More Than 75 National Organizations Urge U.S. Senate to Defend Medicare and Medicaid

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–Advocates Oppose Key Provisions in the American Health Care Act–

Washington, DC—More than 75 national organizations sent a letter to Senate leadership today, urging them to reject the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and to engage in a transparent, bipartisan dialogue on needed reforms to enhance health care access and affordability. The letter voices opposition to provisions in the AHCA that undermine Medicare’s financing and risk access to essential care for people with Medicare and Medicaid.

The Affordable Care Act imposed a small tax increase on the highest earners that helped put Medicare on stronger financial footing. The AHCA’s repeal of this tax will result in lost revenues, causing the Medicare Hospital Insurance (Part A) Trust Fund to become insolvent two years earlier than anticipated. The letter expresses alarm that Congress would knowingly vote to undercut the Trust Fund.
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Justice in Aging Calls the American Healthcare Act an All-Out Assault on Older Americans

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Washington, DC (May 4, 2017) – Today, the House of Representatives voted to take away healthcare from millions of Americans to give tax cuts to the wealthy, with seniors being hit the hardest.

Statement by Kevin Prindiville, Executive Director of Justice in Aging

“The bill threatens the very heart of the Medicaid program, taking away the guarantee that Medicaid will be there when seniors need it most. By slashing Medicaid funding by over $800 billion, the AHCA will place tremendous strain on state budgets.  States will be forced to cut services, restrict eligibility, and reduce benefits for seniors, children, people with disabilities, and low-income adults.”

“Congress is forcing families to pay more out of pocket when grandparents and other loved ones need nursing home care or home care. Two-thirds of all Medicaid spending for older adults pays for long-term services and supports.  The AHCA puts this vital care for seniors in jeopardy.”

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Justice in Aging Welcomes Regan Bailey to Lead Litigation Efforts

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WASHINGTON, DC – Justice in Aging is pleased to welcome Regan Bailey as its new Litigation Director. Justice in Aging is a national legal advocacy organization that uses the power of law to fight senior poverty. Regan will be working in the organization’s Washington, DC office.

Regan joins Justice in Aging after serving for the past five years at the US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division in the Special Litigation Section as a Trial Attorney. Prior to joining the Department of Justice, Regan directed legal advocacy for Disability Rights Washington. Previously she served as the Assistant Director for Public Benefits and Economic Stability at Maryland Legal Aid Bureau, a Senior Attorney at University Legal Services, and a Managing Attorney at West Virginia Advocates. She was a Writ Clerk for the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia and was also a Staff Attorney for DNA People’s Legal Services for the Navajo Nation.
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Justice in Aging statement on the Amended AHCA

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Below is a statement opposing the amended version of the American Health Care Act from Kevin Prindiville, Executive Director of Justice in Aging:

“The new version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is even worse than the previous one for the older adults in our communities. The new version of the bill includes all of the devastating cuts of the old version, and also further weakens important protections for people with pre-existing conditions.”

“Eight in ten older adults ages 55-64 have pre-existing conditions. The MacArthur amendment would allow insurance companies to discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions by charging them sharply higher premiums, taking us back to pre-ACA days when these older adults couldn’t visit a doctor because they couldn’t afford to purchase insurance.”
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Judge Approves Settlement with Social Security Administration in Hart v. Berryhill

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Oakland, CA – On Thursday, March 16, Judge Jon S. Tigar of the Northern District of California granted final approval of the settlement agreement in Hart v. Berryhill, a case filed on behalf of over 4,000 residents of the broader Bay Area and Central Coast whose disability benefits were denied or terminated, based on medical reports of a disqualified physician.

Morrison & Foerster LLP, Justice in Aging, and Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County filed the case against the Social Security Administration (SSA) in 2015 challenging the agency’s reliance on the medical reports of a disqualified physician to make disability eligibility decisions. The physician had been disqualified from performing medical exams for the agency after numerous complaints about their quality and accuracy, and his failure to correct his practices after warnings from the agency, yet the agency continued to rely on his reports. The parties have agreed to a settlement that will allow many plaintiffs to have their disability status redecided.
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Justice in Aging Statement on the American Health Care Act

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Washington, DC (March 8, 2017) – This statement is from Kevin Prindiville, Executive Director at Justice in Aging, on the American Health Care Act:

“Republican lawmakers in the House have drafted an ACA replacement bill, the American Healthcare Act (AHCA), that is an attack on the health and long-term care needs of older adults. This bill makes health care more expensive, targeting older adults for the deepest cuts in services and the largest increases in cost.”

“We are particularly opposed to the Medicaid cuts at the heart of this bill.  The bill fundamentally changes the promise and structure of Medicaid by capping federal funding for the program at levels that, by design, will leave states without enough funds to meet the health and long-term care needs of older adults over time. Over 6 million older adults rely on Medicaid, and 2/3 of all Medicaid spending for older adults goes to essential long term care services in nursing homes and at home and in the community.  AHCA threatens the care of all of these seniors and the peace of mind of their families.” Read More

100 Natl Orgs tell Congress to Reject Medicaid Cuts

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Washington, DC—Today, the Medicare Rights Center, Justice in Aging, the Center for Medicare Advocacy, and 97 other national organizations sent a letter to Congressional leadership expressing grave concerns with proposals that would radically change Medicaid—a vital safety net that provides quality health care and services for millions of Americans, including 10 million older adults and people with disabilities who are eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare.

Recent proposals put forward in Congress would completely restructure Medicaid’s finances, eligibility, and availability. Two ways of restructuring the program have risen to prominence: block grants and per-capita caps. While the precise workings of these proposals differ, both are designed to reduce federal support to state Medicaid programs. Cutting federal dollars will inevitably lead to fewer people covered, fewer services available, and higher health care costs for low-income families—putting older adults, people with disabilities, and their families at risk. Read More

Judge Allows Medicare Observation Status Appeal Rights Case to Proceed

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Feb. 10, 2017 – In a decision released on February 8, 2017, a federal judge allowed Medicare hospital patients seeking a right to appeal their placement on “outpatient observation status” to proceed with their lawsuit. The Barrows case, now called Alexander v. Cochran, is a proposed nationwide class action brought by individuals who were forced to pay up to $30,000 for post-hospital skilled nursing facility care because they had been classified as outpatients in observation status during their hospitalizations.

Although care provided to patients on observation status is indistinguishable from inpatient care, it does not count toward the three-day inpatient hospital stay requirement for Medicare coverage of nursing home care. This leaves beneficiaries with the burden of paying for extremely costly nursing and rehabilitative care themselves – or forces them to forgo necessary care. Read More