June 15, 2004
"We are adding protection through additional monitoring and penalties for people who try to take advantage of our seniors, by targeting their hard-earned savings or the money they need for retirement," Murkowski said. "Their quality of life will be improved by allowing continued access to volunteer and discount health care, and by allowing nonprofits and special service organizations to pool together and provide less costly health insurance plans."
HB 10, sponsored by Anchorage Reps. Cheryll Heinze and Norman Rokeberg, allows small businesses, nonprofit organizations, special services organizations, small associations, or self-employed individuals to pool together and purchase group health insurance plans for their employees.
"This bill takes a responsible approach to the problem of increasing cost of health care insurance by allowing more groups to pool their resources to get lower rates," Murkowski said.
HB 15, sponsored by Fairbanks Rep. Bud Fate, amends the Alaska Consumer Protection Act to create a state claim for violations of the national do-not-call registry, making it a violation of state law for a telemarketer to call a person on such a list. The bill also requires telephone solicitors to identify themselves and register with the Department of Law before doing business in the state.
"What this change means for Alaska seniors is that if someone attempts a deceptive trade practice, we are not going to wait for the federal government to act," Murkowski said. "We are going to use the weight of the Department of Law to make sure our seniors are protected."
HB 260, by Homer Rep. Paul Seaton, is intended to increase volunteerism from health care providers by exempting health care professionals from liability for donated medical services. Services must be provided at a medical facility owned or operated by a government entity or nonprofit organization. It does not in any other way alter the medical malpractice law, and health care providers would still be liable for actions resulting from gross negligence, reckless behavior or intentional misconduct.
"There are many licensed but retired nurses, doctors and other health care professionals who wish to help meet local health care needs, but are unable to do so because of the high cost of medical malpractice insurance," Murkowski said. "By increasing the availability of free health care services through clinics and health fairs, we will increase access to health care for many individuals who would otherwise not be able to have that access."
HB 339, sponsored by Anchorage Rep. Kevin Meyer, will protect consumers by requiring full disclosure of all obligations or "strings" that are attached to opt-out marketing plans or free trial periods, when marketers attempt to sell goods and services. The bill also requires express verifiable consent from the consumer prior to providing goods or services.
"Senior citizens have often been targeted by unscrupulous marketing organizations, and even when they opt-out, they oftentimes find the fine print has kept them in," Murkowski said. "This bill is intended to close loopholes that have been very frustrating for seniors who just want these aggressive marketers to leave them alone."
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