AARP AARP States West Virginia

AARP Capitol Advocacy Team has Successful Legislative Session

AARP West Virginia achieved notable state advocacy wins during the 2022 West Virginia state legislative session that support home and community-based services, access to high speed internet service and protection for older West Virginians against fraud and financial exploitation.

This year’s budget bill- Senate Bill 250, maintains support for critical services that promote greater responsiveness, opportunity, and commitment to the needs of older West Virginians. On the final day, Governor Jim Justice submitted revisions to the FY 2023 Budget Bill restoring a state matching portion to the Title XIX Waiver program, increasing the Senior Services fund by $750,000.

AARP believes that it is important to direct resources to areas that achieve the most impact for family caregivers and older West Virginians. Providing services that help keep older West Virginians in their homes - where they want to be - also makes more financial sense than costly institutional care.

This year’s budget bill also fully funds state pension plans and the teacher unfunded liability.

With 14 minutes to spare during a grinding last day of this year’s session, the Legislature finished work on House Bill 4001, which establishes means for the state to map out certain infrastructure resources, set parameters on broadband providers’ use of federal money, and provides consumer protections for West Virginia broadband customers.

The bill will provide consumer protections, chief among those protections: broadband companies will be required to give customers at least a partial credit or refund for their monthly bills if their internet is out for more than 24 hours and it isn’t caused by a power outage or anything the customer did. The almost-law also will require broadband companies to provide 30 days’ notice if they plan to change rates or levy new charges against customers, including the expiration of a promotion or special pricing customer has with the company. It also will prohibit broadband companies from passing along the cost of taxes to customers, and broadband companies won’t be able to charge customers a fee for opting to have a paper bill instead of a digital bill. If it becomes law, the bill also would make it so the companies cannot require customers to rent modems from them for service. It would allow for broadband customers to have the option to purchase modems from the company if they so choose.

AARP West Virginia has successfully worked with the Auditor’s Office in the past to pass important legislation that combats financial exploitation of vulnerable adults. Two years ago, the Auditor’s Office endorsed a bill which created the Protection of Vulnerable Adults from Financial Exploitation Act, defining "financial exploitation" and "eligible adult," and detailing the obligations and duties of broker-dealers or investment advisors to notify certain agencies of potential financial exploitation of vulnerable adults. This year the legislature passed House Bill 4297, the bill will allow the coordination of efforts and sharing of information between the Department of Health and Human Resources and the State Auditor’s Office for the purpose of conducting investigations of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult - all records concerning reports of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult would be made available to the State Auditor’s Office in order to carry out those investigations.

On March 1, 2022, Governor Jim Justice announced that West Virginia’s General Revenue collections for February 2022 came in at $385.2 million – $59.2 million above estimate and 19.7% ahead of prior year receipts. Eight months through Fiscal Year 2022, year-to-date collections of $3.478 billion are $589.9 million above the YTD estimate; breaking the all-time record for total surplus through the month of February.

Despite this huge surplus the West Virginia Senate failed to consider Senate Bill 432 to provide a one-time bonus of $1,500 for annuitants under the West Virginia Public Employees Retirement System and the State Teachers Retirement System.

On March 8, 2022 members of the West Virginia House of Delegates proposed an amendment to the House budget bill (House Bill 4023) to give a $1,000 one-time payment to all annuitants under the West Virginia Public Employees Retirement System and the State Teachers Retirement System. This amendment failed 24 to 66 with 10 members absent not voting. 

To see how your Delegate voted click HERE

As the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, West Virginia lawmakers entertained potential laws that could have modernized the state’s health care market and help lower the cost of prescription drugs, specifically insulin. On the final day of the 2022 regular legislative session, several health-related bills were still moving and could become law before the chambers adjourn at midnight.

House Bill 4111: Relating to the prescriptive authority of advanced practice registered nurses would have broadened prescriptive powers of advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants. With six members absent, the legislation passed the House unanimously on Feb. 7. On Saturday afternoon, it passed the Senate 34-0. With four members not voting, the House unanimously concurred with those changes, but further amended the bill. The Senate did not revisit the amended bill, rendering it dead.

House Bill 4252: To reduce copay cap on insulin and devices, didn't pass this session, if passed, the legislation would cap copayments for insulin to $35 for a 30-day supply, down from the current $100 cap, and codify insurance coverage for insulin devices for the first time. The bill, passed the House 94-3 with three members not voting on Jan. 26. On Saturday, the Senate adopted an amendment to include PEIA coverage in the bill. It passed the Senate 31-3, but the House did not concur with the Senate's changes, killing the bill.

It is estimated that 240,000 West Virginians have either type 1 or type 2 diabetes with an estimated 65,000 with undiagnosed diabetes. Medical costs attributed to diabetes are more than $2.5 billion annually in West Virginia.

Our success at the State Capitol this session would not have been possible without the daily efforts of our dedicated volunteers, who provide an important first-person perspective and critical voice in sharing the concerns of older West Virginians and their families with our legislators.

AARP West Virginia’s Capitol Advocacy Team, a dedicated group of nearly 30 advocacy volunteers from communities across the state, did an outstanding job in maintaining a strong virtual presence with lawmakers and leaders during the 60-day regular session of the West Virginia Legislation that concluded on Saturday, March 12.

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