AARP Texas is committed to improving the quality of life for older Texans and everyone in the Lone Star State. We work to strengthen communities and advocate for what matters most to families with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment.
Below are some of the positive outcomes of the 2019 Texas legislative session that AARP Texas fought for and achieved:
Prescription Drug Price Transparency
Americans pay the highest prescription drug prices in the world. Still, not much is known by policymakers and the public about the reason for drug price hikes.
Under a new law, drug manufacturers must share detailed information when the price of certain drugs go up, and the information will be posted to a state website. Greater disclosure around pricing may help drive down costs.
Surprise Medical Bill Protections
Patients sometimes leave an emergency room or medical office with unexpected charges because the facility or some of the doctors who treated them do not have contracts with the patient’s health insurer.
Under a new law, health providers will be prohibited from sending patients a surprise bill for out-of-network emergency services, lab work and imaging. Providers and insurers will negotiate payment amounts through an arbitration process. Also now, surprise medical bills won’t be put on patients’ credit records.
Freestanding Emergency Room Safeguards
Hundreds of freestanding emergency rooms exist in Texas, typically in major urban areas. They often resemble urgent care clinics but some regularly charge high emergency-room prices, with patients leaving confused about whether their insurance will cover the charges.
New laws require freestanding ERs to clearly disclose the in-network health plans they accept, ban price gouging, and prohibit misleading advertising.
Nursing Home Resident Safety
Texas nursing homes too often give dangerous antipsychotic drugs to vulnerable seniors who don’t need them—and often without their families even knowing. Though these drugs can be lethal, many nursing homes use them as chemical “restraints,” often just to make their staffs’ jobs easier.
AARP Texas successfully fought for a new law that requires nursing homes to obtain written consent from the resident or family prior to giving an antipsychotic drug. Risks, benefits and alternative treatment options must be disclosed.
Rural Broadband Access
Broadband, or high-speed Internet, delivers new technologies that are improving the quality of life for people of all ages, and can help older Texans live independently in their homes and communities. It also combats social isolation and improves well-being by supporting services like distance learning and telehealth. But access to broadband is sometimes sparse in rural Texas.
AARP Texas worked for new laws to improve broadband access in underserved areas, including the creation of a Broadband Council under the governor’s authority, and a policy that will ease adding infrastructure to expand broadband.
Guardianship Abuse Deterrence
Sometimes, due to the effects of aging, disease or injury, people need help managing some or all of their daily affairs. A guardian is someone who is legally authorized, and under watch by the courts, to perform certain tasks to care and protect someone else.
To provide a safety net for those under the care of guardians, Texas needs to improve oversight to spot potential abuse, fraud or exploitation. With new funding and authority, courts will now have more monitoring tools to ensure that guardians live up to their important duty.
Primary Care from Nurse Practitioners
A shortage exists of primary healthcare providers in Texas. To fill the gap, advanced practice registered nurses are educated and trained to give quality care. While many states have expanded the role of these nurses, Texas has lagged behind.
AARP Texas continues to work to cut the red tape that blocks APRNs from practicing to their full authority of their licensing and training. A new law backed by AARP will lift certain unnecessary meeting requirements between supervising doctors and nurses.
Older Worker Training
Age discrimination threatens the financial security of older workers by pushing qualified people out of the workforce. A discriminatory policy existed in the state’s Labor Code that allowed employers to deny trainings for certain older employees. Under a new law fought for by AARP Texas, the provision is removed and workers age 56+ gain access to training in the workplace.
Adult Protective Services Pay Parity
Crimes against older Texans often go unreported. A strong protection system can help prevent abuse and financial exploitation.
With support from AARP Texas, funds are in place to give raises to Adult Protective Services frontline staff, which will help to address workload, turnover, and pay disparity concerns.
Respite for Family Caregivers
The Lifespan Respite Care Program, which helps family caregivers get a break from their responsibilities, will receive $1 million in state funding in the two-year budget. In the future, the Legislature should consider an even greater investment in this critical program.