AARP Oklahoma volunteers and staff recently celebrated three long-term care and home and community-based services wins following a gubernatorial bill signing ceremony at the State Capitol.
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Volunteers from across the state joined Governor Mary Fallin, R, and state legislators at a bill signing ceremony for House Bill 2582 and HB 2566 – both AARP legislative priority bills during the 2012 session.
House Bill 2582 authorizes the implementation of a fingerprint-based, nationwide background check for future employees of various long-term care providers. Under current law, Oklahoma long-term care providers are only required to conduct a name-based, statewide background check on prospective employees.
In the wake of intense opposition from numerous home care providers, AARP mounted an integrated campaign that included in-person lobbying by volunteers and staff, paid and earned media, social media and hundreds of calls and e-mails to legislators. This effort helped revive the proposal after it was initially defeated by the state House, ensured it was heard by the full Senate and that the final version with amendments was approved by the House and sent to the Governor for her signature.
The arrest of an Oklahoma long-term care employee who was charged with sexually assaulting five nursing home residents and who had previously been charged with manslaughter and abuse in another state underscored the importance of HB 2582 as legislators debated the proposal.
Another HCBS win was HB 2566 that will allow residents of Oklahoma’s assisted living facilities to freely choose their attending physicians and providers of medical services and supplies, such as pharmaceuticals, without being assessed a penalty for not using the facility’s preferred provider.
In many instances, these monthly fees have been as high as $200.
Finally, AARP worked to secure passage of HB 2270 which authorizes an increase in the Nursing Home Quality of Care Fee. This increase will generate approximately $34.2 million in federal funds for the state’s nursing homes – a significant portion of which will be used to strengthen consumer protections by increasing nursing home staffing.
All three measures will take effect Nov. 1.
Watch a video of the bill signings along with legislator interviews.