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PRESS RELEASE

Joint Statement: President’s Budget Targets Key Health Care Programs; Millions of Older Adults and People with Disabilities at Risk if Implemented, Advocates Warn

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Washington, DC—The President’s annual budget request is, at its core, a statement of values. It is incredibly troubling then, that President Trump’s budget blueprint for FY 2019, submitted this week, again prioritizes deep cuts to programs on which older adults and people with disabilities rely, including Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act.

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Justice in Aging Statement on Proposed 2019 Budget

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President Trump’s proposed FY 2019 Budget is yet another attack on the health and economic security of older adults and people with disabilities. After using the latest tax bill to give away trillions of dollars in tax cuts to America’s wealthiest, the Administration is attempting to pay for those tax cuts by slashing critical programs that keep older adults in their homes, allow them to visit their doctors, and ensure they can meet their basic needs.

This budget would take us backwards by increasing poverty and making it harder for people to get the health care they need. It goes against what Congress wants and what the public wants. In its 2018 budget, Congress recently increased spending for important and popular programs. Those gains would disappear in 2019 under this budget.

The American people do not want cuts to Medicaid or the repeal of the ACA, yet this budget renews calls for slashing Medicaid by more than $1.4 trillion over the next decade through block grants and per capita caps, as well as repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As we have explained, such cuts would be devastating to low-income older adults who rely on Medicaid to support their health care needs and ability to stay in their homes, leave millions without coverage, and weaken consumer protections.

The President promised the American people he wouldn’t touch Medicare, yet his proposed budget for the next ten years calls for over $490 billion in cuts to a program that every American will need.

The budget also would make it harder for older adults to pay rent, put food on the table, and meet their basic needs. The budget proposes significant cuts of over $83 billion to Social Security, primarily through cuts to Social Disability Insurance (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. These programs are there for people who have no or little income and are the difference between home and a life on the streets for many.

Additionally, the budget proposes dramatic cuts to nutrition assistance, eliminates funding for home heating and cooling assistance for about 6 million low-income households, and calls for the complete elimination of the Legal Services Corporation, which provides vital legal help for low-income older adults and their families.

This budget is a true window into the misplaced priorities of this President and his Administration. On the heels of a massive tax cut that will increase income inequality, this budget proposes to make life even more difficult for America’s poor older adults and people with disabilities.

By joining together we have fought back successfully against previous attempts to cut the programs older adults and their families rely on, and we will continue to fight for justice for us all as we age.

Federal Government Falls Short in Protecting Assisted Living Residents

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(February 5, 2018)  A new report released today by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reveals that lax federal oversight over Medicaid-funded assisted living services threatens the health and safety of the over 330,000 people relying on these services across the country.

The report shows that “critical incidents”, such as unexplained deaths, assault, abuse, neglect, financial exploitation, and other serious situations are not tracked and reported adequately or consistently. Additionally, there is no way for prospective residents and their families to evaluate the quality of various assisted living facilities because this information is not readily available.

Though 48 states provide Medicaid coverage for assisted living at a cost of more than $10 billion annually, more than half (26 states) could not report the number of critical incidents occurring in assisted living facilities.

“The GAO report only scratches the surface,” said Eric Carlson, a directing attorney at the non-profit Justice in Aging.  “Despite the significant federal Medicaid expenditures, the federal government generally defers to state assisted living licensing laws, and some of those state laws are grossly inadequate to protect the health and safety of the high-need residents that receive Medicaid funded assisted living care.”

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Justice in Aging Joins Other Civil Rights Groups in Amicus Brief Filing As SCOTUS Scrutinizes Workers’ Rights

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Monday, August 21 – To protect the rights of workers, Justice in Aging teamed up last week with leading civil rights law firms, The Impact Fund, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (“LDF”) and Cohen Milstein, to file an amicus brief on behalf of more than thirty civil rights organizations from across the country in a trio of cases pending in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The cases address the question of whether employment agreements that prevent workers from taking “concerted” action to challenge workplace violations conflict with protections in federal labor law. Such agreements undermine the fight for civil rights.
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Court Certifies Nationwide Class in “Observation Status” Case

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Decision in Alexander v. Price Means Medicare Patients Could Gain Right to Appeal Placement on “Observation Status” and Avoid Large Medical Bills

August 1, 2017 – Eighty-four-year-old Nancy Niemi of North Carolina was hospitalized for 39 days earlier this year after her doctor sent her to the emergency room. It took weeks to stabilize her blood pressure and she experienced serious complications. But unbelievably, Ms. Niemi was categorized as an outpatient on “observation status” for her entire hospitalization, and she therefore lacked the three-day inpatient stay Medicare requires for coverage of her subsequent, very expensive care at a nursing home. Ms. Niemi’s son tried to help her challenge her lengthy placement on observation status, but Medicare does not allow beneficiaries to appeal this issue. She still owes thousands of dollars to the nursing facility. However, due to the federal court decision issued July 31, 2017, she is now a member of a nationwide class of hospital patients who may gain the right to appeal their placement on observation status.
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In Reckless and Irresponsible Move, Senate Votes to Proceed on Repeal of the ACA

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Below is a statement by Executive Director Kevin Prindiville of Justice in Aging

Today, the Senate took a reckless and irresponsible step towards gutting healthcare for older adults and others, and removing critical consumer protections that save lives. With Vice President Pence casting the tie-breaking vote, the Senate voted to begin a curtailed 20-hour debate on several bills that would drastically change our health care system, stripping coverage from millions of Americans and cutting over $750 billion from Medicaid. Any bill that emerges from such a chaotic process would have devastating effects on older Americans and their families.
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Bill in Congress Aims to Address Poverty Among Older Adults and People with Disabilities

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Washington, DC—(July 19, 2017) 85-year-old Ortencia boils soup bones with vegetables she gets from the food bank to stretch her weekly food allotment and stay healthy. 61-year old Carey endures numerous aches and pains to carry groceries home from the bus, the cheapest form of transportation. Both struggle to survive on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a need-based program administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that provides a very basic income to older adults and people with disabilities. Major provisions of the program haven’t been updated since it was created in 1972, and as the program fails to keep up with the cost of living, the 8.3 million people who rely on it to pay rent, buy food, and meet other basic needs keep falling further below the poverty line.

Representative Grijalva (D-AZ) introduced the SSI Restoration Act of 2017 in Congress today, with the support of 36 representatives and more than 80 organizations. The SSI Restoration Act puts forth solutions intended to help people like Ortencia and Carey make ends meet. The act increases the amount of money individuals can receive to supplement their income from both employment and non-employment sources; it increases the amount of assets individuals and couples can save for emergencies to a limit that’s more in line with today’s dollars; it repeals a provision that discourages people from seeking help from family; and removes the marriage penalty, among other adjustments.
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CBO Score Confirms Latest ACA Repeal Bill Will Lead to Devastating Coverage Losses and Sharply Higher Premiums

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Below is a statement by Executive Director Kevin Prindiville on the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act of 2017 (ORRA)

Today the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) confirmed what we already knew: repealing the Affordable Care Act and delaying replacement will wreak havoc on our health care system. According to the CBO’s report, the Senate’s latest bill would strip coverage from 32 million Americans and cause health insurance premiums to nearly double in the next decade.
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Justice in Aging’s Statement on Senate ACA Repeal Efforts

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Senate leadership has announced that they will no longer move forward with the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) of 2017. Instead, they seek to proceed to a vote to immediately repeal the Affordable Care Act, and delay replacement to a later date.

While we are relieved that the BCRA, and its unprecedented cuts to Medicaid, is off the table, repealing the ACA remains a terrible idea that would harm older adults—especially in the absence of a meaningful replacement bill.

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Medi-Cal Recipients Sue California for Failing to Ensure Seniors and People with Disabilities Can Stay in Their Homes

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July 6, 2017 – The State of California has failed to implement a federal law that requires Medi-Cal to implement eligibility rules intended to prevent one spouse from going broke while paying for at-home care for a spouse with a disability, according to a class action lawsuit filed today, Kelley v. Kent (LA. Super. Ct.).

When one spouse has chronic conditions requiring home-based care, the other spouse must balance the cost of that care against the couple’s basic needs. The federal law allows a person to get needed home-based services in certain instances in which a couple has income or resources higher than the typical maximum limit to qualify for Medicaid. Though the federal rule has been in effect for three and a half years, California has failed to implement it, forcing many families to teeter on the brink of financial ruin in an effort to care for their loved ones at home. The case was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court today by Bet Tzedek, Justice in Aging, Disability Rights California, and Western Center on Law and Poverty with pro-bono partner McDermott Will & Emery.

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