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Older voters want text-while-driving ban, survey shows

Monday, February 4th, 2013 by John Kennedy

Voters age 50 and older overwhelmingly back legislative efforts to ban texting-while-driving, a new survey by AARP shows.

Some 93 percent of older voters polled support the prohibition, compared with only 5 percent who say they oppose such a law. The Legislature has considered some kind of text-ban for more than a decade, but advocates say the measure faces its best chance of becoming law this year.

A measure banning texting (SB 52) is slated to go before the Senate Transportation Committee on Wednesday.

AARP has 2.8 million members in Florida.

In other matters covered in the December survey of 880 Floridians, AARP found a majority (52 percent) support requiring online retailers to collect the state’s 6 percent sales tax from consumers, the same as brick-and-mortar retailers. Another 60 percent oppose the 2006 law that allowed Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy of Florida to collect money for nuclear power plants before building them.

House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, has said he’s open to taking another look at the law.

AARP, which is supporting the Medicaid expansion Gov. Rick Scott and Florida lawmakers are still considering,  also found most surveyed want more state attention and money going to long-term care.

The survey has a margin-of-error of plus-or-minus 3.3 percent.


AARP latest to weigh in against state’s Medicaid overhaul

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011 by John Kennedy

AARP  became the latest organization to fire off a letter urging federal authorities to reject the vast Medicaid overhaul approved by the state’s Republican-ruled Legislature last spring.

House Democrats, the Florida Medical Association, and the National Community Pharmacists Association are among dozens of groups that already have written the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) demanding it reject the state’s proposal to shift almost 3 million low-income, elderly and disabled Floridians into managed care programs.

The waiver sought by the state builds on a five-county pilot program started by former Gov. Jeb Bush. The program, which includes Broward County, has drawn criticism from patients who complain about being switched from one plan to another, or trouble seeing needed specialty doctors. Analysts have also given the pilot mixed reviews for its cost-savings and quality.

AARP, in a letter dated Wednesday, cites that performance, saying the state’s bid for federal approval for a waiver from existing requirements, “neither addresses the shortcomings of the current pilot program, nor recognizes the need for both a strong state oversight and a robust network of providers throughout the state.”

Joyce Rogers, an AARP senior vice-president, concluded the expansion also, “would place the state’s frailest and most vulnerable residents into a longterm managed care program that the state is not ready to operate.”

Scott draws heat from AARP for veto of bill easing background checks

Friday, June 24th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Gov. Rick Scott‘s veto of legislation easing background screening for volunteers working with seniors drew heat Friday from the state’s leading advocacy organization for seniors — AARP.

“No one wants older Floridians exposed to abuse.  However, we believe the vetoed legislation struck a balance between protecting the clients of community service agencies and the capability of those agencies to provide needed services,” said Jeff Johnson, AARP’s interim director for Florida.

Scott killed SB 1992 Thursday, warning that relaxing the background screening could pose a risk to seniors.

But community organizations and senior advocates had sought the change, saying that a 2010 law revamping background checks left Meals on Wheels and other groups struggling to pay the costs of additional screening or having to ask volunteers to pay close to $45 each out of their own pocket for the check.

Johnson also ridiculed Scott for endorsing the Legislature’s decision to reduce the level of mandatory staffing at nursing homes, even as the governor contended he was watching out for seniors.

“It is odd that Gov. Scott vetoed this bill, but signed legislation that puts frail seniors more at risk — the law allowing nursing homes to reduce nursing care for the frailest of all Floridians,” Johnson said. “There is an abundance of evidence that cutting nursing-home staffing standards leads directly to serious, even tragic, health problems for nursing-home residents.”

Scott in his veto indicated he was planning to sign an executive order intended at reviewing the state’s policy for background screening. He suggested this might lead to some help for caregiving organizations facing shortfalls in both money and volunteers.

But Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, also said Scott was off-base with his veto. Pafford, who develops business partnerships for The Lord’s Place shelter in West Palm Beach, said the veto, “makes it very clear that he does not have either the information or the knowledge to make consistent decisions when it comes to executing bills passed by the Florida Legislature.”

FPL rate hike case kicks off

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010 by Dara Kam

The Florida Public Service Commission will spend the day deciding on how much – if any – Florida Power & Light Co. deserves of the $1.2 billion rate hike it seeks.

Today’s proceeding, expected to last until this evening, began with a discussion from Commissioner Nathan Skop about the Juno Beach-based utility’s requested 12.5 percent return on equity – profitability to shareholders – and how much money that would require for customers to pay.

Watching the debate today are a group of AARP seniors who traveled to Tallahassee from Daytona Beach. AARP opposes the rate hike.

Health reform Halloween scary for seniors?

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Backers of President Barack Obama’s health care reforms unleashed a television ad in Orlando, Louisville and Washington pillorying Humana’s scare tactics targeting seniors and the plan’s impact on Medicare.

Americans United for Change, Obama’s campaign organization-turned unofficial presidential PR machine, is running the ad and also staging a protest at Humana headquarters in West Palm Beach today at noon.

Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services launched an investigation into Humana Inc.’s possible misuse of beneficiary information to send anti-health care mailers to its Medicare gap coverage enrollees. The Louisville-based insurer is one of the largest Medicare supplemental insurance providers.

Humana sent mailers to seniors in several states, including Florida, containing what could be misleading information about Obama’s plan, warning of cuts to benefits and increases in costs to the popular government-backed insurance plan for seniors.

According to the AARP’s web site, “None of the health care reform proposals being considered by Congress would cut Medicare benefits or increase your out-of-pocket costs for Medicare services.”

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