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2012 General Assembly Wrap-up: 'End the Wait, Fill the Plate'

Even with a new record setting $8.8 million dollars spending bonanza by business interests and advocacy groups lobbying Kentucky’s General Assembly, AARP Kentucky succeeded in protecting consumers and funding community based services.

See Also: Home and Community-Based Services and Supports for Older People
 
AARP Kentucky’s top legislative priority was to mobilize grassroots supporters for increased funding in the Department for Aging and Independent Living (DAIL). AARP with Area Agencies on Aging and grassroots activists called on state lawmakers to increase state funding for services helping vulnerable seniors live independently.

AARP had sought $50 million dollars with its statewide campaign, “End the Wait, Fill the Plate”, but successfully netted $10 million state dollars dedicated to begin reducing long waiting lists for services. AARP will continue fighting for funding to meet the growing needs of 19,000 vulnerable Kentuckians on DAIL’s waiting lists including 8,200 seniors waiting for meals.

AARP joined other consumer advocates opposing House Bill 361 and won an important victory for nursing home residents and their families. AARP opposed the bill because it sought to limit medical liability awards by requiring any nursing home case of abuse or neglect to first go before a panel of appointed lawyers, doctors and other health care professionals. The proposed “Medical Review Panel” would have had authority to determine if the evidence supports the conclusion that a long-term care facility acted or failed to act within the appropriate standards of care brought in a complaint. Additionally, the panel’s members would have been appointed from the nursing home industry and may have had conflicts of interest.

AARP believed it would have increased costs and made it harder for nursing home residents and their families to go to court with a legitimate claim of abuse or neglect. AARP and other supporters believed it was unfair (and likely unconstitutional) to place extra costs and barriers in law for nursing home residents before having their day in court.

Consumers depending on basic land-line telephone service won a reprieve from deregulation efforts. AARP opposed Senate Bill 135 because, if enacted, it would have likely resulted in the loss of affordable basic phone service for Kentuckians living on low and fixed incomes. The bill sought to allow phone companies to raise rates for a vital service for which there is little competition and eliminate valuable consumer protections especially in rural counties.

For many AARP Kentucky members, telephone communication is a basic necessity, allowing older people to maintain social contact, preserve health and safety, and call for assistance in an emergency. In fact, people age 65 and older are more likely than any other age group to have telephone service in their home.

Kentucky’s next General Assembly convenes January 2013 and these key issues are expected to be revisited. AARP remains committed to build grassroots support for protecting consumers and building community services helping people live independently – in their own homes. AARP volunteer citizen advocates make change possible and AARP Kentucky needs you.

Send email to kyaarp@aarp.org to learn more about becoming a citizen advocate.

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