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Katrina Cohens

Free Webinar: Updates on Public Charge & Older Immigrants

By | Medicaid, Medicare, Safety Net Defense, WEBINAR

When: Monday, March 9, 2020 from 11 -11:30 am PT/2-2:30 pm ET

In January, the U.S. Supreme Court removed the nationwide temporary injunction that had prevented the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) public charge immigration rule from taking effect. This means that the public charge rule that DHS finalized last August can go into effect nationwide, except in Illinois, where it is blocked by a statewide injunction. DHS announced that it will begin implementing the final rule on February 24th.

The Supreme Court’s decision endangers the health and well-being of older immigrants and their families and cruelly impedes the path to citizenship and family unification. However, it is not a final decision and we must continue to fight to stop this harmful policy from becoming permanent. The multiple cases challenging the underlying legality of the final public charge rule will continue in the courts. DHS has appealed all the district court decisions that issued preliminary injunctions to the Second, Fourth, Seventh, and Ninth Circuits. DHS has also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

Justice in Aging and our partners have filed amicus briefs in the Second and Ninth Circuits to ask the court to affirm the district courts’ nationwide injunctions and to highlight the ways in which this rule unfairly targets older immigrants, their families, and caregivers. This webinar, Updates on Public Charge & Older Immigrants, will begin with an overview of the public charge test and how it applies to older adults, discuss the current state of litigation, and provide information on what advocates need to know about the rule’s implementation.

Who should participate:
Aging and legal advocates, advocates serving immigrant communities, community-based providers, and others wanting to learn more about how changes to the public charge test and implementation of the new regulations impact older immigrants.

Presenter:
Denny Chan, Senior Staff Attorney, Justice in Aging
Natalie Kean, Senior Staff Attorney, Justice in Aging

This webinar took place on Monday, March 9, 2020, from 11 -11:30 am PT/2-2:30 pm ET. 

Closed captioning will be available during this webinar. A link with access to the captions will be shared through GoToWebinar’s chat box shortly before the webinar start time.

WATCH THE WEBINAR DOWNLOAD THE POWERPOINT

California’s Master Plan For Aging: Prevent and End Elder Abuse in California

By | FACT SHEET, Long Term Care, Nursing Homes, REPORTS

California has committed to developing a Master Plan for Aging in order to meet the needs of older adults today and for generations to come.

The fourth in this series of papers, Prevent and End Elder Abuse in California, offers specific policy recommendations, including improved data collection and sharing, increased cooperation among government entities, simpler advance planning, and establishing robust consumer protections—all of which work together to prevent elder abuse. We are grateful to partners at the California Elder Justice Coalition, with whom we worked to develop these recommendations.

FAQ: Part D Drug Co-Pays and Refunds for Certain California Dual Eligibles

By | CA Health Network Alert, FACT SHEET, Health Care, Medicare, REPORTS

In 2012, the Affordable Care Act expanded the Part D Extra Help Program, also known as the Low-Income Subsidy (LIS), so that dual eligibles enrolled in certain Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) should not be charged any co-pays for Part D covered drugs. However, since 2012, some California duals enrolled in Community-Based Adult Services (CBAS) and in San Mateo’s Multipurpose Senior Services Programs (MSSP) have been improperly charged co-pays. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and California’s Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) is beginning to work with Part D and Medicare Advantage plans so that these dual eligibles are properly assessed co-pays and retroactively reimbursed for any improper amounts collected.

Justice in Aging created an FAQ for advocates to answer key questions about the implementation of these refunds.

California’s Master Plan For Aging: Address Senior Hunger by Maximizing CalFresh and the Hold Harmless Food Benefits

By | CA Health Network Alert, FACT SHEET, REPORTS, SENIOR POVERTY

California has committed to developing a Master Plan for Aging in order to meet the needs of older adults today and for generations to come.

The third in this series of papers, Addressing Senior Hunger by Maximizing CalFresh and the Hold Harmless Food Benefits, offers specific policy recommendations for addressing troubling senior hunger trends, and the low utilization among seniors of available benefits.

What Seniors Need To Know About Trump’s 2021 Federal Budget

By | Affordable Care Act, IN THE NEWS, Long Term Care, Medicaid, Safety Net Defense, SENIOR POVERTY, Social Security

Forbes: What Seniors Need To Know About Trump’s 2021 Federal Budget (February 10, 2020)

President Trump’s proposed 2021 Federal Budget would cause serious harm to low income older adults. The budget proposal includes cuts to critical programs that serve low income older adults, including Social Security Disability Insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid. The budget would also cut funds to federal grant programs that would impact Meals on Wheels, utilities assistance, senior job programs, and legal aid for seniors. “This budget demonstrates the lack of commitment to the safety, security and needs of older adults in our community,” said Kevin Prindiville, Justice in Aging’s Executive Director.

Senior Staff Attorney – Housing and Homelessness

By | Jobs & Fellowships

Oakland or Los Angeles, CA Office

Justice in Aging seeks a Senior Staff Attorney with at least seven years of experience to join our Economic Security team in either our Oakland or Los Angeles, CA office. The successful candidate will develop and lead a new project to respond to the needs of low-income older adults in California facing housing instability. This is an exciting opportunity to advocate for solutions to systemic problems at the state and federal level for housing issues impacting low-income older Californians, and to provide legal training and technical assistance to advocates across the state. The attorney will be based in Oakland or Los Angeles, will be part of Justice in Aging’s Economic Security Team, and will work with staff in all three of our offices (Washington, DC, Oakland, and Los Angeles).

Justice in Aging uses the power of law and our expertise in safety net programs like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and Supplemental Security Income to fight senior poverty. For more than 40 years, we’ve focused on addressing systemic injustice and the resulting inequities that often impact women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and people with limited English proficiency.

We have a rich tradition of successful, high-impact, strategic advocacy on behalf of the more than 7 million seniors living in poverty across the country. Our Economic Security team engages with local advocates across the country to monitor and address legal issues that impact older adults. The Senior Staff Attorney position presents an excellent opportunity to contribute to this impactful work by building out a new issue area in a collegial, collaborative environment, and in a time when housing instability poses a serious threat to the security and dignity of older adults.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the position is filled. Candidates are encouraged to send in their materials by February 27, 2020. Questions about the position can be directed to Shelby Minister at sminister@justiceinaging.org.

Responsibilities:

  • Work with the Directing Attorney of the Economic Security Team to establish and promote our housing advocacy project for low-income older adults, including identifying key housing issues affecting low-income older adults in California, developing project work plans, designing training programs and pursuing systemic advocacy.
  • Engage with coalitions and partners to advance the project goals.
  • Provide technical assistance on key issues for housing advocates serving low-income older adults.
  • Present in-person and online trainings on housing issues affecting low-income older adults.
  • Advance policies at the administrative and legislative levels that solve systemic housing problems, including reviewing and commenting on proposed regulations or legislation at the state and federal level. Identify opportunities to address systemic housing issues through litigation.
  • Produce written materials (issue briefs, policy papers, etc.) identifying and offering recommended solutions for housing issues affecting low-income older adults.
  • As needed, supervise fellows, law clerks, pro bono attorneys, and other staff or consultants.
  • Limited travel will be required.

Requirements:

  • J.D., with admission in the CA Bar (or admission in another Bar with eligibility for admission in CA).
  • At least seven years of legal, advocacy, or policy experience, with significant experience in housing advocacy or policy.
  • Strong legal writing, analytical and advocacy skills.

Desired:

  • Familiarity and passion for civil rights protections and public benefits applicable to older adults (e.g., Medicaid, Medicare, SSI, Social Security, or the Americans with Disabilities Act).
  • Commitment to using the law to address systemic injustice and resulting inequities.
  • Diversity of personal and professional experience.
  • Ability to work independently, meet deadlines, and produce a high-quality work product.

Compensation:

Salary for this position for a person with seven years of legal experience will start at $83,500, with increases based on a salary scale commensurate with experience. Justice in Aging also offers a competitive benefits package, including health, dental and life insurance; flexible reimbursement plan; 403(b) retirement savings plan; paid parental leave; and generous vacation policy.

To Apply:

Please submit the following to Shelby Minister at sminister@justiceinaging.org:

  • Cover letter that describes your interest in this particular position;
  • Resume;
  • One writing sample;
  • Three professional references
  • DEI answer (see below)

In your cover letter, please address the following in order for your application to be considered:

At Justice in Aging we advocate for older adults, particularly regarding systemic injustice and the resulting inequities that often impact women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and people with limited English proficiency. To promote social justice and best achieve our mission, Justice in Aging is committed to maintaining a diverse staff and creating an inclusive and respectful workplace in which differences are acknowledged and valued. How do you think your personal or professional experience or background has prepared you to contribute to a work environment with a strong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion? Feel free to think broadly about your response to this question, applying various aspects of your life and personal experiences to your response.

Justice in Aging is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We are committed to maintaining a diverse staff and we particularly encourage applications from members of racial and ethnic minority groups, women, people with disabilities, the LGBTQ community, and others whose background may contribute to more effective representation of low-income people and underserved communities.

California’s Master Plan For Aging: Increase Income for Seniors and People with Disabilities who Receive SSI/SSP

By | FACT SHEET, Long Term Care, REPORTS, SENIOR POVERTY, Supplemental Security Income, Toolkit

California has committed to developing a Master Plan for Aging in order to meet the needs of older adults today and for generations to come.

The second of the Master Plan for Aging series of papers, Increase Income for Seniors and People with Disabilities who Receive SSI/SSP, offers three specific policy recommendations for addressing the rising income inequality leading to a lack of retirement security, and for addressing the recession-era cuts that pushed SSI recipients below the poverty line.

California Plaintiffs Win Case Against State for Failing to Provide Federally-Mandated In-Home Supportive Services

By | CA Health Network Alert, In-Home Supportive Services, PRESS RELEASE

State must reimburse or pay Medi-Cal recipients and conduct statewide outreach to thousands of Californians who may be eligible for in-home services

LOS ANGELES — Thousands of Medi-Cal beneficiaries with significant disabilities will now be able to access affordable Medi-Cal care at home, rather than going to a nursing facility. In-home care provides greater stability and health outcomes for individuals and families, and it is cost-effective for the state; but it can be prohibitively costly to pay for out-of-pocket. As a result, married people with disabilities often have to make a draconian choice: impoverish themselves and their spouses or go to a nursing facility.

“My wife and I live primarily on a fixed income of pensions and social security; we exhausted our life savings and retirement accounts paying for my care,” said plaintiff Patrick Kelley, a 68-year-old U.S. Army veteran living with spastic quadriparesis. “My wife’s ability to work was severely limited by her caregiving responsibilities to me. We spent almost all of her limited income paying for my in-home care.”

Thanks to the successful lawsuit against the state, married people with disabilities will now learn about their right to Medi-Cal eligibility so they can stay at home with their spouse, receive care, and be reimbursed through the state’s Medi-Cal program for In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS). The court ruling makes it clear that the state must fully implement a federal law, known as the expanded spousal impoverishment protection, which should have been implemented as part of the Affordable Care Act in 2014.

“This ruling will dramatically improve the quality of life for disabled Californians and their family caregivers and will prevent many Californians from falling into poverty due to the high cost of in-home care,” said Kim Selfon, IHSS Client Advocate at Bet Tzedek. “Caregivers selflessly care for their disabled spouses with courage and compassion, often to the detriment of their own finances and health. They and thousands of others will now have the support they need to continue caring for their loved ones at home.”

The two plaintiffs’ situations illustrate the diversity of the thousands of individuals that will be impacted by the outcome of this case.

“The judge’s decision is a boost to Welfare and Institutions Code section 10500, which says agencies must secure for every person the aid to which they are entitled. As California’s population ages, in-home care will become increasingly important to the future of the state,” said attorney Cori Racela of Western Center on Law & Poverty.

Plaintiff Matthew Reed is a 63-year-old man with multiple sclerosis, Bell’s Palsy, and vascular dementia from a stroke. Due to the severity of his disabilities and medical condition, Mr. Reed is eligible for Medi-Cal home services, and should have had access to care without out-of-pocket costs under spousal impoverishment protections. Instead, he was required to pay more than $1,500 per month for care, which he cannot afford.

“If the spousal impoverishment rule had been implemented as it should have, Matthew could have been found eligible for free Medi-Cal and IHSS,” said Matthew Reed’s wife, Vicki Reed. “That means my son or I could have earned IHSS wages, sparing us incalculable stress and anxiety and giving us better options for Matthew’s home care and more financial resources. I don’t want any other families to go through what we have gone through.”

The Affordable Care Act set a deadline to expand spousal impoverishment protections to home-based care starting January 1, 2014. However, the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) failed to issue any guidance about the rule until July 2017, after Mr. Kelley and Mr. Reed brought this lawsuit.

The ruling in Patrick Kelley & Matthew Reed v. California Department of Health Care Services, et. al., was issued by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge on January 14, 2020. It concludes that DHCS must a) notify beneficiaries who could benefit from the rule, particularly those denied or discontinued from Medi-Cal because DHCS failed to implement the rule on time; b) create a process for people to be found eligible for IHSS retroactively to the date they applied for Medi-Cal; and c) allow impacted individuals to be paid for home services they were entitled to during the delay period.

“Choosing between remaining at home without needed services, impoverishing oneself and one’s spouse, or moving into a facility separate from loved ones is no choice at all,” said Claire Ramsey, Senior Staff Attorney at Justice in Aging. “This ruling means relief for many who have struggled to stay at home and in their community and receive the services they need.”

Bet Tzedek is committed to providing free legal services to those that need them most. Bet Tzedek attorneys and advocates help people of all communities and generations secure life’s necessities. Wherever people are in crisis, Bet Tzedek’s core services and rapid response programs provide stability and hope. Founded in 1974, Bet Tzedek – Los Angeles’ House of Justice – helps over 50,000 people each year.

Justice in Aging is a national organization that uses the power of law to fight senior poverty by securing access to affordable health care, economic security, and the courts for older adults with limited resources. Since 1972 we’ve focused our efforts primarily on fighting for people who have been marginalized and excluded from justice, such as women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals and people with limited English proficiency.

Disability Rights California (DRC) is the agency designated under federal law to protect and advocate for the rights of Californians with disabilities. The mission of DRC is to advance the rights, dignity, equal opportunities, and choices for all people with disabilities.

Western Center on Law & Poverty fights for justice and system-wide change to secure housing, health care, racial justice and a strong safety net for low-income Californians. Western Center attains real-world, policy solutions for clients through litigation, legislative and policy advocacy, and technical assistance and legal support for the state’s legal aid programs. Western Center is California’s oldest and largest legal services support center.

# # #

Contact: Vanessa Barrington
510-256-1200 direct
vbarrington@justiceinaging.org

Justice in Aging Joins Amicus Brief Urging the Supreme Court to Defend the ACA

By | Health Care, Medicaid, Medicare, PRESS RELEASE

On January 15, Justice in Aging joined AARP and the Center for Medicare Advocacy in submitting an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to expedite its review of a case challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The brief argues that the uncertainty caused by the Fifth Circuit’s decision to remand the case to the district court is harming older adults and that declaring the entire ACA unconstitutional will cause millions of older adults to lose health insurance coverage and vital consumer protections.

Several states led by Texas, along with the U.S. Department of Justice, are asking the courts to declare the entire ACA unconstitutional because Congress zeroed out the tax penalty for not complying with the law’s individual mandate to have health insurance. A federal district judge agreed and issued a ruling that the entire ACA is unconstitutional in December 2018. On appeal, the Fifth Circuit decided that the individual mandate without a penalty is unconstitutional, but remanded the decision back to the district court to review the ACA provision-by-provision to determine whether each is viable without the mandate.

Our amicus brief, filed in support of the states and the U.S. House of Representatives who are defending the ACA, demonstrates how the ACA’s critical protections and coverage expansions have improved the health and well-being of older adults, and how invalidating the ACA would disrupt the entire health care system, undermine the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and harm low-income seniors and their families. As explained in our statement on the Fifth Circuit’s decision and in our issue brief on the importance of the ACA to low-income older adults, millions of older adults and people with disabilities are alive and healthier today because the ACA enabled access to health care they couldn’t otherwise obtain.

Because of the ACA:

  • The lives of over 19,200 older adults on expanded Medicaid have been saved.
  • Seniors and people with disabilities have more opportunities to age in place and live at home, in their communities, where they want to be.
  • There is more care coordination for individuals who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid and better protections for the lowest-income seniors from illegal billing for Medicare cost-sharing.
  • Seniors have stronger protections from discrimination and a new avenue for enforcing their civil rights.
  • Medicare beneficiaries have better access to preventive services and prescription drug coverage.

If the Supreme Court is persuaded by our arguments and upholds the constitutionality of the ACA, 100 million Americans with pre-existing conditions and 13 million Americans enrolled in expanded Medicaid will be able to move on with their lives without fear of losing coverage. And we can continue to build on the progress we have made using the ACA’s tools to enhance care coordination and consumer protections for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, end discrimination, and eliminate health disparities, and achieve Justice in Aging for all.

Fact Sheet: Coverage Changes for Opioid Treatment Services for Dually Eligible Individuals

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

As of January 1, 2020, Medicare Part B covers a new Opioid Treatment Program (OTP) benefit. This means Medicare beneficiaries now have access to methadone for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in an out-patient setting, along with counseling and other opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment services delivered by a certified OTP provider.

For individuals dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, this new coverage means that Medicare is now the primary payer for these OUD treatment services. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued guidance to OTP providers, MA plans and to states to help ensure that dually eligible individuals who are currently receiving these OUD treatment services do not experience interruptions in care.

Justice in Aging’s new fact sheet describes the new OTP benefit and how it affects dually eligible individuals access to treatment for OUD. Advocates working with dually eligible individuals or other Medicare beneficiaries receiving or in need of OUD treatment services should become familiar with these changes to help clients navigate and identify any issues.

For example:

  • OTP providers and MA plans are prohibited from billing Qualified Medicare Beneficiaries (QMBs) for Medicare cost-sharing for OTP services. In addition, all people enrolled in Original Medicare should not pay any cost-sharing for OTP services once they have met their Part B deductible.
  • States, MA plans, and providers should be following guidance to ensure continuity of care for dually eligible beneficiaries who are currently receiving OTP services.
  • State Medicaid programs cannot exclude or deny coverage of transportation (NEMT) for dually eligible individuals to Medicare-covered benefits, including OTP services.

Please let us know if you observe any issues with these changes in Medicare coverage of OUD treatment services. Your feedback helps us identify systemic issues and work with CMS to resolve them.