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CA Health Network Alert

Big Budget Win in California: Vital Programs Preserved

By | CA Health Network Alert, Newsroom

Enormous Win: Advocates Beat Back Cuts to Programs for Low-Income Older Adults

Governor Newsom and the California Legislature announced yesterday that they have come to a budget agreement that will preserve the vital programs low-income older adults rely on for their health and safety. This final budget agreement preserves the critical programs that will help those most at risk from the pandemic—older Black, Latinx, and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders—access health care services they need. We thank the Governor and Legislature for preserving programs that help people access services at home and in the community so that at-risk older adults are not forced to seek care in nursing facilities, which are particularly dangerous during the pandemic.

Programs Preserved 

  • Home and Community-Based Services. The budget preserves Community-Based Adult Services (CBAS), the Multi-Purpose Senior Services Program (MSSP), and In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS). Maintaining these programs reduces the need for older adults to seek care in nursing homes or other congregate settings in which over fifty percent of all COVID-19 deaths have occurred.
  • Medi-Cal Coverage and Benefits. The budget preserves Medi-Cal coverage for seniors and people with disabilities with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level; maintains current Medi-Cal estate recovery rules; and preserves current dental and other critical Medi-Cal benefits. Unfortunately, however, the final agreement does not extend Medi-Cal coverage to undocumented seniors, leaving thousands who are at most risk during this pandemic without access to health care.
  • SSI/SSP. The budget maintains current SSI/SSP benefit levels.
  • Other Senior Programs. The budget preserves senior nutrition, caregiver resource centers, long-term care ombudsman, aging and disability resource centers, and Independent Living Centers.

While this budget agreement preserves existing programs older Californians need, without increased revenues, cuts still loom and racial inequities remain unaddressed. Justice in Aging will continue to advocate both federally and at the state level for additional revenue to ensure cuts are not made in the future and that investments are made at the state level to address the racial disparities in our institutions and programs. Today, however, we celebrate California’s preservation of existing support programs for older adults.

Fact Sheet: Budget Cuts to Programs for Low-Income Older Adults Must be Rejected – Cuts Would Disproportionately Hurt Older Adults of Color

By | CA Health Network Alert, Economic Security, FACT SHEET, Health Care, Home & Community Based Services, REPORTS

Governor Newsom’s revised budget makes deep cuts to nearly every program on which low-income older adults rely. The cuts to programs will be especially hard on older adults of color, who, because of systemic racism and discrimination, are at greater risk from COVID-19 and rely on these programs to survive. If enacted, these cuts will cause great harm to the health and economic security of the state’s low-income older adults and their families.

Last week, the state Senate rejected many of the cuts that the Governor proposed. Advocates need to continue to push back and educate legislators about the devastating impact of these cuts. A new Justice in Aging fact sheet discusses in more detail the specific harms of these cuts and their disproportionate impact on communities of color.

Free Webinar: Health Care Rights for Older Adults During COVID-19

By | CA Health Network Alert, Health Care, Medicare, WEBINAR

Older adults and people with disabilities are one of the populations most susceptible to both COVID-19 and the effects of related physical distancing mandates. Many advocates and other service providers working with older adults may have questions about the rights of older adults and the impact of COVID-19 and related relief measures on healthcare.

This free webinar, co-organized by Justice in Aging and California Health Advocates Senior Medicare Patrol, will discuss health care rights under Medicare and Medi-Cal for older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic, including increased flexibilities and requirements for Medicare Advantage, Part D and Cal MediConnect plans, the moratorium on Medi-Cal negative actions, special enrollment periods under Medicare, the impact of relief efforts on Medi-Cal benefits, guaranteed issue events for Medigap, and more.

Who should participate:
Legal services attorneys and aging and disability service providers, including HICAP staff and volunteers.

Presenters:
Denny Chan, Justice in Aging
Bonnie Burns, California Health Advocates

The webinar took place on Thursday, May 28, from 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. PT.

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

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.

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. Read More

Free Webinar: What’s Next for California’s Dual Eligibles? CalAIM and the Coordinated Care Initiative

By | CA Health Network Alert, Health Care, Medicaid, Medicare, WEBINAR, Webinar Trainings

When: Thursday, January 16, 2020 from 10 a.m.-11 a.m. PT/1-2 p.m. ET

In 2014, California’s Department of Health Care Services launched the Coordinated Care Initiative for dual eligibles in certain counties. It provided dual eligibles with an option to enroll in an integrated Medicare-Medicaid plan called Cal MediConnect. Now, California has proposed ending Cal MediConnect and transitioning to a statewide Dual Special Needs Plan (DSNP) model with managed Long-Term Services and Supports (MLTSS). It is also proposing changes to the Medi-Cal Long-Term Care benefit and the Multipurpose Senior Services Program (MSSP) and requiring dual eligibles to enroll in Medi-Cal managed care across the state. This webinar will unpack the major proposed changes that affect dual eligibles, including:

  • A brief overview of the Coordinated Care Initiative and Cal MediConnect;
  • Discussion of the major components of the CalAIM proposal that impact dual eligibles, including the D-SNP transition, mandatory Medi-Cal managed care enrollment, and changes to long-term care and MSSP, and what these changes mean to counties in and out of the Coordinated Care Initiative;
  • Areas that are ripe for advocacy based on the CalAIM proposal; and
  • How advocates and other stakeholders can provide input on the proposed changes.

Who should participate:
Advocates who work with California’s dual eligibles, individuals interested in California’s dual eligible demonstration, and other stakeholders.

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

This webinar took place on Thursday, January 16, 2020, from 10 a.m.-11 a.m. PT/ 1-2 p.m. 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. 

REGISTER FOR THE WEBINAR

Fact Sheet: Open Enrollment for 2020 Coverage through Medicare & Covered California—Basics for Advocates

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

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.

Advocates Guide: In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS)

By | Advocate's Guide, CA Health Network Alert, In-Home Supportive Services, REPORTS

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.

New Budget Boosts Health Coverage For Low-Income Californians

By | CA Health Network Alert, Health Care, IN THE NEWS, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security

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.