Tuesday, March 18, 2008

NSCLC posts Low Income Advocate Alert re Part D

The National Senior Citizens Law Center’s Low-Income Advocate Alert on Medicare Part D, March 2008, is available online at http://www.nsclc.org/areas/medicare-part-d/area_folder.2006-09-28.4596471630.  In this edition you will find information on:

  • CMS clarifies formulary guidance on prior authorization requirements, conversion to over-the-counter status, and off-label use.
  • 76,000 Low Income Subsidy (LIS) recipients will receive LIS termination notices from the Social Security Administration.
  • CMS suspends enrollment and marketing into Health Net Orange plans. 
  • Information about Part D plans’ obligations to reimburse incorrect cost-sharing. 
  • News specifically for California advocates, including information about Kaiser’s Special Needs Plan for dual eligibles, Medi-Cal coding errors, and an NSCLC guide on Part D transition drug supply policies.
  • And much more …

March 18, 2008 in Medicare | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Coalition seeks input on Medicaid waivers for AD and dementia

Via the Eldebar listserv:

A grass roots effort has begun in California around the issue of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and Dementia's not being covered by Medi-Cal due to a carve out from a Waiver and therefore not considered a mental health condition.  This effort has drawn together professionals from all fields associated with this issue; mental health, Alzheimer's Assn, Universities, Department of Aging and the list continues to grow as more people find out about this effort. Our objective is to look at best practices in States where people with Alzheimer’s disease are able to be served through Medicaid when psychiatric or Mental Health services are needed in addition to their medical care.  We are thinking particularly of people who become extremely agitated, anxious or aggressive, and may need more than usual help with combining/dosing and orchestrating psychotropic medications, or even allowing for short term, in-patient medication management in a psychiatric setting.  Are there states where they are successfully paying for and providing this type of crossover care for people who already have a diagnosis of AD, and are not dual diagnosis?

Send your responses directly to Shirley Krohn, Senior Assembly Member, California Senior Legislature at skrohn9520@aol.com   


March 18, 2008 in Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 14, 2008

UCLA study finds that federal elderly poverty standards underestimate living costs for seniors

The federal poverty guideline, used to determine income eligibility for many public programs, covers less than half of the basic costs experienced by adults age 65 and older in the state. This report shows how the new Elder Economic Security Standard index (Elder Index) for California provides an empirically-based measure that more accurately reflects county-level costs faced by older adults in the state.

In 2007, the federal poverty guideline for a single, elderly person was an annual income of $10,210, and for an older couple, $13,690. But according to the report's calculations, broken down by each California county, a basic annual cost of living for a retired older adult, in good health and living in rental housing, averages $21,011, reaching a high of $27,550 in San Mateo County. The supplemental materials include the Elder Index for each California county together with information on the health care, housing, food, transportation, and miscellanous costs that comprise the Elder Index.

The Elder Index is part of a statewide initiative to raise awareness, and to promote policy and programs, that assures income adequacy for all of the state's older adults. The statewide initiative is led by the Insight Center for Community Economic Economic Development, which is part of a national project headed by Wider Opportunities for Women.

Get the full report:  http://www.healthpolicy.ucla.edu/pubs/publication.asp?pubID=247

March 14, 2008 in Other | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Congress rejects Bush Medicare, Medicaid cuts

Congress has rejected President Bush’s proposals to scale back spending on Medicare and Medicare, an indication that New Jersey hospitals may not need to reduce services or close to stay in business.  The proposals were unpopular with congressional Democrats and Republicans, who lobbied against the proposals Bush outlined in his fiscal 2009 spending wish list. But Congress controls the federal purse strings.  Early this morning, the Senate voted 51-44 largely along party lines to adopt a spending blueprint for next year. Both New Jersey senators, who are Democrats, voted for it.  The House voted 212-207 on Thursday to adopt its version of the blueprint. Mirroring the broader partisan split, all seven New Jersey Democratic congressmen voted yes while all six GOP members voted no.

Source/more:  Courier-Post Online, http://www.courierpostonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080314/NEWS01/80314032/1006/news01

March 14, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Rising energy costs hit the elderly hard--so says CRS

Impact of Rising Energy Costs on Older Americans
March 04, 2008

Energy-related expenditures include spending for utilities and fuel to operate, heat, and cool homes and spending for gasoline and motor oil for private transportation. Energy prices to consumers have increased 70% between 2000 and 2007, driven largely by growth in prices for energy commodities such as petroleum. Petroleum-based products such as fuel oil, propane and gasoline comprise about 50% of household energy expenditures. Older Americans are disproportionately affected by higher energy costs. As a share of income, households headed by a person age 65 or older spend more on energy-related expenditures than their younger counterparts. In addition, low-income households (those with less than $15,000 in household income) spent nearly 20% of their household income on energy-related expenditures in 2006 (the latest year for which data are available). This compares to 7.3% spent by older households with incomes above $15,000. These estimates are for 2006 and do not reflect the additional 17% increase in energy prices that occurred in 2007. The key public program that provides energy assistance to low-income households is the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Approximately 40% of low-income households that were eligible for LIHEAP have a household member aged 60 or older. Funding for the LIHEAP Program has not kept pace with recent increases in energy costs of older Americans. This report will explore the burden of rising energy costs on older Americans and discuss implications for public policies. This report will be updated when new data is released.

Available Versions:

March 04, 2008

March 13, 2008 in Other | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

GAO issues report on CMS "hold harmless" rule

Pursuant to section 801(a)(2)(A) of title 5, United States Code, the GAO has issued a report on a major rule promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), entitled “Medicaid Program; Health Care-Related Taxes” (RIN: 0938-AO80).  It was published in the Federal Register as a final rule on February 22, 2008.

Read the final rule.

Get the GAO report.

Get the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities' report on the rule.

March 13, 2008 in Medicare | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

CRS report discusses Roth and traditional IRAs

Traditional and Roth Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs): A Primer
March 03, 2003

In response to concerns over the adequacy of retirement savings, Congress has created incentives to encourage individuals to save more for retirement through a variety of retirement plans. Some retirement plans are employer-sponsored (such as 401(k) plans), and others are established by individual employees (such as Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)). This report describes the primary features of two common retirement savings accounts that are available to individuals. Both traditional and Roth IRAs offer tax incentives to encourage individuals to save for retirement. Although the accounts have many features in common, they differ in some very important aspects. This report explains the eligibility requirements, contribution limits, tax deductibility of contributions, and rules for withdrawing funds from the accounts. This report will be updated as legislative activity warrants.

Get it here.

March 13, 2008 in Retirement | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

US comptroller chides Congress for sticking its head in the sand on unfunded liabilities

Ostrich_2   Comptroller General David Walker on Monday "chided" Congress for "ignoring the long-term financial crisis" for entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, CongressDaily reports.  In an interview with National Journal Group writers and editors, Walker, who will leave his post next week, said that Congress is "doing nothing about the $53 trillion hole" in funds for entitlement programs during the 21st century.   Walker recommended that the next president appoint a bipartisan commission to develop a proposal to address the issue and submit the plan to Congress. In addition, Walker recommended a "mandatory reconsideration trigger" for a reduction in Medicare spending in the event that spending for the program increases at a higher rate.

Under current law, the president must propose legislation to revise Medicare when trustees estimate for two consecutive years that general fund revenue would finance more than 45% of total program costs within seven years. The law does not require a reduction in Medicare spending. Walker said, "We write a blank check for (health care)," adding, "There is no other country in the world dumb enough to do that."

Source/more:  KFF Daily Health Policy Report, http://kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports/rep_index.cfm?DR_ID=50917



March 12, 2008 in Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

CCELS releases report on predatory lending in Canada

The Canadian Centre for Elder Law (CCEL), a division of the British Columbia Law Institute (BCLI), has just released its Study Paper on Predatory Lending Issues in Canada.

The subprime mortgage crisis in the United States has made the issue of predatory lending a hot topic worldwide. However, little attention has been paid to the legal aspects of predatory lending in the Canadian mortgage market.

“It appears that there are no specific laws to protect Canadians from a similar crisis occurring here,” remarked Ron Skolrood, Chair of the BCLI board of directors. “This study paper serves as a starting point for further discussion.”

Many Canadians think of predatory lending and the mortgage crisis as an American phenomenon from which they are safe. In truth, though the lending atmosphere in Canada has historically been more cautious than in the United States, the extent to which predatory lending occurs in Canada is largely unknown.This paper looks at factors in the Canadian market that may encourage or deter the development of predatory lending. As well, legal remedies for abusive lending practices and options for legal reform are explored.

The Canadian Centre for Elder Law strives to be a leader in law reform by carrying out the best in scholarly law reform research and writing and the best in outreach relating to law reform as they relate to older adults.

March 12, 2008 in Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Medicare Payment Advisory Commission's annual March report recommends physician reimbursement increase

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission's annual March report has recommended a 1.1% physician reimbursement increase for next year and a reduction in payments to Medicare private health plans.  The report assumes that lawmakers again will act to prevent physician pay cuts triggered by the sustainable growth rate formula. Existing law calls for a 10.6% reduction to take effect July 1 and an additional cut of about 5% in 2009.

Physician organizations, including the American Medical Association, welcomed MedPAC's continued support for a positive update. They called for a permanent replacement for the SGR based on increases in physicians' practice costs. But as was the case last year, MedPAC was unable to reach an internal consensus on an alternative to the current formula. "We are where we were," said Mark Miller, PhD, the commission's executive director.  MedPAC's lack of agreement on an SGR replacement is not helping to advance a solution, said Jim King, MD, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians. "As long as they continue to be so vague in their presentation, all it does is continue to confuse the issue."

Read more here:  http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2008/03/17/gvl10317.htm

March 11, 2008 in Medicare | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Congress unlikely to do much about health care reform

Via KFF: 

As presidential candidates debate their health care proposals, Congress is "unlikely to pass any major health bill," this year preferring instead "a bite-sized approach," Roll Call reports. Among issues targeted by lawmakers this year are changes to Medicare rules, mental health parity, health care information technology, comparative effectiveness and approval of generic versions of biotechnology drugs.  Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are planning to push an omnibus health bill in April that would contain Medicare legislation aiming to curb a 10% cut to physician payments. Similar legislation was proposed last year by the committee, but it was killed by a presidential veto threat, according to Roll Call.

The package would further delay the physician payment cut, implement quality-of-care measures for physician reimbursements, create electronic prescribing rules and increase regulation on marketing of Medicare Advantage plans, according to a Baucus aide. Roll Call reports that it likely would include provisions to increase public disclosure of gifts to physicians from the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.

The committee would like to curb the physician payment cuts for 18 months, at a cost of about $13 billion; however, the "package could be in jeopardy because of pay-as-you-go budget rules," according to Roll Call. Democrats have proposed reducing MA plan payments to offset the costs, but the White House and Republicans oppose such a move. Roll Call reports that Congress likely will back a six-month freeze as it did last year. The current delay ends on June 30.

Another option, which would not be limited by pay/go rules, would be to add Medicare provisions to a second economic stimulus package. Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, said that if a follow-up stimulus package is created, it likely would contain health care provisions.

Baucus said, "It's difficult to do anything major legislatively in an election year," adding that the election will "suck the oxygen out of the debate on the Hill" (Langel, Roll Call, 3/9). 

March 11, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 10, 2008

101 years young and training for a marathon? Seriously!

Buster Already Britain's oldest employee, 101-year-old Buster Martin now aims to become the world's oldest marathon runner by completing the London Marathon and celebrating with a pint of beer and a cigarette.Sprightly and bearded, he completed a half marathon at the weekend in five hours 13 minutes. The former Army physical training instructor works three days a week for a London plumbing firm and says he has trained for the April 13th race in his spare time.    

"I've said I'll attempt it," he told Reuters by telephone from his workplace at Pimlico Plumbers. "I haven't said I'll complete it. If I do make it, all the better. I hadn't thought of doing it before but someone asked me and the money goes to charity so why not?"  His sponsorship money will go to the Rhys Daniels Trust, which provides temporary accommodation for families of patients in specialist children's hospitals.   

Martin, who had 17 children and returned to work at the age of 99 saying he was bored after two years of retirement, would beat the previous record for world's oldest marathon runner by eight years.

Source/more:  Reuters UK, http://uk.reuters.com/article/oddlyEnoughNews/idUKL0516367220080306

Ed:  I turn 50 this year and hope to run my first 1/2 marathon before my birthday rolls around.  I can see that my next goal is a marathon at age 102, just to achieve a record.  52 years should give me just enough time to train.

March 10, 2008 in Other | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

NPR story focuses on elders victimized by reverse mortgages

For many seniors who are rich in home equity but poor in cash, reverse mortgages are becoming a popular option.  The growth in these mortgages has skyrocketed in recent years. According to a 2007 report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the number of reverse mortgages grew from nearly 8,000 in 2001 to more than 107,000 last year. The average loan amount grew 80 percent to $138,700 during the same time period, a 2007 report from the AARP Public Policy Institute found.

Advocates and regulators say the growth has opened the reverse mortgage industry to salespeople looking for a quick way to make a hefty commission — and some of them are unscrupulous. Some salespeople earn the trust of seniors by calling themselves "registered financial gerontologists" or certified senior advisers. They use aggressive sales methods, enticing seniors through radio and TV ads, and direct mail. They also try to sell other financial products, many of which are unnecessary and come with hefty fees.

Listen to the rest of the story here:  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=87994065

March 10, 2008 in Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

The last acceptable -ism--ageist jokes are still ok, it seems

Excerpted from the New York Times:

In a campaign hypersensitive about race and gender, jokes that play on crude racial and sexual stereotypes may be muted. But not codger jokes. Comics have gone to town on Senator John McCain, who clinched the Republican nomination last week and, at 71, would be the oldest candidate ever elected to a first term in the White House. (They recently got an even older target, Ralph Nader, the independent, 74.)

It is safe to say that not since 1996 — when the Republicans nominated Bob Dole, then 73, with his squarer-than-square persona and mortifying stage stumbles to match — have geezer jokes found such a cozy home in presidential politics.

Mr. Leno and his counterparts have been merciless with Mr. McCain, peppering their monologues with digs about dementia, pills, prostates and Miracle Ears. In a nightly schtick, David Letterman compares Mr. McCain to “the old guy at the barbershop,” “a mall-walker,” “a Wal-Mart greeter” and more. Conan O’Brien said recently: “After John McCain swept yesterday’s primaries, he purposely stole a line Barack Obama’s been using, ‘I’m fired up and ready to go.’ When Obama heard this, he stole a line McCain’s been using, ‘I’m old and not sure where I am.’ ” (Things get a lot nastier on the Web, for all the candidates.)

More at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/09/weekinreview/09bosman.html

March 10, 2008 in Discrimination | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Not elder law: world's oldest vaccine has been destroyed

he government announced Friday that it has said goodbye to one of the world's greatest lifesavers — the oldest smallpox vaccine. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this month made arrangements to dispose of the last of its 12 million doses of Dryvax, and notified other health departments and the military to do the same by Feb. 29.  Dryvax is being replaced in federal vaccine stockpiles by a more modern product manufactured in laboratories.  Dryvax was unusually dangerous for a vaccine, blamed in recent years for triggering heart attacks and a painful heart inflammation in some patients.  Still, attention should be paid on the occasion of its demise, said Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of Vanderbilt University's department of preventive medicine.

It is a "historical moment, because it's our oldest vaccine," Schaffner said. "It was a vaccine thatSmallpox_vax eliminated smallpox from the United States."  Smallpox is a deadly, infectious disease that plagued the world for centuries and killed nearly a third of the people it infected. Victims suffered scorching fever and body aches, then spots and blisters that would leave survivors with pitted scars.  Dryvax was created in the late 1800s, by the company that became Wyeth Laboratories. Wyeth was a primary U.S. manufacturer of smallpox vaccine by the mid-1940s, and was the only company left making it by the early 1960s, said Dr. D.A. Henderson, a University of Pittsburgh vaccine expert who played a key role in international smallpox eradication efforts.

Source/more:  The Associated Press, http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hNsTAryr0vXYW27JPTentgNimeTAD8V4BL3O0

March 8, 2008 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Upcoming: May 2008 is Older Americans Month

And in honor thereof, the Census Bureau has released its annual "state of the elderly" fact sheet:

A meeting with the National Council of Senior Citizens resulted in President John F. Kennedy designating May 1963 as Senior Citizens Month, encouraging the nation to pay tribute in some way to older people across the country. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter’s proclamation changed the name to Older Americans Month, a time to celebrate those 65 and older through ceremonies, events and public recognition.

37.3 million
The number of people 65 and older in the United States on July 1, 2006. This age group accounted for 12 percent of the total population. Between 2005 and 2006, this age group increased by 473,000 people.
Source: Population estimates <http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/population/010048.html>

86.7 million
Projected population of people 65 and older in 2050. People in this age group would comprise 21 percent of the total population at that time.
Source: Population projections <http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/population/001720.html>

Projected percentage increase in the 65-and-older population between 2000 and 2050. By comparison, the population as a whole would have increased by only 49 percent during the same period.
Source: Population projections <http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/population/001720.html>

506 million
Projected 2008 midyear world population 65 and older. Projections indicate the number will increase to 999 million by 2030.    
Source: Population projections <http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/idb/>

Median 2006 income of households with householders 65 and older, up 3.4 percent, in real terms, from the previous year.    
Source: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006

Poverty rate for people 65 and older in 2006, down from 10.1 percent in 2005. There were 3.4 million seniors in poverty in 2006, a decline from 3.6 million in 2005.
Source: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006

Median net worth for families in 2004 whose head was between 65 and 74. For those whose head was 75 or older, the corresponding figure was $163,100.
Source: Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2008 <http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/> (Table 699)

9.1 million
Estimated number of people 65 and older who are military veterans.    
Source: 2006 American Community Survey <http://factfinder.census.gov/>

5.5 million
Number of people 65 and older who were in the labor force in 2006. Projections indicate that by 2016, the number will reach 10.1 million.
Source: Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2008 <http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/> (Table 570)

  Percentage of people 65 to 74 in the labor force in 2006, up from 20 percent in 2000.
  Source: 2006 American Community Survey at <http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/american_community_survey_acs/010601.html>

Some of the highest rates were found in South Dakota, Nebraska and Washington, D.C., all with about one-third of people in this age group in the labor force. Among the 20 largest metro areas, Washington, D.C., had the highest percentage of people in the labor force in this age group (31.8 percent). Others with high percentages include Boston (28.1 percent), Dallas-Fort Worth (27.9 percent), Minneapolis-St. Paul (27.4 percent) and Houston (26.5 percent), none of which was statistically different from the other. Source: 2006 American Community Survey at

  Proportion of people 65 and older in 2007 with at least a high school diploma.       
Source: Educational Attainment in the United States: 2007 <http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/education/011196.html>

  Percentage of the population 65 and older in 2007 who had earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.    
Source: Educational Attainment in the United States: 2007 <http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/education/011196.html>

7.3 million
  Number of people 66 and older taking adult education courses, comprising about 8 percent of these students.    
Source: Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2008 <http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/> (Table 298)

  Number of people 65 and older enrolled in high school or college in October 2005.    
Source: School Enrollment – Social and Economic Characteristics of Students: October 2005


  Percentage of people 65 and older who were married in 2006.       
Source: 2006 American Community Survey <http://factfinder.census.gov/>

  Percentage of people 65 and older in 2006 who were widowed.    
Source: 2006 American Community Survey <http://factfinder.census.gov/>

Percentage of people 65 and older in 2006 who lived with relatives. Another 27 percent lived alone, while 5 percent lived in group quarters and 2 percent in a household with nonrelatives. In addition, 6 percent lived in their children’s home, and 1 percent lived with unmarried partners.
Source: 2006 American Community Survey <http://factfinder.census.gov/>

1.6 million
Number of people 65 and older who lived in nursing facilities in 2006. These residents comprised 4 percent of all people in this age group.
Source: 2006 American Community Survey <http://factfinder.census.gov/>

  Percentage of citizens 65 and older registered to vote in the 2004 presidential election. Seventy-one percent of citizens in this age group reported actually casting a ballot.          Source: Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2004

  In the 2004 presidential election, the percentage of votes cast by people 65 and older.
  Source: Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2004

Proportion of householders 65 and older in 2006 who owned their homes. This compares with 43 percent for householders at the other end of the age spectrum — younger than 35.
Source: Current Population Survey/Housing Vacancy Survey <http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing/hvs/hvs.html>

  Percentage of the nation’s business owners who are 65 and older.       Source: Characteristics of Business Owners: 2002


The number of men 65 and older on July 1, 2006, for every 100 women in this age group. For those 85 and older, it drops to 47 men per 100 women.
Source: Population estimates <http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/population/010048.html>

5.3 million
  The number of people 85 and older in the United States on July 1, 2006.    
Source: Population estimates <http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/population/010048.html>

  Estimated number of centenarians in the United States on Nov. 1, 2007.    
Source: Population estimates <http://www.census.gov/popest/national/asrh/2006_nat_res.html>

  Projected number of centenarians in the United States in 2040.    
Source: Population projections <http://www.census.gov/ipc/www/usinterimproj/>


3.9 million
Number of people 65 and older living in California on July 1, 2006, the highest total of any state. Florida, with 3 million, was the runner-up.
Source: Population estimates <http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/population/010048.html>

Percentage of Florida’s population 65 and older in 2006, which led the nation. Next to Florida, states with the highest percentages of older people include West Virginia (15.3 percent) and Pennsylvania (15.2 percent).
Source: Population estimates <http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/population/010048.html>

Percentage of the population of Charlotte County, Fla., that was 65 and older on July 1, 2006, which led the nation. In fact, Florida contributed four of the top 10 counties.
Source: Population estimates <http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/population/010482.html>

Percentage of households with a householder 65 and older who owns a motor vehicle. About 3 percent of these households have three or more cars.
Source: Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2008 <http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/> (Table 964)

March 8, 2008 in Statistics | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Low income Part D beneficiaries stand to lose subsidies on April 1

From the Center for Medicare Advocacy:The Social Security Administration (SSA) has begun mailing "SSA Medicare Prescription Drug Assistance Notice of Termination" letters to some beneficiaries who are currently receiving the low-income subsidy (LIS) or "Extra Help."  The letters are being sent to beneficiaries who did not provide SSA with information it requested to determine their continuing eligibility for the LIS. About 76,000 beneficiaries began receiving this mailing during the week of March 2. Beneficiaries who do not act immediately upon receiving the letter to request an appeal will no longer receive the LIS to pay for Part D premiums and cost-sharing effective April 1.
SSA requested information in September 2007 as part of its formal redetermination process.  The process, which was completed in February, involved multiple attempts by SSA to contact beneficiaries who were subject to redetermination.  SSA indicates that approximately 80,000 people responded to its follow-up contacts; people who responded should not receive the SSA "Medicare Prescription Drug Assistance Notice of Termination" letter being sent out this week. Beneficiaries who believe they are, or even might still be, eligible for the LIS should contact SSA within 10 days of receiving their letter to request an appeal.  If they do so, they can continue receiving LIS until their appeal has been decided, regardless of whether it is decided in their favor.
Appeals can be filed after the 10 days but not later than 60 days after receiving the SSA letter, but beneficiaries filing after the first 10 days will not continue to receive LIS pending their appeal.  LIS may also continue for beneficiaries who can show good cause why they did not file an appeal within 10 days

Source/more:  http://www.medicareadvocacy.org/PartD_08_03.07.LISTermination.htm

March 8, 2008 in Medicare | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Scottish nurse found guilty of murdering elderly patients

A nurse has been found guilty of murdering elderly patients in his care at two Leeds hospitals. Colin Norris, 32, had denied killing the four women at Leeds General Infirmary and St James's Hospital in 2002 by injecting them with insulin. Norris, of Egilsay Terrace, Glasgow, was also convicted of the attempted murder of another patient. The family of one of his victims, Ethel Hall, has called for an inquiry into Norris's killing spree. The trial heard suspicions were raised when Norris predicted the death of Mrs Hall who soon afterwards slipped into a fatal coma. Mrs Hall, 86, from Calverley, Leeds, was recovering after hip surgery at Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) at the time of her death. Tests later showed about 12 times the normal level of insulin in her blood, which the prosecution claimed was caused by injections from Norris. Police then looked into other patients' deaths and discovered that three more elderly women had slipped into hypoglycaemic comas and died while under Norris's care. The staff nurse has been found guilty of the murders of Mrs Hall, Doris Ludlum, 80, of Pudsey, and Bridget Bourke, 88, of Holbeck, at LGI. He was also convicted of the murder of Irene Crooks, 79, of Leeds, at St James's Hospital and the attempted murder of Vera Wilby, 90, of Rawdon, at the infirmary. Source and more: BBC

March 3, 2008 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Iowa smoking ban legislation would not apply to nursing homes

A sweeping statewide smoking ban passed the Iowa Senate Wednesday night, but whether it becomes law depends on House Democrats' ability to drum up the votes for it.  After the 29-21 vote, there was jubilation among Senate Democrats who have been fighting hard to prohibit smoking in all enclosed places of employment, includingWoman_2 restaurants, bars and casinos.  During an eight-hour shift, she said, a worker in a smoky casino inhales the equivalent of 16 cigarettes."As our surrounding states pass legislation creating smoke-free environments in all public places and areas of work, we as Iowans cannot neglect the opportunity to protect the health of every citizen in our own state," she told lawmakers.

Nebraska, Minnesota and Illinois already have statewide smoke-free laws. Wisconsin and South Dakota are struggling to reach compromises.  The bill the Senate passed on would ban smoking in state veterans facilities, private veterans organizations, outdoor entertainment venues such as amphitheaters and tennis courts, taxicabs, homes that serve as child care centers, and other places.

Iowans would still be able to smoke in most places outdoors, and inside private homes, some hotel rooms, tobacco stores, semiprivate rooms in long-term-care facilities, some areas of the Iowa State Fair, farm machinery and most limousine services.

Source/more:  http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080228/NEWS10/802280394/1001/NEWS

March 3, 2008 in Housing | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

2008 Ann F. Baum Memorial Lecture on Elder Law

The 2008 Ann F. Baum Memorial Lecture on Elder Law will be delivered on Monday, March 3 at 12:30 p.m. in the Max L. Rowe Auditorium by Professor Jon Pynoos of the University of Southern California. The lecture is entitled "Aging in Place, Housing, and the Law" and will discuss the desire of older people to stay in their own housing and communities as long as possible. “Aging in Place” is often hindered by housing which, in spite of legislation, remains inaccessible and unsupportive, pushing frail older people towards settings such as nursing homes. Professor Pynoos argues that in order to make “Aging in Place” a reality, new policies are needed to modify existing housing, create housing based on principles of universal design, and provide a range of housing types in communities. Professor Pynoos is the UPS Foundation Professor of Gerontology, Policy, Planning and Development at the Andrus Gerontology Center of the University of Southern California. He directs the National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Home Modification, and co-directs the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence. In addition, he is on the Board of the American Society on Aging, has served as Vice President of the Gerontological Society of America, and is a member of the California Commission on Aging. Professor Pynoos has written and edited six books on housing and the elderly, including Linking Housing and Services for Older Adults: Obstacles, Options, and Opportunities; Housing the Aged: Design Directives and Policy Considerations; and Housing Frail Elders: International Policies, Perspectives and Prospects. Professor Pynoos holds undergraduate, Master's and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard and has been awarded both Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellowships. Before moving to USC in 1979, Professor Pynoos was Director of an Area Agency on Aging/Home Care Corporation in Massachusetts that provided a range of services to keep older persons out of institutional settings. A reception will be held following the lecture in the Peer and Sarah Pedersen Pavilion.

March 3, 2008 in Housing | Permalink | TrackBack (0)