This week, Governor Jay Inslee signed into law several bills that are important for people 50+. These include legislation to improve long term care quality and financing, ensure pedestrian safety, expand access to prescription drugs and protect vulnerable adults. Special thanks to the legislators who sponsored these bills and to the AARP members who testified before committees, met with legislators, made phone calls and wrote e-mails in support of these bills. All of the hard work paid off. Here’s what passed:
Long Term Care Insurance Consumer Protections, SB 5216
When dealing with the crisis of a loved one who needs long term care, no one want to have to fight with an insurance company to pay the bill. This bill requires insurance companies to respond to long-term care insurance claims within 30 days and directs the insurance commissioner to adopt prompt payment requirements, including a definition of clean claims. (Senator Christine Rolfes D-Bainbridge Island)
Adult Family Home Resident Protections, SB 5630
Choosing the right Adult Family Home to meet your loved ones’ needs can be a huge challenge. This bill requires a standardized disclosure form and an improved web site at DSHS so that consumers can more easily shop for and compare homes. In addition, it calls for more effective and efficient quality oversight and improved specialty training in areas such as dementia, bariatric and skilled nursing care. (Senator Barbara Bailey R-Oak Harbor)
Neighborhood Safe Speeds, HB 1045
Safe, walkable streets are important both for people of all ages, and especially important for the many older adults who can no longer drive. This bill gives cities and towns the authority to set speed limits to 20 miles per hour on non-arterial streets. It does not mandate any change, it simply allows for greater local control. (Representative Cindy Ryu D-Shoreline)
Medication Access for the Uninsured, SSB 5148
Access to affordable prescription drugs is a challenge for many people as they age. This bill allows for the safe redistribution of drugs from patients who no longer need them to low-income people and people who are uninsured. It allows practitioners, pharmacists, medical facilities, drug manufacturers, and drug wholesalers to donate prescription drugs and supplies to pharmacies for redistribution. (Senator Karen Keiser D-Des Moines)
Protections for Vulnerable Adults, SB 5510
Some very vulnerable older people in our state suffer because their needs are neglected by those who are supposed to be caring for them. This bill broadens the statutory definition of neglect and requires more information sharing between state agencies so that these and other situations involving abuse and exploitation can be more effectively addressed. (Senator Randi Becker R-Eatonville)
Special Session – Key Issues Hanging in Suspension
As you have read in the papers, the game is not over in Olympia. Legislators concluded their regular session without agreeing to a budget. They re-convened for a 30 day Special Session on May 13th. Several issues important to AARP are hanging in suspension while negotiators struggle to come to agreement. Top of the list:
Medicaid Expansion: Both sides agree we should expand health insurance and save state dollars, but this isn’t a done deal until the budget is passed. 40,000 Washingtonians age 50-64 stand to benefit.
Aging and Disability Committee: Top budget negotiators from both sides have agreed to include a provision in any final budget to create this 2-year joint legislative-executive committee– but we need to remain vigilant to make sure it doesn’t slip through the cracks.
Adult Dental: There seems to be agreement to restore Medicaid funded dental benefits to 100,000 low-income adults, but so far the Senate is only committed to partial restoration.
Harmful cuts: If the legislature cannot agree to raise new revenue to address the deficit and fund a new investment in education, we face the risk of a number of deep and painful cuts to services for low-income people and elders, including elimination of the Kinship Caregiver Program and reductions in home care hours.
Click here for a complete list of AARP Budget Priorities.
Please take a moment to call the legislative hotline today 1-800-562-6000 to ask your legislators to pass a budget that includes new revenue and is good for all generations.