House Passes Groundbreaking Drug Pricing Legislation that Adds a Dental Benefit to Medicare & Protects Low-Income Seniors

By | Medicare, NEWS

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act (H.R. 3). This legislation takes on meaningful drug pricing reform to make momentous improvements to the Medicare program, protect low-income seniors and people with disabilities, and help older adults and families across America afford their medications.

By empowering the Secretary of Health & Human Services to negotiate drug prices on behalf of the Medicare program, H.R. 3 would make prescription drugs more affordable and generate over $450 billion in savings. The bill reinvests those substantial savings in Medicare to provide 60 million seniors and people with disabilities with dental, vision, and hearing services for the first time in the program’s nearly 55-year history. These are tangible and greatly needed benefits that will help reduce health disparities. For example, nearly 2 out of 3 people with Medicare do not currently have any dental coverage and staggering numbers have not been to a dentist in the past year: 71% of black beneficiaries, 65% of Hispanic beneficiaries, 62% of beneficiaries under age 65 with disabilities, and 59% of beneficiaries living in rural areas.

H.R. 3 would also make important progress towards better ensuring Medicare beneficiaries with limited income and resources can afford to use their coverage. It expands the Qualified Medicare Beneficiary program to individuals with incomes up to 150% of the federal poverty level and expands the Part D Low-Income Subsidy (LIS) to individuals with incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty level. These expansions would save beneficiaries thousands of dollars each year, easing their budgets and helping them keep a roof over their head and food on the table.

Read more about what H.R. 3 does to improve access to Medicare for low-income older adults and people with disabilities in our letter of endorsement.

Medicare Races to Fix Flaw in New Tool that Lets Millions of Seniors find Cheap Drug Plans

By | IN THE NEWS, Medicare, NEWS, Newsroom

Boston Globe: Medicare Races to Fix Flaw in New Tool that Let’s Millions of Seniors Find Cheap Drug Plans (September 10, 2019)

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released its new Medicare Plan Finder on August 27. The Plan Finder is an important tool for 45 million Medicare beneficiaries during the annual enrollment period. Advocates are concerned that the Plan Finder makes it more difficult for users to evaluate the costs of their drugs and other services in relation to the costs of their overall plans, among other problems with the plan, and could lead to users choosing a plan that is not the best one for them. Justice in Aging is mentioned in this story as one of the four advocacy groups who sent a letter to Medicare Administrator, Seema Verna, expressing concern about the Plan Finder.

Older Californians and State of the State


San Francisco Bay Times: Older Californians and State of the State (February 22, 2019)

This article discusses California’s rising older adult population and CA Governor Newsom’s plan to support them. Newsom’s Master Plan aims to restore and expand services for older adults and adults with disabilities. The article cites statistics from Justice in Aging’s Older Women and Poverty report including, older adults in poverty, or on the brink of poverty, overwhelmingly are women, women of color, and LGBTQ women. Read the full article.

CMS set to roll back nursing home arbitration ban


Politico Pro: CMS set to roll back nursing home arbitration ban (February 13, 2019)

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, CMS, is reversing a rule that would have made it easier for nursing home residents to sue nursing homes. The rule would allow nursing home facilities to require nursing home residents or their families to settle complaints through arbitration instead of litigation. Consumer advocates argue that arbitration agreements are often unjust and force residents to give up negligence or abuse lawsuits.

“No nursing home resident or agent is making a truly voluntary decision to choose arbitration at the time of admission to a nursing facility,” said Justice in Aging’s Directing Attorney Eric Carlson. “People are under tremendous amount of pressure at that point, and they’re not in a position to make decisions about future dispute resolution procedures.” The article is behind a paywall. This is a summary.

AARP, other national groups challenge Kentucky’s Medicaid waiver


Insider Louisville: AARP, other national groups challenge Kentucky’s Medicaid waiver (January 30, 2019)

Justice in Aging, along with AARP and the AARP Foundation, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, has jointly filed a brief that illuminates the harm of Kentucky’s Medicaid overhaul called the Kentucky HEALTH program. Kentucky’s older adults are more likely to be negatively impacted with the program’s rules and penalties, which includes a required 80 hours of  work related activities completed per month and the termination of non-emergency medical transportation benefits for some beneficiaries. A handful of other health-related groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and others, wrote a separate friend of the court brief. Read the full article.

AARP Celebrates Asian American & Pacific Islander Hero Award Winner Denny Chan of Justice in Aging


The Indian Panorama News: AARP Celebrates Asian American & Pacific Islander Hero Award Winner Denny Chan of Justice in Aging (January 27, 2019)

Justice in Aging’s Denny Chan was awarded AARP’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Hero Award on January 23rd. He works on behalf of older adults, especially those with limited English proficiency.

“Older AAPI adults living in or at risk of poverty not only are one unexpected expense away from homelessness or one fall away from a hospital visit, but they also face a complex health care system made up of people who don’t necessarily speak their language,” said Denny Chan. Read the full article.

Older Immigrants’ Access to Basic Needs Programs is at Risk

By | IN THE NEWS, NEWS, Newsroom, SENIOR POVERTY Older Immigrants’ Access to Basic Needs Programs at Risk

By Justice in Aging Attorneys Denny Chan and Natalie Keen
When Mary immigrated to San Francisco from the Philippines over 30 years ago, she long dreamed of growing old here surrounded by her children and grandchildren. That dream appeared to be coming true when she happily retired last year at the age of 70, knowing that the process was already underway to welcome her son and his family, currently based in Manila, to join her in California – they had already been waiting for many years.

Unfortunately, however, Mary’s dream would be jeopardized if the Trump Administration succeeds in changing the longstanding “public charge” policy. Read The Full Article.


How to Access Care for a Senior Who Doesn’t Speak English

By | Health Care, Health Equity, IN THE NEWS, NEWS How to Access Care for a Senior Who Doesn’t Speak English (Aug. 2, 2018) For older adults who don’t speak English, accessing the health care they need can be difficult. However, seniors have the legal right to interpretation and translation services from health care providers that receive federal dollars through a provision of the Affordable Care Act. The problem is, seniors often do not know they have this right or how to exercise it. Justice in Aging attorney, Denny Chan lays out for this article what rights LEP seniors have, while the adult day care provider, On Lok Lifeways, offers a good illustration of what culturally competent care for seniors with limited English can look like. “It’s an anxious time for people who don’t speak English as their primary language because there’s been a number of efforts to chip away at the protections they have,” said Chan. Read the full article.