and older. Monthly benefits range from $76 to $250 for individuals with annual income up to $26,355 and couples up to $35,508. The benefits help cover expenses such as food, …

— Millions of Older Americans Would See Tax Hikes or No Tax Relief, Millions More May See Their Health Care Premiums Rise November 30, 2017 WASHINGTON, DC—AARP today sent a letter to the U.S. Senate expressing concerns about tens of billions of dollars in potential cuts to Medicare next year alone, as well as potential tax increases or little or no tax relief for older Americans. The full text of the letter to the Senate is below:   Dear Senator: On behalf of …

— November 16, 2017 WASHINGTON, DC—Today AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer Nancy LeaMond released the following statement in response to the U.S. House passage of the tax bill: “AARP is disappointed by the tax bill that the House passed earlier today because it is harmful to millions of Americans age 65-plus. The Congressional Budget Office has stated that the large deficits created by H.R. 1 will result in a $25 billion cut to Medicare (absent additional …