Monday, June 29, 2009
Canadians offered opportunity to comment on UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, today invited Canadians to provide their views on the ratification and implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Beginning today, until July 31, 2009, stakeholders and other Canadians can provide their views on the Convention online at http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/consultations.
"The Convention promises to be an important tool for the protection and promotion of the human rights of people with disabilities worldwide," said Minister Finley. "This consultation process is an important opportunity for stakeholders and other Canadians to provide valuable feedback and recommendations on the potential impacts of the Convention for people with disabilities."
The Government of Canada is seeking the views of Canadians, particularly those in the disability community, in order to make an informed decision on the ratification of the Convention. These views could play an important role in the development of future measures.
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada is conducting a fully accessible online consultation. It is part of a core group of federal departments working on the ratification process. Federal departments, along with the provincial and territorial governments, are reviewing existing laws and policies to determine if they are in compliance with the treaty provisions.
Canada was among the first countries to sign the Convention in March 2007. By signing the Convention, the Government of Canada demonstrated its commitment to advance the rights of people with disabilities and human rights in general.
Canada's Economic Action Plan, introduced in Budget 2009, and other recent federal initiatives are also addressing the needs of people with disabilities and their families through a series of important measures that include:
- Providing $1 billion for renovations and energy retrofits of social housing, including renovations that support people with disabilities.
- Investing $400 million over two years for the construction of new social housing for seniors, including seniors with disabilities.
- Investing an additional $75 million over two years for the construction of new social housing units for people with disabilities.
- Investing $20 million for each of two years to improve the accessibility of federally owned buildings.
- Increasing the maximum amount of the Working Income Tax Benefit, including the supplement for people with disabilities.
- Extending the Home Buyers' Plan and the First-Time Home Buyers' Tax Credit to people with disabilities that are not first-time home buyers but are buying a more accessible or functional home.
- Beginning in fall 2009, increasing access to post-secondary education for students with permanent disabilities, including a new Repayment Assistance Plan for Borrowers with a Permanent Disability.
- Introducing the Registered Disability Savings Plan, which contributes to the financial security and well-being of people with severe disabilities.
To learn more about Canada's Economic Action Plan, visit www.actionplan.gc.ca.
A link to the sixth federal disability report, Advancing the Inclusion of People with Disabilities 2008, is available on the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada Web site at http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/en/disability_issues/reports/index.shtml.
Reference: The United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol were adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 13, 2006. Canada was one of the first countries to sign the Convention on March 30, 2007. By signing the Convention, Canada agreed to act in a manner that would not defeat the object and purpose of the treaty.
When the Government of Canada signed the Convention, it decided to conduct a broad consultation with stakeholders before making a decision on ratification. The federal departments leading the work toward ratification are Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), the Department of Justice Canada, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Canadian Heritage and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.
HRSDC officials were asked to lead online consultations with a broad range of stakeholders in order to contribute to making a well-informed decision on the ratification of the Convention.
The consultations with stakeholders will ensure that the broadest ranges of opinions are captured and that the fullest possible engagement is achieved. Since September 2007, 26 federal departments and agencies, as well as all the provinces and territories, have participated in the legal/policy review of domestic laws, policies, and programs to ensure that Canada is in compliance with the treaty.
Consultations with provincial and territorial governments on ratification of the Convention are being led jointly by the Department of Justice Canada and Canadian Heritage. The views of Aboriginal self-governing groups have also been sought prior to ratification, since some aspects of the Convention may impact on areas within their jurisdiction.
The consultation Web site will be open to receive feedback from Canadians until July 31, 2009.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Via the BBC:
Villagers, many straight from their farms, and armed with machetes, sticks and axes, are shouting and crowding round in a big group in Kenya's fertile Kisii district. I can't see clearly what is going on, but heavy smoke is rising from the ground and a horrible stench fills the air. More people are streaming up the hill, some of them with firewood and maize stalks. Suddenly an old woman breaks from the crowd, screaming for mercy. Three or four people go after her, beat her and drag her back, pushing her onto - what I can now see - is a raging fire.
I was witnessing a horrific practice which appears to be on the increase in Kenya - the lynching of people accused of being witches. I personally saw the burning alive of five elderly men and women in Itii village.
They point at me saying - that is a son of the witch
I had been visiting relatives in a nearby town, when I heard what was happening. I dashed to the scene, accompanied by a village elder. He reacted as if what we were watching was quite normal, which was shocking for me.
The Administration on Aging (AoA) has announced that Kathy J. Greenlee was unanimously confirmed by
the United States Senate as Assistant Secretary for Aging at the
Department of Health and Human Services. President Barack Obama
nominated Ms. Greenlee for the position on May 4, 2009.
Ms. Greenlee served as Kansas’ Secretary of Aging, heading a cabinet-level agency whose mission is to promote the security, dignity and independence of Kansas seniors. KDOA is responsible for administration of Older Americans Act programs, distribution of Medicaid long-term care payments and regulation of nursing home licensure and survey processes. Greenlee had previously served as the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman in Kansas, as well as the state’s Assistant Secretary of Aging, with the responsibilities of legislative liaison and chief budget officer.
As Assistant Secretary of Aging, Greenlee served as general counsel at the Kansas Insurance Department (KID). During her tenure at KID, she led the team of regulators who evaluated the proposed sale of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Kansas. While there, she also oversaw the Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas program, more commonly known as SHICK. That program is now part of the Department on Aging.
Kathy Greenlee recently served on the board of the National Association of State Units on Aging (NASUA). NASUA represents the nation's 56 officially designated state and territorial agencies on aging. Ms. Greenlee is a graduate of the University of Kansas with degrees in business administration and law.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Source: Kaiser Health Report/Employee Benefits Research Institute, http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/general-pages/DataPinsurancecoverage.aspx
The world’s 65-and-older population is projected to triple by midcentury, from 516 million in 2009 to 1.53 billion in 2050, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In contrast, the population under 15 is expected to increase by only 6 percent during the same period, from 1.83 billion to 1.93 billion.
In the United States, the population 65 and older will more than double by 2050, rising from 39 million today to 89 million. While children are projected to still outnumber the older population worldwide in 2050, the under 15 population in the United States is expected to fall below the older population by that date, increasing from 62 million today to 85 million.
These figures come from the world population estimates and projections released today through the Census Bureau’s International Data Base. This latest update includes projections by age, including people 100 and older, for 227 countries and areas.
Less than 8 percent of the world’s population is 65 and older. By 2030, the world’s population 65 and older is expected to reach 12 percent, and by 2050, that share is expected to grow to 16 percent.
“This shift in the age structure of the world’s population poses challenges to society, families, businesses, health care providers and policymakers to meet the needs of aging individuals,” said Wan He, demographer in the Census Bureau’s Population Division.
From 2009 to 2050, the world’s 85 and older population is projected to increase more than fivefold, from 40 million to 219 million. Because women generally live longer than men, they account for slightly more than half of the older population and represent nearly two-thirds of the 85 and older population.
Europe likely will continue to be the oldest region in the world: by 2050, 29 percent of its total population is projected to be 65 and older. On the other hand, sub-Saharan Africa is expected to remain the youngest region as a result of relatively higher fertility and, in some nations, the impact of HIV/AIDS. Only 5 percent of Africa’s population is projected to be 65 and older in 2050.
Countries experiencing relatively rapid declines in fertility combined with longer life spans will face increasingly older populations. These countries will see the highest growth rates in their older populations over the next 40 years.
There are four countries with 20 percent or more of their population 65 and older: Germany, Italy, Japan and Monaco. By 2030, 55 countries are expected to have at least one-in-five of their total population in this age category; by 2050, the number of countries could rise to more than 100.
Although China and India are the world’s most populous countries, their older populations do not represent large percentages of their total populations today. However, these countries do have the largest number of older people — 109 million and 62 million, respectively. Both countries are projected to undergo more rapid aging, and by 2050, will have about 350 million and 240 million people 65 and older, respectively.
The International Data Base offers a variety of demographic indicators for countries and areas of the world with populations of 5,000 or more. It provides information on population size and growth, age and sex composition, mortality, fertility and net migration.
Source: US Census Bureau, http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/international_population/013882.html
Related data: Older Population in the US, http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/aging_population/013862.html
Population by Age and Sex, http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/aging_population/013863.html
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
On Wednesday, June 24, the Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing called “Emergency Preparedness, Aging and Special Needs: Prepared vs. Scared!” At the hearing, Dr. Richard Besser, Director, Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response of the HHS Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), testified on behalf of the Department. During his testimony, Dr. Besser highlighted CDC’s work with the Administration on Aging and its aging network to better address the needs of older adults during public health emergencies. Other witnesses included Dr. Douglas Beach, Secretary of the Department of Elder Affairs of Florida, Sandra Markwood, CEO of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), LuMarie Polivka-West, Senior Vice President of Policy, Florida Health Care Association and Timothy Manning, Deputy Administrator for National Preparedness, FEMA. To read the testimony and to view the webcast of the hearing, visit: http://www.aging.senate.gov/hearings.cfm
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Online calculator helps people avoid dreaded “doughnut hole”
Each year, an estimated three million-plus older Americans fall into the “doughnut hole”—a coverage gap in Medicare’s prescription drug program that leaves individuals on the hook for all of their own drug costs while still paying premiums. The calculator, available at http://doughnuthole.aarp.org/ helps people find options to save money and potentially avoid this dreaded coverage gap.
The calculator guides visitors through their prescription drug options using localized information about their plans and prescriptions to determine if or when they will fall into the coverage gap. In about 15 minutes, visitors can view a graph of their out-of-pocket spending by month, look up lower cost drugs for their conditions, create a medication record, and print out personalized letters to their doctors to help start a conversation about safely switching prescriptions.
“More than three million people fall into the gap each year, and millions more nervously wonder if they might fall in,” said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond. “For the first time, people in Medicare have a simple way to learn if they’ll fall into the doughnut hole and find ways to avoid it by switching to safe, less expensive medications.”
The calculator is powered by DestinationRx as part of a special arrangement between AARP and Medicare. The data is the same used by the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Finder, giving users the most accurate and up-to-date drug pricing information available.
Monday, June 22, 2009
The Loyola Elder Law Initiative
Presents the 2009
Hurley, McKenna & Mertz Lecture Series Event
Tips and Trends in Long-Term Care
Eric M. Carlson, J.D.
Director, Long-Term Care Project
National Senior Citizens Law Center
July 16, 2009 - 6:00 PM
Loyola University Chicago School of Law
Room 1103, 25 East Pearson Street
The Topic: For consumers and many attorneys, long-term care is relatively unchartered territory. They may not realize the often significant discrepancy between a facility's current policies and legal obligations. Eric Carlson will describe common problems and provide practical tips for advocating on residents' behalf. He will also discuss significant trends in the provision of long-term care, noting both opportunities and potential pitfalls.
The Presenter: Eric Carlson is the Director of the Long-Term Care Project of the National Senior Citizens Law Center (NSCLC). He advises attorneys and others from across the country on long-term care issues and co-counsels litigation on residents' behalf. He is the author of numerous publications including Long-Term Care Advocacy (Lexis Publishing) and NSCLC's bi-monthly Long-Term Care Law Reporter.
The Event: The lecture is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.
The Hurley, McKenna & Mertz Lecture Series:
Hurley, McKenna & Mertz, P.C. is a partnership of trial lawyers dedicated to the representation of persons whose lives have been destroyed by the negligence of others. The firm's practice includes representation of nursing home residents and their families in cases of abuse, neglect, and fraud. Christopher T. Hurley founded Hurley, McKenna & Mertz in 1991. He graduated from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in 1984 and is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers.
To RSVP for the event, please contact Michelle Garvey at (312) 915-6775 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We appreciate your response, as seating is limited.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
drug makers agreed Saturday to shell out $80 billion over the next 10
years to lower the cost of medication for seniors and help pay for
President Obama's proposed healthcare overhaul, as part of an agreement
hashed out with lawmakers and administration officials. The deal means the pharmaceutical companies will extend discounts on
prescription drugs to millions of seniors who often must pay staggering
drug costs not covered by their Medicare plan, according to a White
The drug makers also have agreed to pick up some of the costs of the president's plan to remake the nation's healthcare system, legislation he hopes Congress will pass this year. "The agreement by pharmaceutical companies to contribute to the health reform effort comes on the heels of the landmark pledge many health industry leaders made to me last month, when they offered to do their part to reduce health spending $2 trillion over the next decade," Obama said in a statement Saturday afternoon.
Source/more: LA Times, http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-healthcare21-2009jun21,0,3211442.story
Thursday, June 18, 2009
In a June 17th video message, (full video message at
www.serve.gov) President Obama unveiled United We Serve, an extended
call to service challenging all Americans to help lay a new foundation
for growth in this country by engaging in sustained, meaningful
community service. The initiative will be led by the Corporation for
National and Community Service, the federal agency dedicated to
fostering service in communities across the country.
The United We Serve summer initiative begins on June 22nd and runs through the National Day of Service and Remembrance on September 11th. The National Day of Service and Remembrance was created by the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which President Obama signed in April to help encourage and facilitate community service across the country. During this summer, the President is renewing his call to all Americans to identify needs in their communities, engage in meaningful service to create change – and stay engaged with those projects long after September. The President’s call focuses on four key areas: education, health, energy and the environment and community renewal.
The goal of United We Serve is to help make volunteerism and community service part of the daily lives of all Americans in order to help build a new foundation, one community at a time. Further details about the June 22nd kickoff are forthcoming.
We encourage you to create new service projects, to find service projects in which you may want to participate and to share stories about projects that are making a difference in your community. To share stories, please go to www.serve.gov. AoA asks that you also share stories with us that we can highlight on the AoA website. Please go to http://www.aoa.gov/AoARoot/Press_Room/For_The_Press/medadv/Share_Story.aspx.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
A New York man has been arrested for impersonating his dead mother in order to claim $115,000in social security benefits and rent subsidies. Thomas Prusik-Parkin, 49, is accused by prosecutors of regularly dressing up in a wig, dress and make-up in order to fool the authorities. The alleged scam has been going on ever since Mr Prusik-Parkin's mother, Irene Prusik, died in 2003 at the age of 73. He faces charges of grand larceny (theft), forgery and conspiracy. "I held my mother when she was dying and breathed in her last breath, so I am my mother," Mr Prusik-Parkin said when he was arrested, according to police.
"Democrats Tom Daschle and George Mitchell are set to join Republicans Bob Dole and Howard Baker on Wednesday to release a $1.2 trillion proposal that would be fully paid for with a combination of spending cuts and tax increases," the Associated Press reports. The proposal from the four former Senate leaders "combines ideas from both political parties to guarantee coverage for all" and is an attempt to "prevent a repeat of the 1990s standoff over health care."
"A summary of the plan calls for an individual requirement to carry health insurance, an idea that many Republicans support. But it would also impose new levies on large companies that don't provide coverage to their workers, an approach preferred by Democrats. Perhaps the most controversial part calls for taxing health insurance benefits worth more than the value of the coverage that members of Congress get." As for the question of a public option, the proposal "would leave it up to the states to create publicly sponsored insurance plans that would compete with private insurers." The former Senators "acknowledged they don't have to answer to voters or worry about interest groups any longer. But they said health care is too important an issue to get dragged down again by partisan political warfare" (6/17).
Source: Kaiser Health News, http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Daily-Reports/2009/June/17/Daschle.aspx
Ed: Why does this bug me so much? They had no interest in health care reform when they were in a position to make a real difference...and then there is that pharmaceutical lobbying thing....hmmmm
Friday, June 12, 2009
group of Democratic senators on Thursday urged the Labor Department to reverse a Bush administration policy by extending federal wage and hour laws to home health care workers.
Most domestic workers are covered by laws governing minimum wage and overtime pay, but home workers that care for the elderly and disabled have long been considered exempt.
The 15 lawmakers — led by Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin — say the growing number of full-time home care workers serving an aging population deserve the same workplace rights as other employees.
"Home care, increasingly, has become not casual work performed by a friend or family member, but a full-time regular type of employment," the lawmakers said.
When Congress amended the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1974 to cover household workers, it exempted baby sitters and companions for the ill or elderly.
Two years ago, the Supreme Court upheld the Labor Department's interpretation of the law to exclude home care workers. The lawmakers say that decision also gives the agency — under a new administration — the right to change that interpretation.
At her confirmation hearing earlier this year, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis indicated a willingness to consider rules that would expand the law to all home care workers. But the agency has not yet issued any notice of proposed rules on the issue.
The lawmakers argue that today's professional caretakers are not the same as neighborhood friends and baby sitters who may provide informal child or elderly care from time to time. The number of full-time home care workers has surged with the growing number of retirees and more people are deciding to have long-term care in their homes instead of institutions.
More: AP/Google News, http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jcKsjb1O4ZawKtV4AKe3En3-JfcwD98OOO180
The American Medical Association
(AMA) has recently announced its opposition to a public insurance option.
Recognizing that a public option is essential to improving access and
containing costs, AMSA (American Medical Associateion) issued a statement confirming our support of a public
option (see www.amsa.org).
More information on the announcement:
Doctors’ Group Opposes Public Insurance Plan:
A second AMA statement:
And, and Op-Ed by 2005 AMSA Legislative Affairs Director Chris McCoy, MD: "Dear AMA: I Quit!"
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Long-term care plays a role in the Senate HELP committee health plan released Tuesday by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. The Associated Press
reports that "Americans would be able to buy long-term care insurance
from the government for $65 a month under a provision tucked into
sweeping health care legislation that senators will begin considering
The AP notes: "Kennedy's long-term care plan is designed to help disabled people pay for support services that would allow them to remain in their own homes and avoid moving into nursing homes. People would enroll in the program during their working years and begin paying premiums. To collect benefits, a person would have had to pay premiums for at least five years. The benefit would be modest — not less than $50 a day — but it could be used to cover a wide range of services. Prospects for the long-term care provision are uncertain, but Kennedy's advocacy may sway other lawmakers. For Kennedy, who is being treated for brain cancer, health care legislation would be the crowning achievement of a long and productive career" (Alonso-Zaldivar, 6/10).
Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Sun reports that Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., stressed "the importance of talking honestly about the high cost of end-of-life care" during a Tuesday meeting with President Obama at the White House. She was "among Democrats from the House Ways and Means Committee invited to discuss health care as Congress begins to legislate President Barack Obama’s top priority this year. When it came her turn to speak, Berkley was not shy. 'I said, Mr. President, the way we deliver health care in this county is bass akwards,' Berkley recounted. 'We spend a large portion on end-of-life care. We don't invest enough on early detection and prevention of disease'"
Source: Kaiser Health News, http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Daily-Reports/2009/June/10/Long-Term-Care.aspx
Ed: You can bet the LTCI industry will be all over this...
Monday, June 8, 2009
Current projections indicate that there will be no Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in 2010, 2011, and 2012. Over the same period, total Medicare Part B program costs are expected to increase. Part B premiums, which are automatically deducted from Social Security checks, must cover 25% of projected Part B costs. The Social Security Act includes a provision that holds most Social Security beneficiaries harmless for increases in the Medicare Part B premium. Affected beneficiaries Part B premiums are reduced to ensure that their Social Security checks do not decline from one year to the next. In a typical year, the hold harmless provision affects a small fraction of beneficiaries and has a limited impact on program finances. However, in a scenario where Medicare Part B premiums increase but Social Security benefits do not, the effects of the hold harmless provision are larger and more complex. If there is no Social Security COLA, Medicare Part B premiums would be affected in two ways. For about three-quarters of Part B participants, the hold harmless provision would prevent their Part B premiums from increasing, and so their Social Security checks would remain flat. For the other one-quarter of beneficiaries, the hold harmless provision would not apply. These beneficiaries would shoulder the entire beneficiary share of the increase in Part B costs. In other words, their collective premium increase would be nearly four times greater than if there were no hold harmless provision. There are three groups of beneficiaries to whom the hold-harmless provision would not apply: low-income beneficiaries whose Part B premiums are paid by the Medicaid program (currently 17% to 18% of beneficiaries, expected to increase), high-income beneficiaries who are subject to income-related Part B premiums (about 5% of beneficiaries), and new enrollees (about 2% of beneficiaries). The substantial majority of those not held harmless are low income beneficiaries whose Part B premiums are paid by Medicaid. As a result, in the absence of any intervention by Congress, most of the cost of the increase in Part B premiums in 2010, 2011, and 2012 would be paid by the federal-state Medicaid program, not directly by beneficiaries. In the absence of a Social Security COLA, unless Part B premiums are increased substantially on those who are not held harmless, the Supplementary Medical Insurance trust fund, which finances Part B, is at risk of exhaustion.
Get it here: