Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Center for Medicare Advocacy calls for support for public plan option

Public Option: Just a Phone Call Away

Thanks again to Robert Reich for calling attention to the importance of a public plan option (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-reich/the-public-option-lives-o_b_302038.html) and the work of Charles Schumer (New York) and Jay Rockefeller (West Virginia) to make sure that real health care reform includes a public plan -- the only way to provide fair access to health care for all at a cost taxpayers can afford.

Today, Schumer and Rockefeller present their amendment to the reform bill that INCLUDES A PUBLIC PLAN OPTION. Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-reich/the-public-option-lives-o_b_302038.html.


Tom Carper (Delaware) - 202) 224-2441
Robert Menendez (New Jersey) - (202) 224-4744
Kent Conrad (North Dakota) - (202) 224-2043
Ben Nelson (Florida) - (202) 224-5274


Olympia Snowe (Maine) - (202) 224-5344

Remind them that a public option matters. You can say: 

I am calling to ask that you vote in favor of a public plan option. A public plan option is the key to reforming the health care system. It's the only way to provide secure coverage for all at a price taxpayers can afford. A public plan option will offer more coverage and cost less, period. Real change will improve access for everyone, support comprehensive care and foster healthy communities. Real change in health care reform must include a public plan. Vote in favor of a public plan option.

You can also use our advocacy form to write a letter to your elected officials at http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/777/t/9842/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=27244.

You can also Keep track of today's public plan conversation courtesy of live blogging on the NY Times Web site - http://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/29/live-blogging-senate-finance-committee-debate-on-public-option/?hp.

September 29, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Flu.gov webcast will outline steps for dealing with flu for elder advocates


Join U.S. Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee, Sandy Markwood, CEO, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), Jim Firman, President and CEO, National Council on Aging (NCOA) and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) for a special FLU.GOV WEBCAST FOR ORGANIZATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS WHO WORK WITH SENIORS.

DETAILS: Join us WEDNESDAY September 30th, from 1-2 PM (EDT) to learn more about how to prevent or reduce the spread of the flu with experts from the U.S. Administration on Aging, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Council on Aging, and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.    Hosted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the discussion will be webcast live on http://flu.gov/live


WHAT:          H1N1 Preparedness Webcast for the Aging Network

WHEN:          Wednesday September 30, 1-2 PM (EDT)

WHERE:        Live on No advance registration necessary


Flu.gov is your one-stop website for all the latest information about the flu and the new H1N1 flu virus from the CDC and other top scientists and doctors across the federal government. Use our marketing tools to spread the word about flu.gov to your seniors, friends and families and help them get the facts too.    

September 28, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Biden, Sebelius issue report on health reform and seniors

Vice President Biden, Secretary Sebelius Issue New Report on Seniors and Health Insurance Reform

Vice President Joe Biden and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today hosted a town hall meeting with seniors in Silver Spring, Md., and released a new report, Health Insurance Reform and Medicare: Making Medicare Stronger for America's Seniors. The report, authored by HHS, outlines how health insurance reform will help seniors and answers key questions about President Obama's health insurance reform plan. The complete report is available now at http://www.healthreform.gov.   The report highlights several problems in the current health care system and health insurance reform solutions such as:

Preserving and strengthening Medicare.

According to the Medicare Trustees 2009 report, the Medicare Part A Trust Fund will be exhausted by 2017. Health insurance reform will extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by an additional four to five years -- and delivery system reforms included in health insurance reform have the potential to keep the Trust Fund solvent even longer into the future. Health insurance reform will also reduce overpayments to private plans and will clamp down on fraud and abuse to strengthen Medicare for all seniors. Coupled with improvements in the quality of care, expansion of the health care workforce, and reductions in out-of-pocket costs, health insurance reform will ensure that Medicare will continue to provide the high-quality, affordable coverage that America's seniors deserve and expect.

*       Cutting high prescription drug costs.
Prescription drug costs represent a significant expense for seniors.
While Medicare added a prescription drug benefit, this benefit includes a coverage gap commonly called the "donut hole." In 2007, over 8 million seniors hit the "donut hole." For those who are not low-income or have not purchased other coverage, average drug costs in this coverage gap are $340 per month, or $4,080 per year. Health insurance reform will close the coverage gap in Medicare Part D over time, so seniors do not have to worry about losing coverage for their drug costs. While the closure of the coverage gap is phased in, health insurance reform will also provide seniors with a discount of 50 percent on their brand name medication costs in the coverage gap, saving thousands of dollars for some seniors.

*       Making preventive services free.
Many seniors do not receive recommended preventive and primary care, leading to less effective and more expensive treatments. For example, 20 percent of women aged 50 and over did not receive a mammogram in the past two years, and 38 percent of adults aged 50 and over have never had a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy. Seniors in Medicare must pay 20 percent of the cost of many preventive services on their own. For a colonoscopy that costs $700, this means that a senior must pay $140 -- a price that can be prohibitively expensive. Under health insurance reform, a senior would not pay anything for a screening colonoscopy or other preventive services. Reform will eliminate any deductibles, copayments, or other cost-sharing for obtaining preventive services, making them affordable and accessible.

*       Ending overpayments to private insurance companies that cost all Medicare beneficiaries.

The federal government pays private insurance companies on average 14 percent more for providing coverage to Medicare Advantage beneficiaries than it would pay for the same beneficiary in the traditional Medicare program. There is no evidence that this extra payment leads to better quality for Medicare beneficiaries, and all Medicare beneficiaries pay the price of these excessive overpayments through higher premiums -- even the 78 percent of seniors who are not enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. A typical couple in traditional Medicare will pay on average nearly $90 next year to subsidize private insurance companies that do not provide their Medicare benefits. Health insurance reform will eliminate excessive government subsidies to Medicare Advantage plans, which could save the federal government, taxpayers, and Medicare beneficiaries well over $100 billion over the next 10 years.

To learn more and read the complete report, visit www.HealthReform.gov.    

September 23, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Kaiser Health News article explains how health reform bill affects Medicare

CMS hosts listening session re Part D and Medicare Advantage open enrollment for 2010 plan year

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Invites you to the Listening Session to Learn About Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan Open Enrollment 2010

Thursday, September 24, 2009

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm, Eastern

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will discuss information about the 2010 plan offerings that every Medicare beneficiary will need to know when they begin to review their plan options during the upcoming Open Enrollment period November 15 through December 31. The call will include information you need to help beneficiaries learn about Medicare plan changes and how you can help them get plan options information. It is especially important that beneficiaries are informed of plan changes so that they can get Medicare coverage that best meets their needs.

To join the listening session you must complete registration online. There are a limited number telephone lines; therefore we encourage you to register as soon as possible.

Registration Website:    http://www.mscginc.com/cmsepo/ 


September 23, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hungary adoptes major revisions to adult guardianship laws

Courtesy the Mental Disability Advocacy Centre

Budapest, 22 September 2009. Members of the Hungarian Parliament voted for a new Civil Code yesterday evening. In doing so they ensured that Hungary becomes the first country in the world to reform its legal capacity legislation in line with its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).


Hungary's old Civil Code was the piece of legislation which regulated a range of civil law issues. In the area of disability it allowed for the total deprivation or partial restriction of a person's legal capacity and their placement under guardianship. There were no alternatives to guardianship for people who required assistance to make legally-binding choices in their lives. Approximately 80,000 adults in Hungary are under guardianship, two thirds of whom are legally prohibited from making important decisions. Under full guardianship people were denied the right to a range of civil and political rights such as the right to decide where to live, which meant that the majority of people in long-term residential institutions were placed there by their guardians, irrespective of the adult's wishes. The right to marry and found a family, as well as the right to manage one's own property, to work and to vote were also compromised.


The new Civil Code changes this legislative landscape. Highlights of the new legislation include:

  • A legislative ban on plenary guardianship.
  • The provision of a new form of partial guardianship: partial in terms of specific areas of decision-making, and partial in terms of decisions needing to be made jointly between the adult and the guardian.
  • Supported decision-making, which is an alternative to guardianship. Supported decision-making means that the adult's legal capacity remains intact. It enables a network of supporters to assist the adult in making their own decisions, thereby enhancing their self-determination.
  • Advance directives, whereby adults can plan for their future when cognitive difficulties may prevent them from making decisions without assistance.
  • All of the above measures are available to persons who need assistance because of their mental condition, intellectual capabilities or addiction.

This legislative reform marks significant progress towards Hungary's compliance with international human rights law, notably the CRPD, which is legally binding upon Hungary. MDAC has been working for the past two years in a coalition with other non-governmental organisations. The coalition has advocated intensively for guardianship reform and the introduction of alternatives, reminding the government of its obligations under the CRPD to include the involvement of persons with disabilities in legislative and policy reform. The coalition welcomes the legislative process leading to the adoption of a Civil Code that has realized the principle of "Nothing about us without us".


Whilst MDAC and ÉFOÉSZ congratulates Members of the Hungarian Parliament, they call on politicians to continue to bring Hungary in line with its obligations under the CRPD. Included in MDAC's and ÉFOÉSZ's wish-list of legislative and policy reform are:


  • Ensuring that the legal definition of disability is broadened to include persons with (or labelled with) psycho-social (mental health) disabilities (to fulfil the obligation in Article 1 CRPD).
  • Changing the Constitution to remove the prohibition on the right to vote for adults without full legal capacity (to fulfil the obligation in Article 29 CRPD).
  • Taking measurable steps to make real the right to live in the community by reducing the numbers of people in large residential institutions, and creating a range of services in community settings (to fulfil the obligation in Article 19 CRPD).
  • Removing from the quasi-governmental National Disability Council the responsibility for independent monitoring of the Convention's implementation, and giving the mandate to the Parliamentary Ombudsman with an increased funding to match the expanded mandate (to fulfil the obligation in Article 33(2) CRPD).
  • Ensuring that a Government minister oversees a "focal point" to coordinate disability policy across Government departments (to fulfil the obligation in Article 33(1) CRPD).

More information


For interviews please contact Gábor Gombos, MDAC Senior Advocacy Officer, tel. +361 413 2730, mdac@mdac.info.


September 22, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 21, 2009

British High Court rejects claim that aid-in-dying is a basic human right

A British woman has lost her battle in the High Court, where she had sought clarification in the law on assisted suicide.  Debbie Purdy, 45, who has multiple sclerosis, wanted a guarantee from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that her husband Omar Puente would not be prosecuted for murder if he assisted her death in a Swiss euthanasia clinic.  The High Court merely followed the ruling in the House of Lords and European Court of Human Rights in the case of Diane Pretty in 2001.  Mrs Pretty, who had motor neurone disease, had been refused by the DPP to grant her husband immunity from prosecution if he assisted her suicide.  Both Diane Pretty and Debbie Purdy went to the courts because they suffered from incurable illnesses and both wished to end their life prematurely so as to avoid the inevitable pain and indignity they would have to bear in the final stages of their condition.The problem in the Pretty and Purdy cases rested on the fact that both women were mentally competent, and that their physical disabilities prevented their ending their own lives.  In both cases, their husbands were prepared to assist their suicide provided they received an undertaking from the DPP that they would not be prosecuted for 'assisted suicide' or murder under section 2 of the Suicide Act of 1961.

Both Diane Pretty and Debbie Purdy challenged the 1961 Act, by arguing that the law infringed their human rights, namely Articles 3 'freedom from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment' and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) - such as an individual's right to privacy.In Diane Pretty's case, the Human Rights Court in Strasbourg ruled in April 2002 that it could not be plausibly suggested that the DPP was inflicting prohibited treatment on the appellant, whose suffering derived from her cruel disease.'  The Strasbourg court equally ruled that Article 8 ECHR had not been infringed and that there was nothing to suggest that there was any reference to the choice to live no longer.

Source/more:  BBC, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7698636.stm

September 21, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Report says more that 35 million have dementia worldwide

More than 35 million people around the world are living with Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia, says the most in-depth attempt yet to assess the brain-destroying illness — and it's an ominous forecast as the population grays.  The new count is about 10 percent higher than what scientists had predicted just a few years ago, because earlier research underestimated Alzheimer's growing impact in developing countries.  Barring a medical breakthrough, the World Alzheimer Report projects dementia will nearly double every 20 years. By 2050, it will affect a staggering 115.4 million people, the report concludes  "We are facing an emergency," said Dr. Daisy Acosta, who heads Alzheimer's Disease International, which released the report Monday.

The U.S. and other developed countries long have been bracing for Alzheimer's to skyrocket. But the report aims to raise awareness of the threat in poorer countries, where finally people are living long enough to face what is mostly a disease of the 65-and-older population.  While age is the biggest driver of Alzheimer's, some of the same factors that trigger heart disease — obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes —seem to increase the risk of dementia, too. Those are problems also on the rise in many developing countries.In poorer countries, "dementia is a hidden issue," Acosta said, and that's complicating efforts to improve earlier diagnosis. "You're not supposed to talk about it."

Source/more:  Associated Press, http://www.ahiphiwire.org/Clinical/News/Default.aspx?doc_id=406096&utm_source=9/21/2009&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=HiWire_Newsletter

September 21, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Upcoming conferences on aging issues

October 2009

2009 National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) Annual Conference
October 6-7, 2009
Washington, DC

November 2009

Gerontological Society of America
November 18-22
Atlanta, GA

December 2009

International Council on Active Aging Conference
December 2-5
Orlando, FL

September 21, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Guest blogger Adrienne Carlson on "What Doctors Need to Know When Treating the Elderly"

What Doctors Must Know When Treating the Elderly
It’s not something that we want to think of consciously, but then, we must accept that growing old is a fact of life and that all of us will get there someday. When we become old, one of the things we must deal with is others’ perception of us and the way they treat us. To society as a whole, the elderly have outlived their usefulness and are now just killing time until they pass away. This issue has raised a storm through the healthcare reforms that President Obama is proposing – the elderly are encouraged not to seek medical treatment that is going to only prolong their life for an uncertain period of time, with or without improving its quality, but which costs the state’s exchequer a large amount of money.
Yes, Obama went so far as to criticize his own grandmother’s hip replacement surgery, the one she underwent a month or so after being diagnosed with a terminal disease. He felt it was unnecessary, even though living with the broken hip would mean constant pain and suffering and dependence on painkillers for the rest of her life. So if we were to look through the eyes of the elderly, how would we want doctors to treat us? When dealing with senior citizens, here’s what doctors must know:

  • They may be on various medications: Before doctors treat the elderly, they must determine what medicines they’re on when they prescribe new ones. Some medicines cause adverse reactions when mixed with others. They cannot depend on the patient to tell them of all the medication that they’re taking, so it’s best to either consult a loved one or talk to their previous doctor.    
  • They need to be monitored: Senior citizens end up paying more for healthcare because they forget or fail to take care of themselves. They sometimes don’t take their medicines as prescribed and they’re prone to accidents. So they need to be monitored regularly if they are to avoid hospitalization.    
  • They may not be able to follow doctors’ advice: Most doctors advise the elderly to stay active, take small walks every day, and look after their own needs. But because of unbearable pain due to arthritis or other ailments and infirmity due to old age, they may find it difficult to remain active. Doctors must allow them some leeway and instead prescribe pain medication that makes their lives easier.    
  • They may need to sign a waiver: Because of patient confidentiality laws, doctors are sometimes prevented from discussing the condition and future care of elderly patients with their loved ones. They need to tell their patients about the waiver that they could sign to give relatives and children control over their medical records and further treatments. This allows the family to keep tabs on their loved one’s health and take decisions on treatment options.    

This guest article was written by Adrienne Carlson, who regularly writes on the topic of nurse practitioner schools, see [http://nursepractitionerschools.org/ . Adrienne welcomes your comments and questions at her email address: adrienne.carlson1@gmail.com

September 15, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Academy of Special Needs Planners hosts annual Attorneys Sharing Knowledge event Oct. 17


One-Day Event for Attorneys Will Feature Instruction from National Experts on Drafting Special Needs Trusts
 The Academy of Special Needs Planners the largest membership organization for attorneys providing services to people with special needs and their families, will hold its annual Attorneys Sharing Knowledge event on October 17, 2009 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The event, which will directly follow the Stetson Special Needs Trust National Convention, will focus on drafting special needs trusts and provide a forum to recap the Stetson Convention. Members of ASNP, as well as non-member attorneys, are invited to attend ASK 2009.

  The Academy of Special Needs Planners
    ASK 2009
     Don Cesar Beach Resort
3400 Gulf Blvd.
                           St. Pete Beach, Florida 33706
                           (727) 360-1881
WHEN :            October 17, 2009; 7:45 a.m. – Noon
REGISTER:    http://www.specialneedsplanners.com/ASK2009/registration.asp

ASK 2009 will consists of two sessions. The first, a drafting workshop focusing on special needs trusts, will provide attorneys with information about the critical elements and mechanisms required to accommodate the infinite variations of their clients’ needs. The session will feature three one-hour presentations by nationally recognized special needs planners who will share their own methods and tips for drafting quality, lasting documents.

The second session will be a moderated panel discussion focused on the most important takeaways from the Stetson Conference, while it is still fresh in the minds of attendees. ASK 2009 attendees will be invited to actively participate in both the panel discussion and drafting workshop.

“ASK 2009 provides attorneys with top-quality instruction from nationally recognized special needs planners in an intimate setting in which to openly discuss hot topics and critical issues surrounding special needs planning,” said Vincent Russo, co-founder of ASNP. “We encourage our members to attend and welcome all newcomers to spend a morning with us, to learn and share with other professionals in the field. It is through our cooperative efforts at ASK 2009 that we will be able to perfect a key skill for all special needs planners, drafting special needs trusts, and ultimately enhance our client services.”

The event registration fee is $95 for ASNP members and $199 for non-members. To register online, please visit http://www.specialneedsplanners.com/ASK2009/registration.asp.

Learn more on the ASK Event Page of the ASNP website. 

September 15, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The National Debt: Just the facts, ma'am


Source: http://zfacts.com/p/318.html

September 13, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Guest blogger Hannah Watson on "Five Things to Consider When Building an Estate Plan After a Second Marriage"

Five Things to Consider When Building an Estate Plan After a Second Marriage

Getting remarried can be a joyous event, but it can also make estate planning decidedly more complicated. Brining more people into your life can make it much richer and happier, but it also means that your assets will be divided between more beneficiaries and that’s where things can get pretty dicey, especially if you add new children into the mix. Here are some things you should consider when revising your estate plan to take into account the newest members of your family.

1.    Alert your family as to your plan. Don’t let your children from a former marriage be surprised by any changes you make to your estate plan when you get remarried. Upon your death it may cause a great deal of ill-will between your surviving relatives and may even result in lawsuits, so lay out your plans ahead of time so all your beneficiaries will have time to come to terms with what you plan to do with your assets.    
2.    Talk to your spouse. There will be major issues that you will need to work out with your new spouse in order to make sure things will go smoothly and he or she will be able to live comfortably should something happen to you. You should also make sure of your spouse’s intentions with your estate to ensure that there are things set aside for any children of previous relationships.    
3.    Consider a trust. More and more trusts are becoming the most logical and fair ways to divide up assets in blended families. It can often be an easier way to ensure that money is set aside for children as well as for the surviving spouse, without any confusing upon your passing.    
4.    Figure out your goals. Every family is different. You may not want to leave any money to your children and instead give it all to charity. This is something that you and your spouse need to work out and discuss with all of your children. You want to be able to meet your own goals, after all, without making your children upset that you’ve left them out or failed to plan for them.    
5.    Talk to a professional. Because blending families makes estate planning much more complicated in many instances you may want to talk to someone who knows all the ins and outs of it all and can give you professional and reliable advice on dealing with your assets. It may cost more up front, but it can make a big difference in the long run for family members.    

This post was contributed by Hannah Watson, who writes for Online Courses.org.   She welcomes your feedback at HannahWatson84@ yahoo.com

September 13, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

News from the National Senior Citizens Law Center

Details about these stories are available at the NSCLC website, http://www.nsclc.org

Social Security Administration to Pay $500 Million in Settlement, Stops Unlawful Social Security Suspensions

The Social Security Administration has agreed to repay more than $500 million in benefits that were unlawfully withheld from 80,000 people whose benefits have been suspended or denied since January 1, 2007. If approved by the court, people whose benefits were suspended or denied between 2000 and 2006 also will be notified and given a chance to re-establish eligibility.  All told, more than 200,000 people may benefit from the settlement.  Read more

--Important Information for Advocates Working with Social Security and Supplemental Security Income Recipients:  Your clients stand to benefit immensely from the Martinez settlement.  If approved by the court, approximately 80,000 beneficiaries are eligible for over $500 million in withheld benefits. Please help us get the word out and be on the lookout for potential class members. Read our special alert for advocates

Learn more about the Martinez settlement  |  To sign up to receive updates on the Martinez settlement, contact: Nancy Arévalo | For more information, contact: Gerald McIntyre


Older People with Disabilities Sue, Win Preliminary Injunction to Halt Adult Day Health Care Cuts

On August 18, 2009 several elderly plaintiffs with disabilities filed a class action lawsuit, Brantley, et al. v. Maxwell-Jolly, Director of California Department of Health Care Services, to stop devastating budget-related cuts in Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) services. On September 10, 2009 the presiding judge in the case issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the State from implementing the cuts until appropriate alternative services are provided to prevent inappropriate institutionalization.  ADHC provides daytime health and nursing care, therapies and other services to low-income seniors and people with disabilities.  The cuts, if implemented, would place as many as 8,000 recipients at immediate risk of institutionalization, hospitalization, injury or death. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in the Northern District of California, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and federal Medicaid law.  The plaintiffs are represented by Disability Rights California, the National Senior Citizens Law Center, AARP Foundation Litigation, and the National Health Law Program.  Learn more about the ADHC case | For more information, contact: Anna Rich

NSCLC Comments on HCBS Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

NSCLC submitted comments to CMS on the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking relating to Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS) waivers. NSCLC’s comments call for federal standards, rather than policy guidelines, to assure that HCBS services truly are provided in a home-like setting, and that residents receive adequate care. For more information, contact: Eric Carlson or Gene Coffey

GAO Faults Lack of Agencywide Translation Policy for Medicare Documents

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently issued a report, “Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services: CMS Should Develop an Agencywide Policy for Translating Medicare Documents into Languages Other Than English,”  which found that CMS does not have a uniform policy about translation of Medicare documents and that translation decisions are at the discretion of different CMS components. In order to achieve goals of consistency and transparency, GAO recommended that CMS develop a written policy that includes criteria for translation decisions and apply the policy across the agency. NSCLC provided input to the report’s authors and has been active in urging CMS to undertake more translations of its own documents and also to require more translations by health plans and other providers of documents they produce. Read the GAO report | For more information, contact: Georgia Burke

Fewer Low Income Medicare Beneficiaries Will Need to Change Part D Prescription Drug Plans in 2010

To hold down the numbers of low income Medicare beneficiaries who will need to change their Part D prescription drug plans because of premium increases, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) adopted new calculation methods for determining "benchmarks" premiums.  With the new methodology, CMS predicts that approximately 800,000 beneficiaries will need to change plans if they wish to have the full benefit of the low income subsidy (LIS). This number represents about half of the beneficiaries that CMS expected would have been affected if CMS had not changed the benchmark calculation methods for the 2010 plan year.  The CMS action responds in part to concerns raised by advocates, including NSCLC, about program instability for low income beneficiaries. For more information, contact: Kevin Prindiville

Articles and Publications

How the Sotomayor Saga Could Help Progressives Take Back the Courts

As Supreme Court experts rarely fail to point out, Sonia Sotomayor's accession to the Supreme Court this week will do little to shift future outcomes in hot button cases, because she will likely vote as did her predecessor, center-left Justice David Souter. Nevertheless, the confirmation ritual she has just completed could ultimately turn out to be a substantial plus for progressives. Her performance, and even more, statements by senators, especially Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy, could reposition progressives on and off the Court with a new vision that spotlights the Roberts Court's appetite for judicial supremacy and reactionary outcomes -- "unabashed law-making," as Justice John Paul Stevens recently put it. This article originally was published in the American Prospect. Read the article | For more information, contact: Simon Lazarus

Long-Term Care Law Reporter

The latest issue of NSCLC’s bimonthly publication on long-term care includes several articles of interest to advocates:

--New Mexico Appellate Court Overturns $53 Million Verdict Against Nursing Facility Corporation

--Protection and Advocacy Agency Not Allowed to Obtain Mental Health Records from State

--Thirty State Attorneys General Request Suspension of Federal Five-Star Rating System for Nursing Facilities; CMS Responds By Defending System

--Courts Address Nursing Facility Arbitrations When Arbitration Service Refuses to Serve Under Pre-Dispute Arbitration Agreements

September 12, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

CRS publishes annual update on pension sponsorship, participation, and trends

Pension Sponsorship and Participation: Summary of Recent Trends
September 11, 2009

Download Locations


According to the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey (CPS), the number of private-sector workers between the ages of 25 and 64 whose employer sponsored a retirement plan fell from 53.5 million in 2007 to 52.3 million in 2008. The number of private-sector workers who participated in employer-sponsored retirement plans fell from 44.1 million in 2007 to 42.9 million in 2008. The proportion of all 25 to 64 year-old workers in the private sector, whether employed full time or part-time, who participated in employer-sponsored retirement plans decreased from 45.1% in 2007 to 43.6% in 2008. Between 2000 and 2008, the number of private-sector workers between the ages of 25 and 64 who participated in employer-sponsored retirement plans fell by 3.2 million, declining from 46.1 million to 42.9 million. The percentage of workers who participated in employer-sponsored retirement plans fell from 50.3% in 2000 to 43.6% in 2008. A CRS analysis of the CPS indicates that, among private-sector workers aged 25 to 64 who were employed year-round, full-time: • The percentage of workers whose employer sponsored a retirement plan was 59.9% in 2007 and 59.0% in 2008. • The percentage of workers who participated in employer-sponsored retirement plans was 52.0% in 2007 and 51.1% in 2008. • Only 25.8% of workers at firms with fewer than 25 employees participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan in 2008, compared to 45.9% of workers at firms with 25 to 99 employees and 63.6% at firms with 100 or more employees. • Among those who were employed year-round, full-time, 51.2% of men and 51.0% of women participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan in 2008. • Only 43.3% of private-sector workers aged 25 to 34 and employed year-round, full-time participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan in 2008, compared to 50.9% of workers aged 35 to 44, 55.4% of those aged 45 to 54, and 56.6% of those aged 55 to 64. • Black, Hispanic, and other non-white workers were less likely to have participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan than white, non-Hispanic workers. Fifty-seven percent of white workers participated in an employer- sponsored retirement plan in 2008, compared to 45.6% of black non-Hispanic workers, 30.3% of Hispanic workers, and 47.9% of other non-white workers (mainly Asian-American and Native American workers). • Only 27.7% of workers whose annual earnings were in the lowest quartile in 2008 (under $28,000) participated in a retirement plan at work, compared to 68.6% of workers whose earnings were in the top quartile (above $65,000). The CPS Œ a survey of households Œ shows fewer private-sector workers participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans than are reported by the National Compensation Survey (NCS), which is a survey of business establishments. According to the CPS, the proportion of private-sector workers aged 25 to 64 who participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan of some kind fell from 45.0% in 2005 to 43.6% in 2008. In contrast, NCS data indicate that 50% of workers in the private sector participated in employer-sponsored retirement plans in 2005 and 51% of private-sector workers participated in employer-sponsored retirement plans in 2008.

September 12, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

GAO study says SSA could work harder to reduced disability claim backlogs

(SSA) has experienced processing delays and significant backlogs of disability claims at the hearings level. In May 2007, SSA began implementing a plan for eliminating the hearings backlog entitled Summary of Initiatives to Eliminate the SSA Hearings Backlog (the Plan). In response to a congressional request, GAO (1) examined the Plan’s potential to eliminate the hearings-level backlog, (2) determined the extent to which the Plan included components of sound planning, and (3) identified potential unintended effects of the Plan on hearings-level operations and other aspects of the disability process. To address these objectives, GAO analyzed SSA data, conducted a risk analysis, assessed the Plan and its update—the May 2009 Draft Appomattox Plan—using planning criteria identified in previous GAO work, interviewed SSA officials, and conducted site visits in three SSA regions.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that SSA develop additional performance measures and cost estimates for its critical initiatives, as well as conduct an analysis of risks associated with Plan implementation and identify steps to address them. SSA said that it has taken or has planned actions to develop performance measures as appropriate. SSA disagreed that it should develop further cost estimates, but agreed it should conduct risk analyses and outlined steps it is taking to do so.

Read the report:  http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d09398.pdf

September 12, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Widener Call for Papers: Health Law and the Elderly: Managing Risk at the End of Life

Symposium and Call for Papers -- Health Law and the Elderly:
Managing Risk at the End of Life

The Widener Law Review, in partnership with the Widener University School of Law Health Law Institute, Delaware Hospice, the Delaware End-of-Life Coalition, and others, announces its Symposium titled Health Law and the Elderly: Managing Risk at the End of Life, to be held from 8:15 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 26, 2010, in the Ruby Vale   Courtroom on Widener’s Wilmington, Delaware campus.

The symposium will be of interest and value to: elder law attorneys, health law attorneys, physicians, hospital administrators, hospital ethics committee members, nurses, social workers, other health professionals, health policy organizations and individuals, and academics involved in these disciplines.  Delaware and Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits (including ethics) will be available.   Symposium organizers are also applying for continuing education units (CEU, CME) in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey for a variety of disciplines including medicine, nursing, and social work.

The coordinators invite proposals for papers, panels, and presentations on developments concerning issues on or closely related to: advance care planning, POLST, drug laws with regard to palliative care, hospice coverage under Medicare, hospice fraud & abuse, capacity and guardianships, and assistance in dying.

One-page abstracts must be received by September 30, 2009.  To submit an abstract or project description for consideration, please email a Word or PDF attachment to wlrsymposium2010@gmail.com.  All proposals should include the author’s name, title, institutional affiliation and contact information.  Authors are also welcome, but not required, to
submit a CV.  By October 15, 2009, proposals will be selected both for presentation and (separately) for publication in the law review.  For presenters, both reasonable travel expenses and an honorarium will be provided.  

For further information, visit the Symposium website:
http://widenerlawreview.org/?page_id=329 or

Or contact Prof. Thaddeus Pope, tmpope@widener.edu

September 9, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

ASA calls for proposals for graduate student research award

Recognizing Excellence in the Field of Aging

ASA's 2010 Graduate Student Research Award

Endowed by the AARP Andrus Foundation

Call for Nominations
Deadline for Submissions: October 15, 2009

The American Society on Aging is accepting applications for its annual award for graduate research projects in the field of aging. The award is given for the best research paper on a completed project.

The ASA Graduate Student Research Award is presented annually to a graduate student for research relevant to aging and applicable to practice.

Complete information is available at http://www.asaging.org/asav2/awards/description_grad.cfm?submenu1=grad

September 8, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

TOC: Caregiver Policy Digest


State Legislation, Policy & Reports
  1. Pennsylvania: Group Establishes Principles for LTC Policies  More...
  2. Vermont: Advocates Want Changes to Choices for Care Program  More...

Federal Legislation, Policy & Reports
  1. Medicare Transitional Care Act Would Assist Caregivers  More...
  2. National Alzheimer's Project Act Introduced in Senate  More...
  3. Report Examines Policy Options for Long-Term Care in Health Care Reform  More...

International News
  1. Australia: "Ethics of Caring in a Good Society"  More...
  2. Canada: Report on Government's Progress in Long-Term Care  More...

Research Reports & Journal Articles
  1. Generations Issue Focuses on Dementia, Caregiving  More...
  2. Results of a Diabetes Caregiver Study  More...

Conferences & Trainings
  1. RCI's National Summit and Training Institute October 21-23  More...
  2. Call for Abstracts for the 5th International Carers Conference  More...

Funding, Media & Miscellaneous
  1. Updated Evidence Database to Support Research in Aging  More...
  2. "$500 Million Settlement Reached in Suspension of Social Security Benefits"  More...

September 8, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 4, 2009

ACR offers free teleconference on elder mediation

The Association for Conflict Resolution will offer a FREE teleconference titled “Elder Mediation Today: A Conversation with the Contributors to ACResolution Summer 2009 Issue.” The call will take place on Wednesday, September 16 at 3:00 pm EST.

Participants will include Devon Coughlan, Karen Largent, Kathryn Mariani, Alice Rudnick and William Senft. Each was a contributing author to the Summer issue. The teleconference will be moderated by Elder Decision-Making and Conflict Resolution Section tri-chair Arline Kardasis.

 To participate, ACR members can call 1-518-825-1400 and enter code 642916. Please note that this is not a toll free number. You will be billed for the call by your long distance carrier at the normal long distance rates that apply to your usual long distance calling.

 As all participants will be asked to mute their line during the teleseminar, we are encouraging you to submit questions in advance by e-mail to arline@ElderDecisions.com. You may also send in questions and comments by email during the call and to be included as time permits.


September 4, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)