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Katrina Cohens

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.

Legal Help – Aging Matters

By | IN THE NEWS, Safety Net Defense

Nashville Public Television: Aging Matters (April 18, 2019)

The need for legal assistance is high for older adults. Many find accessing affordable legal aid difficult. Watch the video above to learn more about how legal aid organizations provide older adults with the legal help they need to age with dignity and support. Justice in Aging’s Deputy Director Jennifer Goldberg and Staff Attorney Fay Gordon are featured in the video.

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.

More Women Growing Old Poor In Phoenix, Mirroring National Trend

By | Economic Security, Health Care, IN THE NEWS, Safety Net Defense, SENIOR POVERTY

KJZZ Public Radio: More Women Growing Old Poor In Phoenix, Mirroring National Trend (April 17, 2019)

The rate of women 55 and older experiencing homelessness is on the rise in  Phoenix, Arizona. Shelters are serving more and more older women, following national trends. Justice in Aging’s Executive Director Kevin Prindiville states that “we’re seeing a very disturbing trend of individuals that lived middle-class lifestyles when they were working age, becoming poor for the first time when they’re older — and that’s a shift.” Contributing factors include a gender wage gap, domestic abuse, a “motherhood penalty,” and caretaking responsibilities. These factors are compounded by race, sexuality, and/or gender identity. Strengthening existing social programs like improving access to SNAP and expanding 401(k) participation to part-time employees would provide the support older women need to age in dignity.

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

A Dental Benefit in Medicare: Examining the Need in California

By | CA Health Network Alert, IN THE NEWS, Medicare, Oral Health

California Dental Association: A Dental Benefit in Medicare: Examining the Need in CA (copyright April 2019)

Justice in Aging’s Executive Director Kevin Prindiville and Director of Health Team Amber Christ co-authored this paper that discusses the oral health care need of California’s older adults. Lack of access to affordable and comprehensive dental coverage has resulted in California’s older adults having a high prevalence of oral disease. The addition of a comprehensive dental benefit to Medicare Part B would help lower the rates of oral disease.

CMS Considering Regulation For D-SNP Look-Alike Plans

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

Inside Health Policy (April 3, 2019)

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is considering regulating duals special needs plan look-alikes because they get in the way of state efforts to integrate Medicaid and Medicare services through Medicare-Medicaid Plans or D-SNPs and are confusing for beneficiaries. The agency asked for advocates’ feedback on the impact of the D-SNP look-alikes—which don’t have to follow D-SNP requirements—on integration, beneficiary choice, competition, state Medicaid policy and other areas.

In a call letter CMS said state commenters were unanimous in saying that D-SNP look-alikes get in the way of the comments reinforce that the proliferation of D-SNP look-alike plans impedes progress toward developing products that meaningfully integrate Medicare and Medicaid benefits for dually eligible individuals. Justice in Aging attorney Georgia Burke was interviewed for the article and said, “we are pleased CMS has identified that the look-alikes are impeding progress toward integrating Medicare and Medicaid benefits and we hope CMS moves quickly to rein in the look-alikes.”

Lawsuit over observation status, SNF payment finally going to trial

By | IN THE NEWS, LITIGATION, Medicare

McKnight’s Long-Term Care News: Lawsuit over observation status, SNF payment finally going to trial (March 29, 2019)

A lawsuit, co-counseled by Justice in Aging, may go to trial which could have significant implication for providers and patients. The lawsuit involves a group of individuals having to pay out of pocket for skilled nursing facility care because Medicare would not cover it. The patients received needed care but were classified as under “observation status” and were not formerly admitted as inpatients resulting in large medical bills.

Court Denies All Government Motions in Class Action Seeking Appeal Right for Medicare Beneficiaries on “Observation Status”

By | News Releases, Newsroom, PRESS RELEASE
In a decision issued on March 27, 2019, a federal judge denied multiple attempts by the federal government to halt a lawsuit by Medicare patients seeking a right to appeal their placement on “outpatient observation status” in hospitals. Alexander v. Azar is a 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, rather than as inpatients. Read More