Friday, January 16, 2009

News from the National Senior Citizens Law Center

National Senior Citizens Law Center

Los Angeles, CA | Oakland, CA | Washington, DC

January 15, 2009


Listed below are highlights of NSCLC’s work since our last update. You can find out more on our website:


Please Hold”: Medicare Plans Leave Limited English Proficient Beneficiaries Waiting for Access
This new report from the National Senior Citizens Law Center and other members of the California Medicare Part D Language Access Coalition shows that Medicare plans are not meeting their obligation to serve LEP beneficiaries.
Read the report  | For more information, contact: Kevin Prindiville

New Part D Pricing Scheme Causes Confusion, Increased Costs
NSCLC and other advocates warn that new pricing schemes used by some Medicare prescription drug plans will cause high, hidden costs for beneficiaries in 2009. NSCLC filed a complaint with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) asking the agency to stop marketing of plans that include the new “penalty” pricing.
Read more | For more information, contact: NSCLC’s Oakland office


CMS Nursing Home Ratings

In December CMS began a system in which each nursing facility in the country will receive a rating from one to five stars.  In response to the new program, NSCLC issued a press release analyzing the limitations of CMS's new rating system, and sent an alert to subscribers of the Long-Term Care Law Reporter analyzing the new system. This issue received a lot of media coverage, including the Contra Costa Times, the Arizona Daily Star and the Toledo Blade.
A full list of articles is available here. |  For more information, contact: Eric Carlson


Recommendations for DOJ Transition Team and Solicitor General
In addition to our Legislative and Administrative Agenda, NSCLC issued several recommendations for the Department of Justice transition team and the new Solicitor General. NSCLC believes that by consistently opposing unwarranted barriers to judicial relief, the Solicitor General could help to restore the integrity of a broad array of vital statutory safeguards.
Read the recommendations: Reinvigorating Federal Safeguards for Individual Rights and Benefits

For more information, contact: Simon Lazarus


Social Security “Fleeing” Penalty Litigation

In December, NSCLC and Munger, Tolles & Olson filed an amended complaint in the class-action lawsuit against the Social Security Administration (SSA) for suspending the retirement and disability benefits of over 100,000 poor, elderly and disabled Americans because of outstanding arrest warrants.  NSCLC attorneys put in an incredible amount of work to find and vet four new plaintiffs in the case, including an elderly Oklahoma woman who has gone without her Social Security Widows benefits for three years and has been unable to heat her home this winter.  This week, NSCLC filed motions to certify a nationwide class and for a preliminary injunction.
Read the amended complaint  |  For more information, contact: Gerald McIntyre


Monitoring State Medicaid Cuts

Calls from advocates seeking to prevent Medicaid cuts have jumped since the economic crisis hit. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, at least 17 states and DC are cutting medical, rehabilitative, home care or others services used by elderly or disabled people, or significantly increasing the costs of these services. Some of the cuts can be challenged. In other cases, NSCLC and our allies must advocate to ensure that states reinstate benefits if and when Congress passes a federal stimulus package.
For more information, contact: Gene Coffey


Tools for Medicare Part D Advocates

Enrollment Period Chart: This chart lists all Part D enrollment period available to Medicare beneficiaries and provides information on when enrollment and disenrollment rights start, on how long they last, and on special or unique elements of the enrollment right.  This should be particularly useful when you have clients who need to change plans but who do not qualify for the continuous Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for Low Income Beneficiaries.  The chart incorporates changes from CMS’s most recent guidance. Download the chart


Transition Rights Under Part D: This tool summarizes CMS’s requirements for plans to supply transition drug supplies to their enrollees.  Note that transition supply rights apply not just at the beginning of the plan year but also when a beneficiary changes plans midyear, when a beneficiary experiences a change in level of care, and when a beneficiary resides in a nursing home or similar institution. Download the tool


Upcoming Events
Webinar on Fire Safety in Assisting Living, January 28, 2009
Health Action 2009 Conference, January 29-31, 2009

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