AARP Arkansas secured a number of key victories on behalf of Arkansans 50 + during the 2011 regular session of the Arkansas Legislature, including funding for senior centers/meals, creation of a state Office of Health Information Technology and a gubernatorial directive to address the state’s health care workforce shortage.
Key victories on behalf of Arkansans 50+ include:
- Act 246 of 2011, which provides $742,000 in funding for senior centers and senior meals. Securing state funding for senior meals was one of AARP Arkansas’ 2011 Legislative Priorities. AARP Arkansas urged legislators to support the funding by using an innovative paper plate campaign with “Support funding for senior meals” and “350,000 empty plates” printed around the edges. Six hundred individually addressed plates were mailed to legislators from constituents across the state.
- Act 891, which creates the state Office of Health Information Technology, another of AARP Arkansas’ 2011 Legislative Priorities. Arkansas will improve the safety, effectiveness, and efficiency of health care by implementation of Health Information Technology (HIT) including an electronic health record.
- Governor Mike Beebe directed the Chancellor of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and the Director of the Arkansas Health Department to develop a plan to address the issue of health care workforce needs in Arkansas. Designating a lead entity, through legislative or executive action, to develop specific steps to address the health care workforce shortage in Arkansas was also among AARP Arkansas’ 2011 Legislative Priorities.
- Act 159 adopts the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act. This law addresses the issue of jurisdiction over adult guardianships, conservatorships & other protective proceedings, providing a mechanism for resolving multi-state jurisdictional disputes. The goal is that only one state will have jurisdiction at any one time.
- Act 805 adopts the Uniform Power of Attorney Act. This act provides a simple way for people to deal with their property by providing a power of attorney in case of future incapacity. While chiefly a set of default rules, the act also contains safeguards for the protection of an incapacitated person.
- Act 752 gives cities and counties more flexibility to support transportation programs for older Arkansans.
AARP Arkansas also successfully opposed passage of legislation with potentially negative consequences for Arkansans 50 +, including bills that would have reduced critical funding for Medicaid, allowed out-of-state lenders to charge more than the 17 percent annual interest rate authorized by the Arkansas Constitution, and added $5.10 to the cost of prescriptions delivered by mail.
“AARP Arkansas had a very successful 2011 legislative session, and once again it was our volunteers that really made the difference on issues of major public importance,” said Maria Reynolds-Diaz, Senior State Director. “Thanks to the efforts of all our volunteers who e-mailed, called and showed up at the Capitol, many good bills became law, and several bad bills were stopped in their tracks. Between now and the next legislative session, AARP Arkansas will continue to vigilantly advocate on behalf of Arkansans 50+.”