Thursday, January 31, 2008
Submissions are now called for Volume 5 of the Elder Law Review. The theme for this volume will be undue influence. The guest editor is Professor Margaret Hall, University of British Columbia, Faculty of Law. The closing date for submissions is 1 April, 2008.
Original, unpublished contributions are invited for any of the following sections of the Review:
• The Comments section, which consists of contributions from government, lawyers and aged care representatives, commenting on issues which the contributor perceives to be of contemporary significance.
• News and Current Issues.
• Elder Law in Practice which profiles legal practices, community projects, social justice initiatives and pro-bono schemes from all over the world that specifically target the legal needs of older people.
• The Articles section, containing international refereed scholarly articles about topical issues in elder law. We will consider articles of any length, but prefer them to be between 2000 and 8000 words.
Contributors are reminded that papers should be written in clear language accessible to specialists and non-specialists alike.
Papers must conform to the Australian Guide to Legal Citation which can be accessed at http://www.law.unimelb.edu.au/mulr/.
In particular, contributors should note the conventions regarding footnotes and bibliographies.
For further information please contact Professor Margaret Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Elder Law Review is a refereed journal. Submissions to the Article section are subject to peer review. Publication cannot be guaranteed.
Nearly half of all elderly people in China's cities live alone and have inadequate healthcare, state media said Wednesday, citing a recent survey. An estimated 49.7 percent of city dwellers aged 60 or older lived in "empty nests," Xinhua news agency said, quoting a survey by the government-run China Elderly Work Committee Office. In the past, care for the elderly was considered a key virtue but greater individualism in recent decades has led to the corrosion of traditional values, analysts say. The survey found that the number of Chinese aged 60 and older in late 2006 was 149 million, or 11.3 percent of the population, imposing a growing welfare burden on China.
"As the country's population is aging, more old people are in need of long-term care," the report said, quoting Guo Haoming, an official with the Chinese Association for Life Care, a Beijing-based volunteer organisation. Guo said the elderly needed daily care, mental support, emergency aid and hospice care but the development of related industries lagged behind, with the services available far from adequate.
The PA state House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to relieve lower income seniors of their school property tax burden, undercutting a proposal that would have slashed property taxes for all homeowners but raised sales and income taxes. The property tax debate was expected to continue Wednesday amid uncertainty about what if anything will finally emerge from the chamber.
The plan that was approved Tuesday, sponsored
by veteran Republican floor strategist Rep. John M. Perzel of
Philadelphia, would dedicate the billion dollars or more a year that
the slots gambling industry is projected to generate to pay the taxes
of older Pennsylvanians on 600,000 homes and other properties.
It passed 159-36 but requires another favorable vote to be sent to the Senate.
Majority Leader Bill DeWeese, D-Greene, said the House would next take up a proposal to amend the constitution by ending school districts' authority to levy real estate property taxes in 2010. If passed, it could in turn affect or cancel out Perzel's legislation. Perzel's amendment includes an age limit of 65 and an income limit for a full tax cut of $40,000. It would not increase any other taxes, unlike the Democratic plan, but it would leave empty-handed about 2.7 million families who would otherwise be on track to get tax relief next year. Perzel disputed predictions his legislation would be vetoed.
Source: AP/PhillyBurbs.com, http://www.phillyburbs.com/pb-dyn/news/246-01302008-1479368.html
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Check out this CRS report, 'What is a Recession'
A recession is one of several discrete phases in the overall business cycle. The term may often be used loosely to describe an economy that is slowing down or characterized by weakness in at least one major sector like the housing market. When used by economists, "recession" means a significant decline in overall economic activity that lasts more than a few months. The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) business cycle dating committee is the generally recognized arbiter of the dates of the beginnings and ends of recessions. As with all statistics, it takes some time to compile the data, which means they are only available after the events they describe. Moreover, because it takes time to discern changes in trends given the usual month-to-month volatility in economic indicators, and because the data are subject to revision, it takes some time before the dating committee can agree that a recession began at a certain date. It can be a year or more after the fact that the dating committee announces the date of the beginning of a recession.
Remember: CRS prepares these reports at the request of US Senators and Representatives. That is, they ask questions to which they don't know the answer. Think about it.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Nineteen deaths at the VA Medical Center in Marion, IL were linked
to surgical errors or substandard care - a total nearly doubling
earlier estimates of 10 patient deaths - in a report made public Monday
from an investigation into the medical center's surgical unit. Of
29 deaths that occurred at the Marion facility during Fiscal Year 2007,
the Inspector General's Office of Healthcare Inspections reported that
19 deaths were either the result of surgical error or because patients
had received less-than-optimum care. Six physicians have been linked to
patient care problems, with two resigning their duties and the
remaining four prohibited from performing complex surgeries. Congressman Jerry Costello described Monday's report as "shocking." "First
and foremost, the families of the (additional) nine veterans who have
died due to substandard care need to be notified. The report must be
released to the public immediately. Changes must also be made in the
management structure of the facility." Costello
said it appears to him that Marion officials made "poor" management
decisions and ignored procedures that were already in place.
Old timers may remember the early days of the Web, when the Kansas Elder Law Network was (I say immodestly) one of the best sources of up to date elder law info. I am happy to report that the National Elder Law Network, www.neln.org, KELN's successor, is back on-line with new and updated bibliographies and articles. New material is being added every day. Check out current content at
For future reference, bookmark www.neln.org
President punted on Medicare in his State of the Union address, lumping
together Medicare with Medicaid and Social Security and telling
Congress to fix them. The Center for
Medicare Advocacy works on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries to ensure
they get the health care they need. "We are happy to take up the
President's challenge," says Judith Stein, Executive Director of the
Center for Medicare Advocacy. "The way to support traditional Medicare
and end billions of dollars in unnecessary government spending is to
cut the $150 billion subsidies being paid to private Medicare plans.
This windfall to private corporations undermines traditional Medicare,
threatens its future, and burdens taxpayers," says Stein. "Instead of giving $150 billion to corporations, give it back to
taxpayers," Stein states. "If the President's challenge is real, the
answer is clear. Stop pretending privatizing Medicare saves money and
offers better care. Cut this 'earmark' to private insurance companies.
This will sustain Medicare, and help the economy." "Congress and the President should support traditional Medicare, says
Stein. "It is a proven, cost-effective way to provide access to health
care for older people and people with disabilities." "In fact," Stein
continues, "traditional Medicare is a model for a fair, uniform, and
cost-effective health insurance program."
Judith Stein is available for comment.
Leading a sedentary lifestyle may make us genetically old before our time, a study suggests. A study of twins found those who were physically active during their leisure time appeared biologically younger than their sedentary peers.>The researchers found key pieces of DNA called telomeres shortened more quickly in inactive people. It is thought that could signify faster cellular ageing.The King's College London study appears in Archives of Internal Medicine.
To help people monitor changes in private plans in Medicare, the Kaiser Family Foundation has updated its interactive online resource, the Medicare Health and Prescription Drug Plan Tracker, with new 2008 data. The Tracker provides local, regional and national information about Medicare Advantage plans, including HMOs, regional and local PPOs, private fee-for-service plans, and special needs plans. It also includes current information on stand-alone prescription drug plans offered, along with updated 2007 enrollment data for Medicare Advantage and stand-alone prescription drug plans. The online tool can be used to monitor changes in Medicare Advantage enrollment over time within counties, states and nationally.
US DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR
GENERAL, _FEDERAL REGISTER_ NOTICE: ""Solicitation of Information and
Recommendations for Revising the Compliance Program Guidance for
Nursing Facilities," (_FR_, Vol. 73, No. 16, .pdf format, p. 4248-4249,
via HHS OIG.)
This Federal Register notice seeks the input and recommendations of interested parties as OIG revises the compliance program guidance (CPG) for nursing facilities, especially those serving Medicare, Medicaid, and other Federal health care program beneficiaries. The nursing home industry has experienced a number of changes since OIG first published a CPG in this area (65 FR 14289; March 16,
2000). Additionally, the subsequent years of enforcement and compliance activity in the nursing home industry has allowed OIG to address more fully the various risk areas in nursing home compliance. In evaluating the contents of the nursing facility CPG, OIG is soliciting comments, recommendations,
and other suggestions from concerned parties and organizations on how best to revise the nursing facility CPG to address relevant compliance issues. Specifically, OIG seeks comments addressing any changes to existing risk areas and introducing any new risk areas.
DEADLINE Feb. 25, 2008
Monday, January 28, 2008
Around 2.7 million people have incorrect Social Security payment information on a needed tax document, the Social Security Administration said Thursday as the agency moved quickly to mail out corrections. The document affected is the Social Security Benefit Statement, or Form SSA-1099. That document is needed by Social Security recipients to complete their federal income tax return and to find out whether their benefits are subject to income tax. The Social Security Administration mailed those statements to 53 million people in January. It goes to people who received a Social Security payment during the previous calendar year. The agency said a computer programming error caused Medicare Part C and/or Part D premium deduction amounts, and some garnishment deduction amounts, for 2006 to be included in the amounts reported for 2007. That meant the "Benefits for 2007" fields, which are boxes 3 and 5 of the SSA-1099, and the "Description of Amount in Box 3" field had incorrect amounts for the affected people. Corrected SSA-1099s and an apology will be in the mail by Friday, the agency said. The programming error also has been fixed. The corrected SSA-1099 will have "Corrected Notice" on the envelope and "Corrected Tax Information" on the SSA-1099 itself in red typeface.
Source/more: Ap/Google, http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jdO6jPNnbdyp3dwoArVlnfCtJdnwD8UCI0TO0
A package about aging in America appeared in the Washington Post's "Outlook" section yesterday. Articles include
--"encore careers" for baby boomers,
--the challenges that divorce has created for children who now need to care for aging parents and step-parents
--the hidden epidemic of elder abuse
Marie-Therese Connolly, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, former coordinator of the Department of Justice's Elder Justice and Nursing Home Initiative, and the author of the above article "A Hidden Crime" will be online Monday, Jan. 28 at 1 p.m. ET to take questions on her Outlook article,"A Hidden Crime", about the horrible circumstances U.S. senior citizens too often are left in, and what can be done to prevent elder neglect. To link to the discussion visit: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/liveonline/schedule/front.html
Friday, January 25, 2008
In the fourth year of implementation of the Improper Payments Information Act of 20021 (IPIA), major executive branch agencies reported a total improper payment estimate of about $55 billion for fiscal year 2007. This increase from the prior year estimate of $41 billion was primarily attributable to a component of the Medicaid program reporting improper payments for the first time totaling about $13 billion for fiscal year 2007. We view this increased reporting as a positive step to improve transparency over the full magnitude of improper payments across the federal government.
The objective of this report is to provide summary data and preliminary analysis of the improper payment estimates reported by federal executive branch agencies (federal agencies) in their fiscal year 2007 performance and accountability reports (PAR) or annual reports. We obtained this information during our audit of the U.S. Consolidated Financial Statements for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2007.
Source/More: GAO report D08377r, http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08377r.pdf?source=ra
Julie Christie rose to fame in the 1960s as one of the great film beauties who lit up the big screen in movies such as Darling, Doctor Zhivago and Far From The Madding Crowd. But the Oscar-winning actress spent many subsequent decades shunning the limelight, often turning down movie roles for political activism and life on her Welsh farm. Away From Her, the story of a woman with Alzheimer's and the role for which Christie has been nominated for a best actress Oscar is her first lead role in a decade. She has already snapped up the Golden Globe.
For several years, a local initiative based at Temple University has captured the energy and expertise of many of the area's elders by connecting them to nonprofits. Now, a $1.8 million grant over three years will allow Coming of Age to take its model on the road and replicate it around the country. "There's a recognition that people age 50-plus are a tremendous resource for our nation, our communities," Dick Goldberg, director of the initiative, said yesterday as he announced the grant. It is from the Atlantic Philanthropies, an international foundation based in Bermuda that billionaire American philanthropist Charles Feeney began. The grant will allow Coming of Age to bring programs to eight communities (still to be chosen) around the country - programs such as Boomervision!, a series of community dialogues held at PBS station WHYY's studios since 2005, and Learning Lab, which has brought nonprofits together to share strategies to tap retirees. The money also will help broaden the initiative's reach into Asian and Hispanic communities in this area. Coming of Age has boosted the number of those 50-plus who contribute time, either unpaid or paid, to community organizations, and it has expanded the types of opportunities available to older baby boomers and others, Stacey Easterling, program executive for the U.S. Aging Team of the philanthropy, said from New York
Source/more: Philadelphia Inquirer, http://www.philly.com/inquirer/local/pa/20080123_A_growing_search_for_wisdom_of_the_elders.html
Thursday, January 24, 2008
More and more older Americans are trying complementary and alternative
medicine. Practitioners across the country report an increase in the
number of patients ages 50 and up seeking nontraditional treatment,
from acupuncture to herbal supplements and chiropractic remedies. The move to nontraditional treatment is encouraged by AARP. "It's people who are willing to shed the old mantra of what is medical
care and what isn't," said Cheryl Matheis, director of health strategy
for AARP. While health experts and aging advocacy groups welcome the trend, they
also caution older Americans to keep their traditional doctors in the
"You're the patient, and you need to know what the interaction of different things and different treatments on your body is going to be, or you could end up doing yourself more harm than good," Matheis said.
Center for Medicare Advocacy alert: new poverty guidelines will affect Medicare/Medicaid eligibility
New federal poverty level (FPL) guidelines published January 23, 2008 will affect eligibility levels for many public benefits, including health benefits for older people and people with disabilities. 73 Fed. Reg. 3971, (January 23, 2008). The new numbers are effective when published, but each program that relies on them may use a different effective date.
The published poverty levels merely state a dollar figure for different sized family units. They do not address issues of what income is included, what deductions from income are allowed, who is included in a family unit or other use issues. These questions are addressed by the individual programs relying on the poverty guidelines. The amounts given below apply to the 48 contiguous states and Washington, DC. Rates for Alaska and Hawaii are slightly higher. A complete list of FPLs is available at <http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/08poverty.shtml>
Federal health programs affecting older people and people with disabilities that rely on federal poverty guidelines:
Poverty Level Aged and Disabled (PLAD): States can choose to provide full Medicaid benefits to aged and disabled individuals with incomes up to 100% of the federal poverty level (FPL). For states choosing 100% FPL as their ceiling, eligibility levels for 2008 will be $866.67/month ($10,400/year) for an individual; to $1166.67/month ($14,000/year) for a couple.
Amounts protected for the at-home spouse of a Medicaid nursing facility resident: Medicaid law allows for certain levels of income and resources to be protected for the community spouse of a nursing facility resident whose care is paid for by Medicaid and who otherwise would have to pay most of her/his income to the facility. The minimum amount of income protected is 150% FPL for two people ($1,750/month); states must use this amount beginning July 1, 2008 and they may use it immediately. If they do not use it immediately, they will continue to use $1,711.25. Other protected amounts for 2008, not linked to FPL, are maximum monthly protected income, $2,610, minimum resource allowance, $20,880, and maximum resource allowance, $104,400.
Medicare Savings Programs:
Qualified Medicare Beneficiaries (QMBs): States must be responsible for all Medicare cost-sharing for Medicare Beneficiaries with incomes up to 100% FPL and limited resources. For this group, the increase will also be to $866.67/month ($10,400/year) for an individual; $1,166.67/month ($14,000) for a couple.
Specified Low-income Medicare Beneficiaries (SLMBs): States must pay the Medicare Part B premium for Medicare beneficiaries with incomes between 100% FPL and 120% FPL and limited resources. The new limit for this group will be $1,040/month ($12,480/year) for an individual; $1,400/month ($16,800/year) for a couple.
Qualified Individual (QI): States have a limited amount of money from which they must pay, on a first come, first served basis, the Medicare Part B premium for Medicare beneficiaries with incomes between 120% FPL and 135% FPL and limited resources. The limit for this group is $1,170/month ($14,040/year) for an individual; $1,575/month ($18,900/year) for a couple.
Qualified Disabled and Working Individual (QDWI): States must pay the Medicare Part A premium for certain working disabled Medicare beneficiaries who have exhausted their entitlement to premium-free Part A benefits and whose incomes do not exceed 200% FPL. The new limit for this group is $1,733.33/month ($20,800/year) for an individual; $2,333.33/month ($28,000/year) for a couple.
Add $20 to each of the monthly amounts listed above to determine the actual eligibility limit, since applicants are allowed a $20 disregard from any income before their income is measured against the poverty levels. Couples only get one $20 disregard.
Part D Low-income Subsidies:
Full Subsidy: Medicare Part D provides a full drug subsidy with low co-payments to Medicare beneficiaries with incomes up to 135% FPL and limited resources. For those individuals, the 2008 eligibility limit is $1,170/month ($14,040/year) for an individual; $1,575/month ($18,900/year) for a couple.
Partial Subsidy: Medicare Part D provides a partial subsidy of premium, deductible and co-insurance to Medicare beneficiaries with incomes up to 150% FPL and limited (but higher than allowed for full subsidy) resources. The income limit for this group is $1,300/month ($15,600/year) for an individual; $1,750/month ($21,000/year) for a couple.
As with the Medicaid and MSP monthly amounts, add $20 to account for the disregard.
Unlike rules for Medicare Savings Programs, which allow for a family unit of only one or two, eligibility rules for Part D subsidies will recognize larger family units, to the extent that those family members rely on the applicant or her spouse for one half of their financial support. To calculate the levels for larger family units, start with the yearly amount for one ($10,400), add $3,600 for each additional family member, multiply by the applicable percentage of poverty (135% or 150%) and divide the result by 12 for a monthly amount.
The 2008 poverty guidelines will be used to compute Part D low-income subsidies for the rest of 2008 and for the early months of 2009, until new guidelines are published. Applications filed in late 2007 that "failed" 2007 income tests have been held by the Social Security Administration for evaluation using the 2008 guidelines.
Source: Center for Medicare Advocacy, http://medicareadvocacy.org/
Dementia must be viewed as an urgent priority after years of woeful neglect by the NHS, says the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC). The disease deserves the same attention accorded to cancer and heart disease, given that so many of us are now set to develop the condition, the MPs said. They compared it to cancer in the 1950s, when fear and mystery surrounded a disease seen as untreatable. Just over 500,000 people in England suffer from dementia. The report from the cross-party committee, which scrutinises public spending , follows one from the National Audit Office which said England lagged behind Europe when it came to diagnosis and access to drugs. The panel, which is led by a Tory MP, says the Department of Health has not given the disease the attention it deserves and so the NHS has failed to deliver on both fronts.