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IN THE NEWS

Medicare Doesn’t Cover Dental Care. For Many Florida Seniors, That’s a Problem

By | Health Equity, IN THE NEWS, Medicare, Oral Health, Uncategorized

Miami Herald: Medicare Doesn’t Cover Dental Care. For Many Florida Seniors, That’s a Problem (December 20, 2019)

Spotty coverage — combined with high oral health costs — means many older adults like Domínguez and Morejón, the two people discussed in this story, have no path to getting dental care. According to Justice in Aging, a national non-profit legal advocacy organization, only half of all 60 million Medicare beneficiaries saw a dental provider in the past year. “When we speak with older adults, lack of access to dental care is very much top of mind for them,” said Jennifer Goldberg, Justice in Aging’s Deputy Director. “And that lack of access to dental coverage has a disparate impact on populations of color.”

Dozens of Senior Care Homes That Broke Labor Laws Continue to Get Medicaid Funds

By | IN THE NEWS, Medicaid, Nursing Homes

Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting: Dozens of Senior Care Homes That Broke Labor Laws Continue to Get Medicaid Funds (December 14, 2019)

This story is the fourth in an investigative series about wage theft and worker exploitation in Medicaid-funded board and care homes in California, Florida, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Companies may be prohibited from collecting Medicaid if they have been convicted of Medicare or Medicaid fraud or patient abuse or neglect, among other offenses. However, the federal agency that administers Medicaid – the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services – does not police whether senior care-home operators comply with wage and hour laws. “Medicaid certification is a privilege, not a right, and payment should depend upon complying with relevant laws,” said Eric Carlson, a directing attorney at Justice in Aging. “Underpaying employees is a red flag for health care quality.” This story also appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Seattle Times, US news and World Report, and the San Diego Union Tribune.

Trump Administration Proposes Social Security Rule Changes that Could Cut off Thousands of Disabled Recipients

By | IN THE NEWS, Supplemental Security Income

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Trump Administration Proposes Social Security Rule Changes that Could Cut off Thousands of Disabled Recipients (December 12, 2019)

The Trump administration is proposing changes to Social Security that could terminate disability payments to hundreds of thousands of Americans, particularly older people and children. The new rule would change they way they classify people with disabilities and institute more frequent disability determinations, pushing more people into an already overloaded system, and slowing it down for everyone. The ultimate result will be people losing benefits, particularly people 50-65 years old. Justice in Aging attorney Kate Lang said, “they’re out to shrink the rolls. And they’re setting people up to not comply.”

In AEP Home Stretch, CMS Grapples with Plan Finder “Glitches”

By | Health Care, IN THE NEWS, Medicare

AIS Health: In AEP Home Stretch, CMS Grapples with Plan Finder “Glitches” (December 5, 2019) RADAR on Medicare Advantage

Despite a major overhaul to the Medicare Plan Finder (MPF) that was readied in time for the Annual Election Period ending on Dec. 7, multiple reports at press time indicated that the online tool was providing inaccurate cost estimates for users, especially relating to prescription drugs. In a blog post responding to the reports, CMS said it stands by the accuracy of the tool, but it acknowledged that it has been making updates to the MPF as issues are flagged, giving weight to consumer advocates’ concerns that CMS did not allow enough time for testing the tool before rolling it out.

“At the outset, CMS did not provide enough time to test the functionality of the tool, which has led to ‘testing in real time’ with real ramifications to Medicare beneficiaries and their ability to access care,” said Directing Attorney, Amber Christ. This article is behind a paywall, but the publisher, allowed us to reprint it. Click below to read the full story.

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Many Enrolled in California Healthcare Plan Lack Interpretation Services, Surveys Show

By | DUAL DEMONSTRATIONS, DUAL ELIGIBLES, IN THE NEWS, Language Access, Medicaid, Medicare

The Sacramento Bee: Many Enrolled in California Healthcare Plan Lack Interpretation Services, Surveys Show (November 6, 2019)

Half of the non-English speaking people enrolled in Cal MediConnect reported they could never get a medical interpreter when they needed one, according to a survey conducted by San Francisco State University. Currently, Cal MediConnect is a pilot program that coordinates care for dual eligibles in seven California counties. However, a similar program will be rolled out that requires all of California’s dual eligibles to receive care through managed care plans. This new program is called CalAim. “Our experience in Cal MediConnect can be used to predict where potential language access barriers might be in this new model ‘CalAim’,” said Denny Chan, senior staff attorney at Justice in Aging. “Sooner or later, this will affect all duals across California. The agencies want to move people to managed care plans across the state, so it is important for us to make sure these problems don’t continue.”

Retirement Home Had Bedbugs. It’s Closing. But Could Residents End up Somewhere Worse?

By | IN THE NEWS, Nursing Homes

Miami Herald: Retirement Home Had Bedbugs. It’s Closing. But Could Residents End up Somewhere Worse? (October 31, 2019)

Residents of a Florida retirement home with a history of issues learned suddenly that the home was closing and they’d be moved elsewhere, but they were given no choice or information about where they were moving. This is a common problem according to Justice in Aging attorney, Eric Carlson. “Facilities will just kind of send people out and that is inappropriate,” he said. “You are deciding where you live. It is a big deal. And that should be based on what the person wants, not on what is most convenient for the professionals and facility people who are involved in this process.”

New Federal Warning Flags Abuse at 3 Louisiana Nursing Homes

By | IN THE NEWS, Nursing Homes

New Orleans Times Picayune: New Federal Warning Flags Abuse at 3 Louisiana Nursing Homes (October 24, 2019)

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has rolled out a warning system on its Nursing Home Compare site to alert consumers to nursing homes that the agency has cited for abuse. This story focuses on the three nursing facilities in Louisiana that display the warning. Even though the symbol doesn’t provide further information about what types of abuse the nursing facilities were cited for, Justice in Aging attorney Eric Carlson noted that it’s an important first step to give consumers information. “These are documented findings of abuse and it’s important that prospective residents be aware of that,” he said.

W & M Eyes Rx Savings to add Part B Benefits, GOP Would Hike Trust Fund

By | Health Care, IN THE NEWS, Medicare

Inside Health Policy: W&M Eyes Rx Savings To Add Part B Benefits, GOP Would Hike Trust Fund (October 22, 2019)

The House Ways & Means Committee passed legislation to add vision, hearing and dental benefits to Medicare Part B. Justice in Aging is in support of this legislation because these benefits are necessary for Medicare recipients to be able to afford to pay for the care they need. Jennifer Goldberg, Justice in Aging’s Deputy Director, was interviewed for this article in which she shared Justice in Aging’s view that adding these benefits to Part B would be consistent with the growing recognition that oral health care should be more fully integrated into overall health, both in Medicare and more broadly, and that doing so will not impact the Medicare Trust Fund. Justice in Aging sent a letter to Ways & Means and the House Energy & Commerce Committee in strong support of H.R. 3. This article is behind a paywall. This is a summary.

Look-Alike Medicare Plans Have Regulators Rethinking New Rules

By | IN THE NEWS, Medicare

Bloomberg Law: Look-Alike Medicare Plans Have Regulators ReThinking New Rules (October 17, 2019)

Low-income individuals who are dually eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid are being targeted by private “look-alike” plans that imitate Dual Eligible Special Needs Plans (D-SNPS) and promise extra benefits, but often don’t deliver and can expose enrollees to extra costs. Justice in Aging Directing Attorney Amber Christ was interviewed for the article, in which she stated, “So they sign up thinking that they’re getting something more, but what ends up happening is because there’s no coordination [between Medicare and Medicaid], they end up getting billed for services that they would have gotten free under the Medicaid program. There’s just an increased risk for that kind of improper billing to happen.”

The CMS had proposed new restrictions on marketing the look-alike plans but has walked away from the proposal, saying in an April letter that some Medicare Advantage plans felt look-alikes have a “legitimate place in the Medicare Advantage marketplace in areas where there are no DSNPs.” This article is behind a paywall. This is a summary.

Thousands of California Seniors are one Disaster Away from Homelessness. What can the State do?

By | IN THE NEWS, SENIOR POVERTY

USA Today: Thousands of California Seniors are one Disaster Away from Homelessness: What can the State do? (October 2, 2019)

Over 40,000 people age 65 and older were homeless in 2017, many of them in California. Older adults on fixed incomes are especially vulnerable to homelessness in California, due to the state’s shortage of appropriate, affordable housing. This USA Today story featured older adults experiencing homelessness in California, as well as  advocates offering recommendations for solutions to the crisis. Justice in Aging Executive Director, Kevin Prindiville, talked about why so many older adults are experiencing homelessness right now, noting the racial wealth gap is one reason so many older adults of color are experiencing homelessness.