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Katrina Cohens

Benefits on the Line

By | IN THE NEWS, Medicare, Safety Net Defense, SENIOR POVERTY, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income

The American Prospect: Benefits on the Line (June 19, 2019)

The Trump Administration has proposed to change how inflation is calculated, moving from the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) to Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (chained CPI). This change in how poverty is measured would have drastic negative consequences for millions of low-income people, older adults, and people with disabilities. Many would become ineligible for benefits or would receive less assistance as chained CPI lowers the poverty line. Justice in Aging’s Directing Attorney Tracey Gronniger says that, “It would hurt people who are so close to getting help. All of sudden, you have hundreds of thousands of people who are told, ‘Now you’re not poor anymore.’”

FAQ: Five Frequently Asked Questions About the Health Care Rights Law and Proposed Changes

By | FACT SHEET, Health Care, Health Care Defense, LGBT, REPORTS

The Trump Administration has published a proposed rule to eliminate key nondiscrimination protections under the Health Care Rights Law (Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act) for LGBTQ seniors, people with limited English proficiency and others in health care settings. If finalized, this rule change would increase the likelihood that older adults would experience discrimination in accessing health care and make it harder for them to seek redress in the face of that discrimination.

This FAQ, “Five Frequently Asked Questions about the Health Care Rights Law and Proposed Changes,” outlines the changes including attempting to eliminate the rights of LGBTQ seniors, rolling back protections for limited English proficient (LEP) older adults, and limiting the way that victims of any type of discrimination can seek redress under the law.

Is your loved one in a nursing home? Here’s why you should be alarmed

By | ASSISTED LIVING, IN THE NEWS, Long Term Care, Nursing Homes

Los Angeles Times: Is your loved one in a nursing home? Here’s why you should be alarmed (June 11, 2019)

A congressional report publicly identified the names of nearly 400 nursing homes cited for substandard care. Prior to the report, the nursing home names had not been disclosed. Nursing home residents suffered conditions ranging from neglect, physical abuse, sexual assault to premature death. Justice in Aging’s Directing Attorney Eric Carlson said,” You’d like to think you could expect high-quality care, but that’s not the case. People should be worried — not sky-is-falling worried, but I-need-to-do-my-homework worried. You can’t take anything for granted.” The full list can be seen here.

Free Webinar: Ten Common Nursing Home Problems, and How to Resolve Them

By | Medicaid, Medicare, Nursing Homes, WEBINAR, Webinar Trainings

When: Thursday, May 30, 2019 11 am-12 pm PT/2-3 pm ET​

Federal nursing home law is meant to protect residents from poor care, discrimination, evictions and many other problems, but many nursing homes commonly follow unlawful procedures. If federal nursing home law is strong (which it is), why is the care often so poor?

Many consumers and their families don’t know the law or may be afraid to speak out about poor care due to fear of retaliation. But firm advocacy by attorneys and other advocates can make the difference. This webinar addresses common problems including evictions, overmedication, termination of Medicare coverage, discrimination against Medicaid-eligible residents, and other issues. The webinar intends to provide advocates, consumers and their friends and family members with advocacy tools to address these common problems.

The information in this webinar is based upon the recommendations in our recent guide, 25 Common Nursing Home Problems and How to Resolve Them.

Who should participate:
Legal advocates, consumers and their friends and family members.

Presenter:
Eric Carlson, Justice in Aging

WATCH THE WEBINAR
DOWNLOAD THE POWERPOINT

Justice in Aging’s Statement on Trump Administration’s Proposed Roll-back of Health Care Rights

By | Affordable Care Act, Health Care, LGBT, Safety Net Defense

Today as part of an ongoing attack on the most marginalized, the Trump Administration is proposing dangerous and far reaching changes to regulations implementing the Health Care Rights Law, Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits discrimination in healthcare. The proposal attempts to eliminate the rights of LGBTQ people. It also rolls back protections for limited English proficient (LEP) older adults, and attempts to radically limit the way that victims of any type of discrimination can seek redress under the law. By gutting the only federal law designed to protect against discrimination in health care, the move is a cruel, extremist, and transparent political attack on LGBTQ older adults, LEP seniors, and others who frequently face discrimination in accessing care.

The ACA’s Health Care Rights provision is a landmark civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, and disability in federal health programs and activities. The law includes affirmative protections for consumers and obligations on insurers and providers, as well as a new avenue for older adults and others to enforce their rights.

The proposed changes to the Health Care Rights Law will be particularly harmful for transgender older adults – one in five of whom report being refused care because of their gender status. This discrimination, which compounds over a lifetime, contributes to poorer health outcomes among transgender older adults, with one in three reporting poor physical health. By deleting references to protections based on gender identity, sexual orientation, and sex stereotyping across federal healthcare regulations, the Trump Administration’s proposal is saying transgender older adults and LGBTQ people more broadly do not have the right to receive the care they need and be treated with dignity.

In the same proposed rulemaking, the Trump Administration is also rolling back language access protections for LEP older adults by eliminating the requirement that healthcare providers affirmatively distribute notices of non-discrimination and include translated taglines in significant communications to consumers. These requirements, key to enforcing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, are critical to assist LEP communities to better understand their rights and access care.

Finally, if gutting key provisions of the existing regulations were not enough, the proposed rulemaking takes aim at the Health Care Rights Law’s enforcement structure, which would make it significantly more difficult to bring particular discrimination claims under the law.

To be clear, this proposed rule is part of a larger, strategic attack on the lives of LGBTQ and LEP older adults. The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the same agency tasked with enforcing Section 1557, recently released a final “Conscience Rights” rule that allows providers to discriminate against transgender older adults and others on religious and moral grounds and changed the OCR mission statement to emphasize conscience and religious freedom. Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security’s proposed “public charge” rule would make it nearly impossible for LEP older immigrants to enter the U.S. or become permanent residents if they are not wealthy and use or might need Medicaid or help paying for Medicare, food or housing.

Upon the proposed rule being published in the Federal Register, a 60-day public comment period will begin. In the coming weeks, Justice in Aging will provide resources, including template comments, to help advocates fight back. Now is the time to tell the Trump Administration that the lives, rights, and dignity of LGBTQ older adults, LEP seniors, and people with disabilities matter and to protect the Health Care Rights Law.

Principles of a Master Plan on Aging for all Californians

By | CA Health Network Alert, Safety Net Defense, SENIOR POVERTY, Statements

In January, Governor Newsom called for a Master Plan on Aging in his State of the State address, and concurrently members of the legislature introduced several bills aimed at addressing California’s growing aging population. The need is urgent as California’s population ages and grows poorer. California’s population of older adults is expected to almost double over the next twenty years. Today, one in five seniors in California live at or below the poverty level, with women and populations of color experiencing poverty at higher rates. Without a dedicated plan and resources to address California’s aging population, many more older adults will fall into poverty in their later years.

As lawmakers work to revise the 2020 budget this month, we urge them to direct funding toward a comprehensive Master Plan that addresses the struggles of the poorest Californians, is centered on equity, makes provision for a robust long-term care system, and is both intergenerational and intersectional.

We laid out a set of principles that we urge policymakers to consider and incorporate in the Master Plan to help those Californians who are struggling the most, and also middle class older adults, families, and all of our communities. We have the political momentum to address the needs of California’s aging population. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get it right and help all Californians age in dignity and justice.

Read the principles.

Fact Sheet: Medicaid Non-Emergency Medical Transportation for Older Adults: A Critical Benefit at Risk

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

Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) is a federally required Medicaid benefit. Within certain guidelines, each state Medicaid program is given significant discretion in crafting the NEMT benefit for Medicaid beneficiaries. This important program currently serves over 7 million Medicaid enrollees who, due to cognitive and physical changes, may have a reduced ability to drive or use public transportation. It is now under threat.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has signaled that it will propose a regulation in May 2019 to make the mandatory NEMT benefit optional for states. States could then choose to amend their Medicaid rules to eliminate or reduce the benefit.

A new Justice in Aging fact sheet provides advocates with information about why NEMT is important, how it is administered, and the current threat to this vital benefit, as well as information on where to go for more information and advocacy tips for preserving the NEMT benefit in their states.

Justice in Aging is working in coalition with partners like Community Catalyst to raise awareness about the importance of Medicaid transportation to ensure it remains a covered benefit.

Dementia Patients Wait Months For Long-Term Care In Vermont Hospitals

By | Alzheimer's & Dementia, Health Care, IN THE NEWS, In-Home Supportive Services

Vermont Public Radio: Dementia Patients Wait Months For Long-Term Care In Vermont Hospitals (April 24, 2019)

Many seniors in Vermont who suffer from dementia are waiting months, and some up to a year, in hospitals before being accepted into nursing homes. Seniors affected by long wait times also tend to qualify for Medicaid and have health conditions that call for higher staffing needs. Justice in Aging’s Directing Attorney Eric Carlson said that the state’s nursing home waits are “atypical.” And that “the level of difficulty that you’re talking about in Vermont is far above what I think the average is.” Advocates recommend increasing Medicaid’s nursing home reimbursement rate and creating specialized dementia facilities.

CMS To Extend Existing Duals Demos, Invites Other States To Join

By | Health Care, IN THE NEWS, Medicaid, Medicare

Inside Health Policy (April 24, 2019)

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has invited states that aren’t currently participating in the duals demonstration to talk with the agency about starting their own version, whether through the capitated financial alignment model, the managed fee-for-service model or some other state-specific model worked out with the agency. CMS also said it plans to allow states that are already in the demonstration to make some changes, if necessary, or to extend the ongoing-demo for multiple years. Justice in Aging attorney Georgia Burke was interviewed for the article and noted that she’s happy CMS intends to work with states to continue the ongoing demonstrations and hopefully drawing on lessons learned for new states to incorporate in their demos. She also praised CMS for encouraging multiple models, and touted CMS’ emphasis on stakeholder involvement and beneficiary protections. She also noted that passive demonstration enrollment and locking in participation are not a good idea because consumer choice is important. Justice in Aging will be looking for beneficiary ombudsman programs to be included in new demonstrations. This article is unavailable online. This is a summary.