Friday, October 30, 2009

WalMart what?

The world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart, now plans to hold on to customers even after they die - by selling coffins.  Prices range from a "Mom" or "Dad Remembered" steel coffin for $895 (£540), to a bronze model at $2,899.  The retailer is allowing customers to plan ahead by paying for the caskets over 12 months for no interest. They can be dispatched within 48 hours.    A spokesman for the supermarket giant, Ravi Jariwala, said the new coffin range was "a limited beta test to understand customer response".  The retailer is offering caskets at prices that undercut many funeral homes, say correspondents.  But an industry spokesman said it was not unduly concerned about Wal-Mart's move, because he said the firm could not offer bereaved families the human touch.

Source:  BBC,

Costco was just so wrong!!!

October 30, 2009 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chicago Tribune exposes abuse of psychotropic drugs in IL nursing homes

Courtesy Paul Nidich,

Illinois nursing home patients often receive psychotropic drugs without cause, which poses various health dangers and even death, the Chicago Tribune reports as part of its Compromised Care series. "Frail and vulnerable residents of nursing homes throughout Illinois are being dosed with powerful psychotropic drugs, leading to tremors, dangerous lethargy and a higher risk of harmful falls or even death, a Tribune investigation has found. Thousands of elderly and disabled people have been affected, many of them drugged without their consent or without a legitimate psychiatric diagnosis that would justify treatment, state and federal inspection reports show."

The Tribune identified about 1,200 such violations at Illinois nursing homes since 2001. The newspaper's "unprecedented review of more than 40,000 state and federal inspection reports found that nursing homes ranging from 'five-star' establishments on the North Shore to run-down facilities in urban neighborhoods have been cited for improperly administering psychotropic drugs." 

According to the story, the "findings come at a difficult time for Illinois nursing homes, which are already under fire for housing violent felons alongside geriatric patients and for failing to accurately assess the risk posed by the most serious offenders. ... The misuse of psychotropics, which some experts say is a nationwide problem in nursing homes, suggests a troubling future for many seniors. ... In testimony before Congress two years ago, Food and Drug Administration scientist Dr. David Graham estimated that thousands of nursing home residents die each year because antipsychotic drugs are administered to patients who are not mentally ill" (Roe, 10/27).

In a separate piece, the Chicago Tribune reports on one such senior's death. "Just eight hours after he moved into the nursing home, state inspection records show, Lloyd Berkley was approached by four employees, one of whom had a needle behind her back. While three of them held down the 74-year-old man, the fourth injected him with a high amount of the antipsychotic drug Haldol, which quickly sedated him, according to state records." But hours later, the man fell and injured his head. He died at a hospital. "The worker with the needle, investigators discovered, was not licensed as a nurse and did not have a doctor's order to give the man the medication. Berkley's death offers a dramatic example of a common problem in nursing homes: heavily drugged residents falling and suffering injuries — or worse" (Roe and Leonhardt, 10/27).

Chicago Tribune via Kaiser Health News,

October 29, 2009 in Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Evidence Database to Support Aging Research

The New York Academy of Medicine's Social Work Leadership Institute has released a new evidence database to support aging research. This is an easy-to-use online database to help scholars, policy analysts, and advocates stay on top of the latest research and innovations in aging care, including health care, social services, and workforce issues.
The Evidence Database is regularly updated by a professional staff of contributors that filters, reviews, and catalogues articles published in professional journals both in the U.S. and abroad. An advisory committee of experts in gerontology, social work research, and database methods provides consultation and assistance in the selection of topics for inclusion in the database.  To view this database, visit:

October 28, 2009 in Statistics | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

HHS to fund National Resource Center for LGBT Elders

HHS to Create a National Resource Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and
Transgender Elders Yesterday HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced plans to
establish the nation's first national resource center to assist communities across
the country in their efforts to provide services and supports for older lesbian,
gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals.

The Administration on Aging will award a single Resource Center grant at
approximately $250,000 per year, pending availability of funds. Eligible entities
will include public-private nonprofit organizations with experience working on
LGBT issues on a national level.  The funding announcement for the Resource Center
will be made available on the following website very soon.


October 22, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Veterans Day is Nov. 11--here is some info about our nation's veterans population

Veterans Day 2009: Nov. 11

Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation in 1954 to change the name to Veterans Day as a way to honor those who served in all American wars. The day honors living military veterans with parades and speeches across the nation. A national ceremony takes place at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

23.2 million
The number of military veterans in the United States in 2008. Source: Table 508, Upcoming Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2010

Female Veterans

1.8 million
The number of female veterans in 2008. Source: Table 508, Upcoming Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2010

Race and Hispanic Origin

2.3 million
The number of black veterans in 2008. Additionally, 1.1 million veterans were Hispanic; 276,000 were Asian; 160,000 were American Indian or Alaska Native; 27,000 were Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander; and 18.3 million were non-Hispanic white. (The numbers for blacks, Asians, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, and non-Hispanic whites cover only those reporting a single race.) Source: 2008 American Community Survey

When They Served

9.2 million
The number of veterans 65 and older in 2008. At the other end of the age spectrum, 1.9 million were younger than 35.
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, unpublished data

7.8 million
Number of Vietnam-era veterans in 2008. Thirty-three percent of all living veterans served during this time (1964-1975). In addition, 5.2 million served during the Gulf War (representing service from Aug. 2, 1990, to present); 2.6 million in World War II (1941-1945); 2.8 million in the Korean War (1950-1953); and 6 million in peacetime. Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, unpublished data

Number of living veterans in 2008 who served during the Vietnam Era and both Gulf War eras.

Other living veterans in 2008 who served during three wars:

  • 92,000 served during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam Era.

Living veterans in 2008 who served during two wars:

  • 740,000 served during both Gulf War eras.
  • 245,000 served during both the Korean War and the Vietnam Era.
  • 182,000 served during both World War II and the Korean War.
Source: 2008 American Community Survey

Where They Live

Number of states with 1 million or more veterans in 2008. These states were California (2.1 million), Florida (1.7 million), Texas (1.7 million), New York (1 million) and Pennsylvania (1 million). Source: Table 508, Upcoming Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2010


Percent of veterans 25 and older with at least a bachelor’s degree in 2008. Source: 2008 American Community Survey

Percent of veterans 25 and older with a high school diploma or higher in 2008. Source: 2008 American Community Survey


Annual median income of veterans, in 2008 inflation-adjusted dollars. Source: 2008 American Community Survey

On the Job

10.4 million
Number of veterans 18 to 64 in the labor force in 2008. Source: 2008 American Community Survey


5.5 million
Number of veterans with any type of disability in 2008. Source: 2008 American Community Survey

Service-Connected Disability Ratings

3.4 million
Number of veterans with a service-connected disability rating. Of this number, 588,000 have a rating of 70 percent or higher.
Source: 2008 American Community Survey


15.8 million
Number of veterans who voted in the 2008 presidential election. Seventy-one percent of veterans cast a ballot, compared with 63 percent of nonveterans. Source: Voting and Registration in the Election of November 2008

Business Owners

Percentage of owners of firms responding to the 2002 Survey of Business Owners who were veterans. Veteran business owners comprised an estimated 3 million of the 20.5 million owners represented by survey respondents.
Source: Characteristics of Veteran-Owned Businesses: 2002

Percentage of veteran owners of respondent firms who were 55 and older. This compares with 31 percent of all owners of respondent firms. Similarly, in 2002, 55 percent of veteran-owned respondent firms with employees reported that their businesses were originally established, purchased or acquired before 1990, compared with 36 percent of all employer respondent firms.
Source: Characteristics Veteran-Owned Businesses: 2002 and Characteristics of Veteran Business Owners: 2002

Percentage of veteran business owners of respondent firms who were disabled as the result of injury incurred or aggravated during active military service. Source: Characteristics of Veteran-Owned Businesses: 2002 and Characteristics of Veteran Business Owners: 2002


2.9 million
Number of veterans who received compensation for service-connected disabilities as of 2008. Their compensation totaled $36.2 billion.
Source: Tables 511 and 512, Upcoming Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2010

$84.4 billion
Total amount of federal government spending for veterans benefits programs in fiscal year 2008. Of this total, $40.2 billion went to compensation and pensions, $37.9 billion for medical programs and the remainder to other programs, such as vocational rehabilitation and education.
Source: Table 511, Upcoming Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2010 <>

October 19, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Loyola-Chicago to host Third Annual Beazley Symposium on Access to Health Care Nov. 6

Third Annual Beazley Symposium on Access to Health Care:  Health Care Disparities:  Effectiveness, Rationing and the Road to the Future

Friday, November 6, 8:15 a.m.-2:45 p.m.
Power Rogers & Smith Ceremonial Courtroom
10th Floor, Philip H. Corboy Law Center, 25 E. Pearson Street, Chicago 
This program has been approved by the Illinois MCLE Board for 4.5 hours of credit.

To register for this exciting program visit our website

For a complete listing of events, visit our News & Events page.

October 16, 2009 in Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

NAELA request input on spring 2010 Annual Meeting

The 2010 NAELA Annual Meeting committee is soliciting topics that cover the overall theme of “Planning in Times of Uncertainty”.  We are looking for topics specific to the different  areas of Elder and Special Needs Law that pertain to your Section/Chapter, such as (Financial, Tax Law Changes, Health Reform,  the rumored decline of Elder Law, Medicaid Planning now and the future of Medicaid Planning, how the changes offer opportunities for practice expansion.  Please email Casey Anderson [email protected] your feedback and suggestions by October 22nd, 2009

October 16, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Schuck to deliver Baum Memorial Lecture at University of Illinois

The Elder Law Journal at the University of Illinois takes great pleasure in announcing that the 2009-10 Ann F. Baum Memorial Elder Law Lecture will be presented on Monday, October 19 by Peter H. Schuck, the Simeon E. Baldwin Professor of Law at Yale Law School.   The Lecture is entitled “The Golden Age of Aging -- and Its Discontents" and will analyze the impending fiscal crisis in Medicare. Included will be the following topics: (1) the need to improve targeting in social programs like Medicare, (2) the hard choices that must be made to meet the health care crisis, (3) inter-generational equity considerations, and (4) policy implications of the analysis.

Professor Schuck is the co-author (with Richard Zeckhauser of Harvard) of Targeting in Social Programs: Avoiding Bad Bets, Removing Bad Apples (Brookings Press 2006), which received honorable mention for the Charles Levine Prize for best book in Comparative Policy and Administration. His other recent books include Meditations of a Militant Moderate: Cool Views on Hot Topics; Diversity in America: Keeping Government at a Safe Distance; and The Limits of Law: Essays on Democratic Governance. He is also the co-editor (with James Q. Wilson) of Understanding America: The Anatomy of an Exceptional Nation (2008); co-editor (with David Martin) of Immigration Stories; and editor of Foundations of Administrative Law. He is also a contributing editor to The American Lawyer. Prior to joining Yale in 1979, he was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, and a Visiting Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. He also practiced public interest law for six years in Washington, D.C. with the Consumers Union and the Center for Study of Responsive Law.Professor Schuck holds a B.A. from Cornell, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, an LL.M. in International Law from N.Y.U., and an M.A. in Government from Harvard.

The lecture will be held in the Max Rowe Auditorium of the College of Law, beginning at 12:30 P.M., with a reception to follow in the Peer and Sarah Pedersen Pavilion immediately after the lecture.

October 16, 2009 in Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Remarks by Marcia Greenberger on health insurance disparities for women

Remarks by Marcia Greenberger, co-Founder of the National Women's Law Center, on the unfair insurance industry practices that treat being a woman like a "pre-existing condition."

Marcia is delivering these remarks today at a congressional hearing. Next week, the NWLC is releasing updated findings and unveiling a new national campaign to educate women about the disparities they face in obtaining health care, and rallying them to contact their Congressional representatives to demand health care reform that works for women.


Madame Chairwoman and members of the HELP Committee, thank you for this opportunity to testify on behalf of the National Women’s Law Center.  The Center has long advocated for national health reform that meets women’s needs, and we are all too familiar with the challenges that characterize women’s everyday experiences in the current health system. Among the most damaging of these obstacles are the unfair and discriminatory practices of the health insurance industry, including gender rating, the exclusion of health care services that only women need, and pre-existing condition denials.

In 2008, the Center studied women’s experiences in the individual health insurance market, where people buy coverage directly from insurance companies. We found that the individual insurance market can be an exceedingly difficult place and sometimes even an impossible place for women to find health coverage that meets their needs. Since then, we’ve found that even women who obtain group health insurance through their employer or through an association health plan are adversely affected by some of the same harmful practices that impede access to affordable coverage in the individual market.  Across health insurance markets, discriminatory industry practices put fair and affordable coverage out of reach for far too many women.

Our research included an extensive analysis of gender rating, the practice under which insurers charge men and women different premiums for coverage. We found that in the individual insurance market, women can pay dearly because of this rampant practice. At age 25, for instance, women are charged as much as 45% more than men for coverage, and at age 40 they are charged as much as 48% more than men.  Even with maternity care excluded, the variations in the differentials totally undermine any claim that these differences are actuarially driven.  

For instance, we found that the best-selling health plans in Phoenix, Arizona charged a 40-year-old woman anywhere from 2% to 51% more than a 40-year-old man for identical coverage. In Lincoln, Nebraska a woman of that age was charged anywhere between 11% and 60% more than a man.

Gender rating is not just a problem of the individual market, it also occurs in the group market, where, for instance, insurance companies are allowed to charge a business more for coverage if it has a predominately-female workforce. We have heard repeatedly from predominately-female businesses that have learned that their health insurance premiums are higher because of the gender of their employees. For example, when Care & Comfort, a woman-owned Maine business that provides home health services, questioned why its premiums were increased by 38 percent, the insurer mentioned the gender makeup of its workforce.

Women who have employer-based health insurance generally have access to maternity benefits, since employer health plans are required to provide this care by the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act.  However, no such protection exists in the individual health insurance market and our study found that maternity care is generally unavailable to women with individual health insurance plans. We examined over 3,500 plans and found that 60% did not cover maternity care at all. A limited number of insurers sell separate maternity coverage riders, but this supplemental coverage is often hard to find, limited in scope and for meaningful coverage prohibitively expensive.

In addition to the barriers presented by gender rating and maternity care exclusions, women also face discrimination in the individual health insurance market due to “pre-existing” condition exclusions. Simply being pregnant or having had a Cesarean section can be grounds enough for insurance companies to deny women coverage altogether.  And in eight states and the District of Columbia, insurers are allowed to use a woman’s status as a survivor of domestic violence to deny her health insurance.

Quite simply, there is an urgent need for health reform now to make affordable, high-quality health care a reality for women across the country. The protections that are of fundamental importance for women are essential components of health reform, including robust insurance market reforms that apply broadly across all health insurance markets and provisions to ensure that care is affordable such as sliding scale premium subsidies and reasonable limits on out-of-pocket costs. 

For women and their families, health reform that assures affordability and fairness will mean the difference between securing access to quality health care and going without.  

October 15, 2009 in Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

KFF taking applications for Barbara Jordan Health Policy Fellowships

The Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholars Program brings talented college seniors and recent graduates to Washington, D.C., where they are placed in congressional offices and learn about health policy issues, with a focus on issues affecting racial and ethnic minority and underserved communities. Through the ten-week program (May 17–July 24, 2010), Scholars gain knowledge about federal legislative procedure and health policy issues, while further developing their critical thinking and leadership skills. In addition to gaining experience in a congressional office, Scholars participate in seminars and site visits to augment their knowledge of health care issues, and write and present a health policy research memo that addresses a problem of concern to disadvantaged populations.

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation established the Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholars Program at Howard University to honor the legacy of former Foundation Trustee and Congresswoman Barbara Jordan and to expand the pool of students in the field of health policy who are interested in issues affecting racial and ethnic minority and underserved communities. As a member of the United States Congress and the Texas State Legislature, Barbara Jordan's distinguished career was exemplified by her tireless advocacy of behalf of vulnerable populations. She brought this passion to her work, inspiring others to become involved in addressing challenging health policy issues.

More information/application:

October 10, 2009 in Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

More from the guy who never sleeps....

To Roth or Not to Roth: Analyzing the Conversion Opportunity for 2010 and Beyond
Richard L. Kaplan, University of Illinois College of Law

Bureau of National Affairs Daily Tax Report, Vol. 9, No. 181, September 22, 2009
University of Illinois Law & Economics Research Paper No. LE09-026

Beginning in 2010, all taxpayers will be able to convert their existing Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) to Roth IRAs, without regard to their level of income or marital status. In effect, taxpayers will be able to lock in current income tax rates on account values that have been eroded by recent investment market declines. This article analyzes who should take advantage of this opportunity, using the barest minimum of arithmetic (and no calculus).

Get it here:

October 6, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Dick Kaplan on Social Security's "no COLA" year....

The Social Security Administration announced Sept. 30 that there would be no increase in retirement benefits next year – the first freeze in more than three decades. Law professor Richard L. Kaplan, an expert in elder law, discusses the reasoning and the consequences in an interview with News Bureau Business & Law Editor Jan Dennis.

What is the basis of the freeze?

image of professor richard kaplanIt is a very unusual development. Since automatic cost-of-living adjustments began in 1975, there has never been a year when Social Security benefits did not increase. This year’s result is due to the fact that the Consumer Price Index has gone down during the 12-month period that is used to adjust these benefits. The law prohibits benefits from being cut, so the result is that benefits will remain unchanged.

Many older people complain that their cost of living, especially medical expenses, continued to rise despite the CPI decline. So should they get an increase nonetheless?

Current law ties adjustment of Social Security benefits to the CPI computed for “urban wage earners and clerical workers.” That index may not be especially representative for older Americans whose consumption patterns differ from the so-called basket of goods that is used to derive the CPI. But until the government designs a variant of the CPI specifically for older people, no cost of living increase is allowable unless the currently computed CPI rises.

Read more here:

October 6, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Canadian Healthcare Association publishes new report on future directions for long term care facilities

Thursday, October 1, 2009

UK's Brown promises free home personal care for frail elderly

Free personal care will be introduced so the frailest can be cared for in their own homes, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has pledged.  Under what is being dubbed the National Care Service, some 350,000 people with "the highest needs" would receive home care regardless of personal wealth.  Currently anyone with savings over £23,500 receives no state assistance.  Ministers hope to implement the scheme in England by mid-2010. A general election must be held by early June.

He also elaborated on manifesto plans to overhaul the current system of social care for the elderly, which is seen by many as punishing those on modest incomes who have saved for their old age.  The National Care Service will bring together the NHS and local authorities which currently provide social services, Mr Brown said.  The proposals for personal care will affect some 350,000 people in England who require assistance with every aspect of day-to-day living - from dressing to cooking. It would not apply to those already in residential care, but in principle help people to remain in their homes.  A total of £400 million a year will be taken from low priority areas of the NHS budget, including marketing and communications, to help pay for the plan.

Source/more: BBC,

October 1, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

83 year old Scottish physician in custody over "assisted suicide"

A RETIRED Scottish GP who advised an academic on how to kill herself was last night released on bail by police after six hours of interrogation.  Dr Libby Wilson was the first person to be arrested since the publication of new guidelines on assisted suicide and she accused the authorities of an "appalling waste of public money and police time and effort".

The retired doctor, 83, is a right -to-die campaigner who runs the organisation Friends at the End, which advises terminally ill people how to take their own lives, as well as helping to arrange trips to Dignitas, the Swiss clinic.  She was asked to attend Woking police station in Surrey yesterday morning and was arrested after disclosing that she gave "final tips" to Cari Loder, a 48-year-old multiple sclerosis sufferer who killed herself at her home in Surrey in June by inhaling a lethal dose of a gas she had ordered over the internet.  Last night, Dr Wilson, from Glasgow, said she had had nothing to do with the death of Ms Loder. She said she had only had two conversations with Ms Loder prior to her death.  She said: "The police were very polite and pleasant, but I just think it is an appalling waste of public money and police time and effort to investigate the death of a woman who wanted to die and had very good reason to die.  "I had nothing to do with the means of how she did it. I spoke to the lady and she phoned me twice, but that was the extent of my involvement."

Source/more:  The Scotsman,

October 1, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Malta News: All new nursing homes must be dementia-friendly

All new homes for the elderly must be dementia friendly – in a bid to increase awareness of dementia. This measure was announced by Parliamentary Secretary for the Elderly and Community Care, Mario Galea yesterday.   Dr Galea said that these homes could model themselves on the new block at St Vincent de Paule. This life altering condition affected not only the individual, but also the family members, which was why more facts about it had to be disseminated.   Since it was estimated that the 4,500 Maltese affected by dementia would double in the next 25 years, if rates kept increasing at this alarming rate, the government had set up a committee, with the specific aim of evaluating the situation.   They would also be presenting a number of recommendations for action to be taken in the area. Dr Charles Scerri, Society secretary and chairman of the National Dementia Committee said if people knew what it meant, they could offer appropriate understanding and help.   Dr Galea was speaking during Memory Walk, an activity organised by the Malta Dementia Society in Valletta yesterday morning.  The activity was linked to World Alzheimer Day, which is celebrated on 21 September. Alzheimers is the most common reason for a person having dementia. More information is available on

Source:  The Malta Indpendent On Line,

October 1, 2009 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)