— With thousands of Texans getting hit by surprise medical bills, eight organizations representing consumers, businesses, and health insurers have joined forces in support of legislative action to protect patients from unexpected and excessive health care costs. The leading organizations, including AARP Texas, have come together to advance five key principles to ensure that patients get the care they need at costs they can afford. “Too often, Texans are getting slammed with surprise, out-of-network bills due to no fault of their …

— They’re back! Texas lawmakers have returned to Austin for the start of a 140-day legislative session in which they’ll craft a new two-year state spending plan, deliberate over hundreds of bills, and work through a long list of issues on behalf of the state’s 28 million residents. On this opening day of ceremonies at the Capitol, the House elects a new speaker, Angleton Republican Rep. Dennis Bonnen, and the Senate gavels in under the leadership of Dan Patrick, the state’s …

— The number of freestanding emergency rooms in Texas has grown from zero to more than 200 in less than a decade. In fact, Texas is home to more than half of all the freestanding ERs in the country. An AARP Texas investigation has found that many of these facilities are using misleading language about whether they’re in-network for insurance, putting Texans in peril of receiving burdensome surprise medical bills. A state law passed in 2009 cleared the way for the creation …

— Por Tom Korosec Texas ha logrado avanzar en la reducción del uso de antipsicóticos en los hogares de ancianos. Esto fue gracias a la atención por parte de reguladores federales y estatales y de grupos de defensa del consumidor como AARP, además de debido a iniciativas de la industria. AARP Texas seguirá dándole prioridad a este tema cuando la legislatura estatal comience su sesión el 8 de enero. “Los médicos a veces recetan antipsicóticos para intentar sedar químicamente a una …

— By Tom Korosec Texas has made progress on reducing the use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes as a result of attention from federal and state regulators and consumer groups like AARP, as well as industry efforts. AARP Texas will continue to advance the issue as a priority when the state Legislature begins its session Jan. 8. “Sometimes physicians will prescribe antipsychotic drugs in an attempt to chemically sedate an individual in lieu of appropriate staff attention. This is a …

— A bill just pre-filed by Senator Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) and backed by several Republican co-sponsors would give Texas courts the additional resources they need to effectively oversee guardianships and protect many vulnerable Texans. Guardianship reforms are a key issue for AARP during the upcoming Texas legislative session. SB 31 would establish the Office of Guardianship Abuse, Fraud and Exploitation Deterrence, designed to provide additional resources and assistance to courts with jurisdiction over guardianship proceedings. The bill’s low number is an …

— An AARP poll released October 1 shows more than two-thirds of voters age 50 and older in Texas’ Seventh Congressional District believe Congress should strengthen Medicare and Social Security, address rising prescription drug costs, and strengthen and support family caregivers. “With Election Day less than 50 days away, candidates in the Seventh Congressional District would be wise to listen to the state’s most powerful voting group: those age 50 and older,” said Bob Jackson, AARP Texas director. “History shows older …

— By Laura Tillman Rosamond Bradley was 73 and living on her own in 2009. She had been a teacher, church volunteer and avid traveler. But she had begun to behave erratically. After one incident—smashing windows in her home, claiming a burglar was trying to get in—Bradley was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Eventually, a Lubbock County judge, citing Bradley’s mental illness and dementia, found that she was incapable of taking care of herself and named a son as her guardian. …

— AARP Texas today lauded a proposal by Texas Sunset Advisory Commission Vice Chair Representative Chris Paddie — and approved by the commission — to ensure the safety of vulnerable Texans during natural disasters by taking steps to immediately fix some of the issues that plagued the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR) during Hurricane Harvey a year ago. STEAR was intended to help local emergency management to identify and locate persons needing assistance during a natural disaster. Currently, 57,000 …

— As Hurricane Harvey ravaged Southeast Texas last August, one Texas assisted living facility (ALF) became infamous when a photo of elderly residents sitting in waist-deep water went viral. This image and other stories led AARP to examine complaints made to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) about the safety of residents in Texas’ assisted living facilities during and after the hurricane. Records show that a number of assisted living facility residents faced harm, neglect or abandonment during Harvey …