AARP proposes legislation to save Mississippi money

By Jon Kalahar - email

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - In a tough budget year statewide, most groups lobbying state lawmakers for funds will have to look elsewhere. Unless, like the AARP, they have an idea or two on how to save the state money.

As a part of their "Divided We Fail" agenda, members of the Mississippi chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons hopes lawmakers will listen to their ideas to help improve health care and the economy in the state.

"Taxpayers would save 40 thousand dollars per patient," said AARP Executive Council member Imogene Hoadley.

AARP members believe they can grab legislators' attention by offering ideas to help the state. By giving senior Mississippians a choice of Medicaid funded long term care, whether in a nursing home or home based service, the savings are obvious.

"We want to show the legislators that this is just the most cost effective way of saving money by channeling the funds into home and community based services," said AARP MS Associate State Director Ivory Craig.

At one time, the Attorney General's office employed a public utilities consumer advocate. AARP wants that office re-established to give Mississippians a voice and hopefully lower bills.

Senator John Horhn says it simply levels the playing field.

"We shouldn't have to depend on whether we've got a good person who's consumer driven on that commission as to whether consumers are gonna have their voices heard," said Horhn.

Horhn says he will bring the ideas before the state senate.

Attorney General Jim Hood says the consumer protection division looks out for consumers. However, he does not have a lawyer dedicated full time to utility matters. Hood says he would welcome the funding necessary to provide for a full-time consumer advocate.