Justice in Aging has updated our California fact sheet that provide the essential information advocates for older adults need to know about this year’s open enrollment periods for both Medicare and the Affordable Care Act Marketplaces. Changes consumers make to either their Medicare or Marketplace coverage during open enrollment will take effect January 1, 2020.
The In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program is a Medi-Cal program in California that pays for in-home care for people with disabilities, including children, adults, and seniors. The purpose of this vital program is to provide services and supports that help people remain safely in their homes and living in the community.
Justice in Aging is releasing a new Advocates Guide about the IHSS program for advocates and individuals who provide assistance to older adults, children, and adults with disabilities. Written with significant support from Disability Rights California, the guide provides in-depth information about the IHSS program and is divided into eight chapters:
- IHSS Program Overview;
- Eligibility and Applying for IHSS;
- Medi-Cal Programs and IHSS;
- IHSS Services Overview;
- Types of Services;
- IHSS Providers;
- Post-Eligibility Issues;
- and Appeals and Hearings.
Kaiser Health News: New Budget Boosts Health Coverage For Low-Income Californians (June 25, 2019)
California’s new state budget for 2019-20 includes funds that will help about 25,000 low income older adults and people with disabilities get full Medi-Cal coverage. In the past, older adults had to meet stricter requirements to qualify for Medi-Cal than adults under 65. Regarding the past eligibility rules, Justice in Aging’s Directing Attorney Amber Christ said, “We call this the senior penalty, because basically you’re being penalized with a stricter eligibility limit based fully on your age or disability.” The new budget will also restore five areas of Medi-Cal coverage: audiology, optical services, podiatry, incontinence supplies and speech therapy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- AB 683 – Medi-Cal Assets Test Fact Sheet
- AB 715 – Fact Sheet
- AB 1088 – (Wood) Medi-Cal Yo-Yo Fact Sheet
- AB 1042 (Wood) Home Upkeep Allowance
We will keep advocates updated as these and other proposals move through the process.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued new rules that limit enrollment and disenrollment from Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans for low-income Medicare beneficiaries. Previously, dual eligibles – individuals with Medicare and Medi-Cal coverage – and beneficiaries who receive the low-income subsidy (LIS) to make Part D prescription drug coverage more affordable could make enrollment changes any time throughout the year. The new rule, which became effective January 1, 2019, limits enrollment changes to once per quarter.
Justice in Aging has created a factsheet that explains these changes in detail and how they impact low-income Medicare beneficiaries in California.
Advocates are preparing to respond to a new “public charge” rule from the Trump Administration that would put immigration status at risk if an immigrant seeks access to an array of programs that support health, nutrition, and economic stability.
If implemented, this rule would harm older immigrants, their families, and caregivers. The rule would make it much more difficult for U.S. citizens and residents to welcome aging parents or other family members into the country. Seniors and their families may be afraid to go to the doctor or get helping paying for food or rent. Additionally, many immigrant older adults work as caregivers for very low pay. This rule would make it harder for them to access benefits like Medicaid and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).
Justice in Aging has a new fact sheet that provides an overview of the harms to older adults, their families, and caregivers that the Trump Administration’s changes to the “public charge” rule pose. A California fact sheet provides an overview of these harms looking at California-specific data and programs.
The Coordinated Care Initiative (CCI)—including California’s dual eligible demonstration project Cal MediConnect—is well underway in all seven CCI counties including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Mateo, and Santa Clara. There have been significant changes to the CCI since the release of Version Five of Justice in Aging’s Advocates Guide to California’s Coordinated Care Initiative in October 2016.
Released today, Version Six of the Guide includes:
- A description of new and updated CCI policies
- Additional advocacy tips
- Evaluation results and new resources
If you have saved or printed Version Five, please replace it with Version Six, because the former now contains outdated information.
If you missed the webinar, Coordinated Care Initiative: 2017 Update, the video is now available.