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Legislature Addressing Health, Long-term Care Issues

North Dakota legislators are working on interim studies and part of what they are considering includes expanding consumer health care choices. The use of vouchers could allow people using state programs to choose from a larger pool of health care providers. It is just one issue being discussed in the Health and Human Services Committee.

This committee is also charged with studying unmet health care needs in North Dakota, including gathering information on the uninsured and underinsured. AARP North Dakota has been named in the study as one of the entities to provide information on the availability and affordability of health services in the state, and reporting on efforts to increase access to health care in rural North Dakota.

There are multiple state and federal programs that are in place to meet the needs of the uninsured, mostly for the very poor, children, and people with disabilities. Federal health care reform legislation currently under consideration in Congress will have an impact on some of those programs, and others will need to be revamped to meet new regulations.

The Health and Human Services Committee is also charged with monitoring the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which is a priority issue for AARP. The Dakota Medical Foundation has been granted $650,000 to engage in a variety of outreach to increase statewide awareness of the program and reach families who may qualify.

The Long Term Care interim committee will review basic care and assisted living facilities, including studying state laws and administrative rules to determine if there is adequate regulation of these facilities.

The committee will also be gathering information about the availability of long-term care, including home- and community-based services. This will include looking at waiting lists for services and whether the geographic distribution of services is adequate.

Another interesting piece of the Long Term Care Committee interim work is receiving reports on the Dementia Care Services Program passed by the last legislature. AARP North Dakota is optimistic that this program will significantly assist North Dakota families who struggle with this disease. The program will help identify available services in each region of the state, assess the needs of people who have dementia and their caregivers, and provide training and consultation for caregivers and people in the community who come in regular contact with the public. The outcomes of this program will be reported to the committee and could be of significant use in enhancing the long-term care system in our state.

Minutes from these two committees, and all other legislative interim committees are posted on the Legislative Council web site.

If you would like to receive updates regarding issues regularly followed by AARP advocacy, you can sign up for our alerts at

If you do not have Internet access, you can make a request to be put on a mailing list to receive hard copies of meeting notices and minutes by calling the Legislative Council at 701-328-2916. When you call, you will be asked to specify the committees in which you have an interest.

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