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AARP Works on 50+ Issues During State Legislative Session

AARP is the voice of 50+ Oklahomans at the State Capitol.

Every year, as hundreds of bills are filed by legislators, we identify proposals that would either protect or harm older Oklahomans and go to work on those issues.

The success of our advocacy efforts is thanks in large part to the efforts of AARP volunteers statewide.

In March, approximately 75 AARP volunteers met with lawmakers at the Capitol during our annual State Legislative Breakfast. It was a time to connect and reconnect with legislators on important issues including long-term care, home and community-based services, retirement security and affordable utilities.

Throughout the legislative session, volunteers have played a crucial role in not only meeting with lawmakers in person, but also communicating with them via e-mail and telephone.

One of AARP Oklahoma’s priority bills – House Bill 2270 – was recently signed into law by Governor Mary Fallin. This bill authorizes an increase in the Nursing Home Quality of Care Fee, which will generate approximately $19.4 million in state funds that could be leveraged to bring in an additional $34.2 million in federal funds.

Another bill that is likely to become law is HB 2566. AARP volunteers sent hundreds of e-mails to lawmakers in support of this proposal that would allow residents of assisted living facilities to freely choose their attending physicians and providers of medical supplies such as local pharmacies, without being assessed a financial penalty by the assisted living center.

Currently, some Oklahoma assisted living facilities charge residents significant penalties for continuing to use the pharmacies of their choice.

HB 2582 would require nationwide background checks that include fingerprints, for future employees of nursing homes, assisted living and residential care facilities and home health.

This is an important proposal because currently home care is not required to check the Sex Offender and Violent Offender Registries.

Special interests have worked hard at every turn to defeat HB 2582. AARP volunteers have worked diligently through in-person meetings, telephone calls and e-mails to keep this proposal alive. After a day spent meeting with lawmakers and distributing fliers with their fingerprints, a group of AARP volunteers was in the House gallery when the bill was revived and passed by the House.

Volunteers also played key roles in making sure the bill was heard by a Senate committee and ultimately heard by the full senate sending hundreds of e-mail to state Senators. The fate of this bill now rests with a conference committee and volunteers will again play a key role in advocating on its behalf.

AARP is always looking for more people to join our advocacy efforts. It’s important work that’s also fun. If you are interested in becoming an AARP advocacy volunteer, e-mail us at ok@aarp.org or call 1-866-295-7277.

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