Monday, January 29, 2018

Advocacy Update - February 5

Federal Advocacy
  • Very important to Alaska's health delivery system are the Federally Qualified Health Centers, better known as Community Health Centers. They serve people across Alaska, both urban and rural, and they accept Medicare and Medicaid, as well as private health insurance. CHC's offer primary care and often dental care as well, at affordable rates. Funding for CHC's comes from Congress, which is now contending on the latest omnibus spending bill. They have to pass something by Feb. 8, or there will be another government shutdown. It is critical that CHC's are included for funding. You can lend support by contacting members of Alaska's delegation and urging them to support a re-authorization for CHC funding without delay.
State Advocacy
  • One of AARP Alaska's legislative priorities is the re-authorization of the Senior Benefits Program, which is due to expire (sunset) at the end of June.  The Senior Benefits Program provides monthly cash assistance to low-income Alaskans 65+, based on their income (eligibility levels change yearly with updates to the Federal Poverty Guidelines).  Rep. Scott Kawasaki introduced House Bill 236 last Spring to reauthorize the Program for three years (customary).  HB 236 will be heard and voted on in the House HSS Committee Tuesday afternoon.  If it passes, it is scheduled go to House Finance on Wednesday.  Meanwhile, Sen. Pete Kelly introduced SB 170 last week to re-authorize Senior Benefits for five more years.  SB 170 will be heard in Senate HSS Committee on Wednesday at 1:30.  HB 236 has already received extensive public comment and will likely just proceed to a vote.  SB 170 will be open to public comment in Senate Health and Social Services Committee.
 Local Advocacy
What We're Reading - Need Rehab?  Beward of Medicare's "Observation Status"

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