New Frontier Chronicle: Brakes on meals (4/24/2017) The Trump administration’s 2018 budget proposes to eliminate Community Development and Community Services Block Grants, two key funding streams that Meals on Wheels programs rely on. The budget also proposes a 17.9 percent budget cut to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The HHS administers the Older Americans Act, which accounts for about 35 percent of Meals on Wheels program’s budget. Meals on Wheels serves more than 2 million seniors each year, delivering more than 218 million meals. Justice in Aging’s Eric Carlson said, “Meals on Wheels programs are incredibly important. There really isn’t an alternative. When you think about it, what else would you do?”
Los Angeles Times: An in-home care program for California’s elderly and disabled is constantly at the heart of budget battles. Here’s why (4/18/2017) Funding for California’s In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program continues be a source of friction between the state and county governments. Recent budget battles include the Brown administration proposing to restore the old IHSS cost-sharing arrangement, which would shift $600 million cost back to counties. The program, which cares for more than half a million people, allows consumers to stay in their homes and saves the state money on institutional care. Justice in Aging’s staff attorney Claire Ramsey said that, “Overall, it is an invaluable program and it really has accomplished a lot of the goals it set out to accomplish.”
California Healthline: Medicaid Caps Pitched By GOP Could Shrink Seniors’ Benefits (3/21/2017) A Republican-proposed bill aims to cap federal Medicaid contribution to states. Medicaid pays for more than half of all long-term care in the US and supports more than 2 million low-income seniors. Advocates oppose the cap, fearing that benefits could shrink or disappear. Justice in Aging’s Eric Carlson said,“It doesn’t matter whether it’s a block grant or per-capita cap. Either way the federal government is setting a hard limit on federal funding available, and states are going to be forced to make due with whatever is sent to them, and it’s not going to be enough.”
NBC News: Trump Administration Removes LGBTQ Questions From Elderly Survey (3/20/2017) A 2017 draft of the National Survey of Older American Act Participants (NSOAAP), used by the federal government to allocate around $2 billion for senior services across the nation, has eliminated questions about LGBTQ seniors. Questions about sexual orientation and gender identity were added in 2014. A 2016 report from Justice in Aging revealed that LGBTQ seniors rely heavily on services offered by groups funded through the survey.
Public News Service: Senior Advocates Oppose “Age Tax” Bill And “Trumpcare” (3/16/2017) A bill proposed in the House of Representatives would raise the amount of insurance paid by seniors by up to five times the current amount. Advocacy groups oppose the bill. Justice in Aging’s Amber Christ said, “It’s particularly problematic because it’s increasing the amount of premiums older adults will be subject to while also decreasing the amount in tax premium credits that older adults will receive.”
Philly.com: How to fight back against common problems in nursing homes (3/3/2017) Justice in Aging’s Eric Carlson provides answers to common nursing home problems and how consumers can use the Nursing Home Reform Act to fight back.
Minneapolis Star Tribune: Minnesota Victims of Nursing Home Abuse Challenge Arbitration Clauses (1/29/2017) Arbitration agreements are proliferating in the senior care industry. Many times potential residents are required to sign them as a condition of admission. The clauses require residents to forfeit their right to a court hearing in cases of neglect, abuse, wrongful eviction, and even death. The nursing home industry uses these agreements to block residents and their families from pursuing lawsuits. A new federal rule that is part of new nursing home regulations implemented last fall bars long-term care facilities that receive federal funding from requiring residents enter into arbitration before a dispute arises. “More and more people are waking up to the essential unfairness and lack of transparency of these clauses,” said Eric Carlson, directing attorney of Justice in Aging.” The rule has been blocked in court, but the government’s case is being cited as evidence that many such clauses are invalid and that victims of maltreatment have a right to their day in court.
Consumer Reports: How Seniors Crushed by Old Student Loans Can Get Relief (12/21/2016) Many seniors are being pushed into poverty due to old student loans. An increasing amount of seniors are having their Social Security income garnished by the government to pay off student debt. Justice in Aging’s Kate Lang says that “this is something that was not common till recently. The rising cost of higher education means that the debt itself is much larger and it’s much more difficult to pay it off over time. What’s really troubling is that there will be more and more people in this situation.” The number of seniors affected is expected to rise as baby boomers retire.
The New York Times: No Rest at Rest Home: Fighting Bias Against Gays and Lesbians (11/19/2016) As aging baby boomers increase demands for community living options, research has shown continued housing discrimination faced by older gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender adults. A report conducted by Justice in Aging highlighted the discrimination and barriers faced by the L.G.B.T. community. One survey revealed that a majority believed that being open about their sexual orientation would result in discrimination from housing staff. Justice in Aging’s Eric Carlson is quoted adding, “You’re in a communal living setting that puts a lot of pressure on people. Imagine how oppressive it is to have to be guarded about who you are or your family and friends.”
Modern Healthcare: CMS halts auto-enrollment proposals from Medicare Advantage plans (10/24/2016) The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has temporarily ceased accepting new proposals from health insurance companies seeking automatic patient enrollment into their Medicare Advantage plans. The process, known as seamless conversions, allows health insurance companies to automatically enroll patients from a regular plan into a private Medicare Advantage plan once the patient has turned 65 years old. The process has been criticized for lacking consumer protections. Justice in Aging’s Directing Attorney Georgia Burke said,“We are very pleased with the moratorium and the plans to review the policy, because we really think they need to have additional attention on protecting and encouraging consumer choice.”