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Florida’s New Laws

Posted: June 9, 2011 in AARP AND FLAARP

Florida’s New Laws

2011 legislative session included a few wins, some losses and a late-breaking outrage

Florida lawmakers wrapped up their 2011 legislative session today, and the news was mixed for older Floridians.

Consumer issues

Florida telephone consumers, brace yourselves – your basic landline phone rates may be headed up.  Older consumers often prefer landline phones because they’re reliable, even in natural disasters, or because they are required for some health-alert systems.

Under this new law, phone companies will be able to raise rates for basic landline service at will.  Please start a file now to save your landline phone bills.  If your bills go up, we’ll be asking you to share rising phone costs with your legislators. Read more here.

Health and long-term care

Know someone who has chronic long-term health concerns?  Warn them – Florida nursing homes may soon not be safe for them.  At the very end of the legislative session, without ever holding a public hearing, legislators voted to reduce nursing care standards for Florida nursing homes.  Learn more.

If you encounter lower levels of nursing-home care for you or loved ones, AARP urges you to let us know – and to tell your legislator how the new law affected you.

Legislators also enacted a sweeping law forcing all Floridians to go through managed-care organizations to get care financed by Medicaid.  This includes older people getting care through Medicaid in nursing-homes – about two of three older Floridians in nursing homes.  AARP fought hard to ensure that local doctors and hospitals could band together to set up their own networks to provide patient-centered, high-quality care.

AARP urges you and your family to report any problems you experience in receiving care through the new system directly to your state legislators.

The session’s results weren’t all bad.  AARP was able to help stop legislation that could have let electric companies raise your rates to pay, in advance, for renewable-energy facilities.  Stopping the bill saved Florida consumers nearly $2 billion over five years.  AARP also helped stop an auto-title loan bill that would have let loan companies charge interest of 200 percent or more.

The Medicaid legislation was much improved thanks to your influence.

And while lawmakers did not adopt an outright ban on texting while driving, they required driver-safety courses to include warnings about the high risk of driving while holding phones or other electronic devices.   AARP driver-safety courses already contain such warnings.

Learn more here, or visit AARP Florida on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.  Or call us toll-free at 1-866-595-7678