Now that all the election rhetoric is over, AARP Wisconsin believes state lawmakers understand that their constituents expect them to sit down together and work in a bipartisan manner to pass legislation that benefits all Wisconsinites.
With this hope for a renewed spirit of cooperation, AARP Wisconsin fully intends to pull a chair up to the table and have a say – specifically on issues that impact those age 50-plus.
“The new state legislature is 100 percent controlled by Republicans who have shown reservations about the Affordable Care Act and expansion or continuation of programs such as SeniorCare and Family Care. However, more and more people are engaging in issues and letting their elected officials know how they feel,” said Helen Marks Dicks, State Advocacy Director for AARP Wisconsin.
“This will give pause to local officials. Voters want lawmakers to work together and legislators do listen to their constituents,” Dicks said.
One of the first issues legislators will be dealing with is how the new health insurance exchanges will roll out. “We look forward to working with the governor to get a state-based exchange that’s good for Wisconsin.” Dicks said the exchanges need to be easy to use and understand, be fully transparent and free of conflicts of interest.
“Our members have a lot of influence with local officials and they are willing to volunteer their time. I think we’re going to see much more significant involvement in the process as we look for solutions to problems that impact everyone,” she said.
As work on the 2013-15 budget begins, AARP will be mobilizing volunteers to contact their state officials as needed to support or oppose proposed legislation and budget items.
“We’ll be at the table fighting for issues that matter to our members,” said Dicks, who is setting up a new team of “tele-activists” who will be trained on issues and ready to make phone calls when issues of interest to seniors pop up. To become an AARP WI tele-activist, call toll-free 877-926-8300 or visit http://aarp.cvent.com/WIteleactivists.
Some of those issues include:
Family Care: AARP wants to expand program from the current 57 counties into 7 more that are prepared to make the move when funding is made available. “Our goal is for all 72 counties to have the option of moving into Family Care if they want to.”
SeniorCare: If the SeniorCare waiver is extended for 3 more years, AARP will work with the governor and lawmakers to assure that adequate funding for the prescription drug program for those 65 and over is included in the budget.
Financial security: The current state budget surplus came at the expense of people who were pushed out of programs such as BadgerCare. “As we look at the forecast to for the next two years we hope we can re-weave some of the safety net that we lost the last two years. We can’t afford to lose some of the vital services our members rely on.”