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Katrina Cohens

Fact Sheet: CMS Regulations Set Ground Rules for D-SNP

By | DUAL ELIGIBLES, FACT SHEET, Health Care, Medicaid, Medicare, REPORTS

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently finalized rules implementing regulations governing minimum integration standards for Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans (D-SNPs) pursuant to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. D-SNPs are Medicare Advantage plans that limit enrollment to individuals who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. With the permanent authorization of D-SNPs, we expect to see an increase of D-SNPs entering the market across the country.

Justice in Aging has analyzed the new regulations and created a new factsheet summarizing the major integration requirements including special considerations for advocates.

Fact Sheet: Seniors and People with Disabilities Who Receive SSI Can Apply for CalFresh in Summer 2019

By | CA Health Network Alert, Economic Security, FACT SHEET, REPORTS, Supplemental Security Income

Due in part to advocacy from groups like Californians for SSI, the 2018-2019 state budget included a policy change allowing California seniors and people with disabilities who receive SSI to be eligible for CalFresh (SNAP) benefits starting June 1, 2019.

Access to federal SNAP nutrition assistance will increase food security for California’s low-income SSI seniors and people with disabilities, leading to fewer people being forced to choose between basics like food and medicine, and giving people more flexibility to direct money toward other needs such as finding and being able to afford housing. The expansion will be particularly important for seniors age 60 or older, who represent more than half of the over 1.2 million low-income Californians who receive SSI to help meet their basic needs.

Aging services providers can learn more details about this important and historic change in a new fact sheet from Justice in Aging. The five-page fact sheet helps providers understand the details of the change in order to better support their clients. The fact sheet also includes information on CalFresh rules that will be particularly relevant for enrolling SSI seniors and people with disabilities this summer and beyond.

Issue Brief: Older Immigrants and Medicare

By | Health Care, Health Care Defense, ISSUE BRIEF, Language Access, Medicare

Accessing the Medicare program as an older immigrant can be a complex and confusing process – especially when an immigrant is not a citizen, has limited work history, and limited English proficiency. Justice in Aging’s new issue brief, Older Immigrants and Medicare, is intended to provide advocates who work with older immigrants a summary of the policies and practices to help immigrants enroll in and pay for Medicare coverage.

The issue brief specifically covers the following topics and includes numerous hypothetical examples to illustrate the myriad of rules and scenarios older immigrants face when attempting to access Medicare:

  • Eligibility and enrollment, with particular attention to rules affecting non-citizens
  • Help paying for coverage
  • Post-enrollment issues potentially affecting immigrant beneficiaries
  • Language access rights and resources in Medicare

California Lawmakers Introduce a Trio of New Health Care Bills Focused on Older Adults

By | IN THE NEWS, Medicaid

Politico Pro: California Lawmakers Introduce a Trio of New Health Care Bills Focused on Older Adults (March 4, 2019)

The state of California has introduced three bills meant to help low-income seniors relying on Medi-Cal to cover health care costs. If passed, seniors over age 65 and people with disabilities would qualify for free coverage.

“Obamacare expanded coverage and affordability provisions for low-income people, but many of those benefits don’t apply to seniors once they reach age 65”, said Justice in Aging’s Senior Staff Attorney Claire Ramsey. “It’s about making Medi-Cal fairer and work better for older adults. We’re trying to stabilize their income and their financial security.” This article is behind a paywall. This is a summary.

Are Assisted Living Facilities Regulated?

By | IN THE NEWS, Nursing Homes

The Nursing Home Abuse Podcast: Are Assisted Living Facilities Regulated? (March 03, 2019)

On March 3, an episode of the Nursing Home Abuse Podcast featured Justice in Aging Directing Attorney, Eric Carlson, as a guest. The podcast is a project of two attorneys in Georgia. The episode was Are Assisted Living Facilities Regulated? Beginning at around 5:37, Eric talks about the differences between assisted living and nursing facilities, noting that more people who need higher levels of care are living in assisted living facilities than in previous years. Eric covers the regulatory framework for assisted living facilities, making clear that the laws governing assisted living facilities are different from state-to-state, as opposed to nursing homes, which are regulated by the federal government as the primary payor for nursing home care. The result is that, as more people with higher health care needs are relying on assisted living facilities, they may not be getting the care they need. This is due to lack of staff medical training and lack of government oversight. His advice to individuals and families when considering an assisted living facility is to explicitly ask the management about current and future care needs to get information about how the facility will handle the care needs of the individual who will be living there.

Fact Sheets: California Senior Legislative Package 2019

By | CA Health Network Alert, Health Care, Health Care Defense

California legislators have introduced a number of budget and legislative proposals that, if enacted, would work together to improve the health and long-term care system that serves the state’s older adults, and help advance greater economic security for the most vulnerable older adults who are grappling with some of the nation’s highest housing costs.

One package of bills has been introduced that would work together to make Medi-Cal more fair and equitable and create more stability for seniors and people with disabilities. Read about those bills here. For more detail on each bill, you will find a series of fact sheets below.

We will keep advocates updated as these and other proposals move through the process.

Older Californians and State of the State


San Francisco Bay Times: Older Californians and State of the State (February 22, 2019)

This article discusses California’s rising older adult population and CA Governor Newsom’s plan to support them. Newsom’s Master Plan aims to restore and expand services for older adults and adults with disabilities. The article cites statistics from Justice in Aging’s Older Women and Poverty report including, older adults in poverty, or on the brink of poverty, overwhelmingly are women, women of color, and LGBTQ women. Read the full article.

CMS set to roll back nursing home arbitration ban


Politico Pro: CMS set to roll back nursing home arbitration ban (February 13, 2019)

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, CMS, is reversing a rule that would have made it easier for nursing home residents to sue nursing homes. The rule would allow nursing home facilities to require nursing home residents or their families to settle complaints through arbitration instead of litigation. Consumer advocates argue that arbitration agreements are often unjust and force residents to give up negligence or abuse lawsuits.

“No nursing home resident or agent is making a truly voluntary decision to choose arbitration at the time of admission to a nursing facility,” said Justice in Aging’s Directing Attorney Eric Carlson. “People are under tremendous amount of pressure at that point, and they’re not in a position to make decisions about future dispute resolution procedures.” The article is behind a paywall. This is a summary.

Fact Sheet: Make the Expanded Spousal Impoverishment Protection Permanent

By | FACT SHEET, Health Care, Home & Community Based Services, Medicaid, REPORTS

Married seniors and adults with disabilities overwhelming want to live at home and age in place. Increasingly, federal and state Medicaid rules have prioritized home and community-based services (HCBS) which allow people to stay in their homes and in their communities. Congress recently helped these efforts by expanding a Medicaid eligibility rule, known as the spousal impoverishment protection, to individuals eligible for HCBS. The protection makes it possible for an individual who needs a nursing home level of care to qualify for Medicaid while allowing their spouse to retain a modest amount of income and resources. However, the expansion of the spousal impoverishment protection is set to expire on March 31, 2019 unless Congress acts. This means that individuals who qualified under the expanded protection may lose access to Medicaid and to their HCBS and may be left with no choice but to move into institutional long-term care, away from their spouses.

Letting the spousal impoverishment protection expire will hurt families and force more people out of their homes and their communities. We urge Congress to make the expanded spousal impoverishment protection permanent so seniors and people with disabilities can age in place and with dignity.

Justice in Aging has created a fact sheet on the importance of the expanded HCBS spousal impoverishment protection and calling on Congress to make it permanent so seniors and people with disabilities can age in place and with dignity.

AARP, other national groups challenge Kentucky’s Medicaid waiver


Insider Louisville: AARP, other national groups challenge Kentucky’s Medicaid waiver (January 30, 2019)

Justice in Aging, along with AARP and the AARP Foundation, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, has jointly filed a brief that illuminates the harm of Kentucky’s Medicaid overhaul called the Kentucky HEALTH program. Kentucky’s older adults are more likely to be negatively impacted with the program’s rules and penalties, which includes a required 80 hours of  work related activities completed per month and the termination of non-emergency medical transportation benefits for some beneficiaries. A handful of other health-related groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and others, wrote a separate friend of the court brief. Read the full article.