Category

ISSUE BRIEF

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

Issue Brief: Cal MediConnect-Unmet Need and Great Opportunity in

By | Health Care, ISSUE BRIEF, Medicaid, mltss

CalMediConnect, launched in 2014, is California’s dual eligible demonstration and seeks to integrate Medicare and Medicaid benefits under one health plan. One of its purposes is to better meet the needs of dual eligibles by increasing access to long-term services and supports (LTSS) and providing other value-added services, known in the demonstration as Care Plan Options (CPO). However, evaluation data and beneficiary experience indicate that more can be done to provide care for dual eligibles enrolled in the program. Justice in Aging recently obtained data via a Public Records Act request from California’s Department of Health Care Services that includes LTSS referrals and the number and type of CPO services plans are providing members.

Our issue brief, Cal MediConnect: Unmet Need and Great Opportunity in California’s Dual Eligible Demonstration, provides a brief overview of the Cal MediConnect program and examines the health plan referral data for LTSS and CPO services obtained through the Public Records Act request. It concludes with recommendations for policymakers on ways to strengthen Cal MediConnect through improving access to LTSS and CPO services. These recommendations are of interest to those following Cal MediConnect as well as advocates and stakeholders in other states with their own dual eligible demonstrations.

Read the brief.

Issue Brief: Creating an Oral Health Benefit in Medicare

By | ISSUE BRIEF, Medicare, Oral Health, REPORTS

Fewer than half of older adults have access to oral health care each year. One in five older adults has untreated tooth decay and 70 percent have gum disease. Poor oral health and lack of access to health care are even more acute for low-income seniors, seniors of color, and rural seniors. Because oral health is an integral part of overall health and untreated dental problems can cause and/or exacerbate other serious health issues, it is critical to expand older adults’ access to oral health care.

Because all older adults rely on Medicare for their health care needs, integrating oral health benefits into Medicare Part B is the most effective way to deliver comprehensive benefits to all Medicare beneficiaries. Justice in Aging’s statutory analysis shows how such a benefit could be structured and where statutory language could be changed to accommodate such a benefit.

Read the Brief

Issue Brief: Medicaid Work Requirements and Family Caregivers

By | Health Care, Health Care Defense, ISSUE BRIEF, Medicaid, REPORTS, Safety Net Defense, SENIOR POVERTY

Medicaid Work Requirements can cause family caregivers to lose their health coverage, putting their health and the health of the older adults they care for in jeopardy.

With Thanksgiving on the horizon, our thoughts are on families and the 40 million family caregivers who provide care to an adult family member. Medicaid is an important source of health insurance coverage for those family caregivers who do not have access to other affordable coverage options. However, many states are in the process of designing or implementing policies that require family caregivers and others who are eligible for Medicaid to work a certain number of hours per month or qualify for an exemption to maintain their health coverage.

Implications for family caregivers

Low-income family caregivers may be unable to work sufficient hours at a paid job because of their caregiving responsibilities and may not qualify for the state’s exemptions. As a result, many will lose access to health care they need to maintain their own health, harming both their own well-being and the well-being of the older adults they care for.

A new Justice in Aging issue brief provides a state-by-state survey of how Medicaid work requirements apply to family caregivers and explains the harms they will cause to family caregivers and the older adults they care for.

READ THE BRIEF

Issue Brief: Medicaid Enrollees Put at Risk When State Medicaid Programs Assume Support from Family Caregivers

By | Health Care, Health Care Defense, ISSUE BRIEF, Medicaid

A new Issue Brief reveals how states’ assumptions often deprive Medicaid recipients of needed assistance.

Under Medicaid law, all assistance by friends and family members must be voluntary. This brief, based on a review of over 100 administrative decisions in several states, shows how Medicaid programs violate this law to the detriment of people on Medicaid. Medicaid programs often deny services based on family assistance that is not available. This puts lives at risk, increases the chances that a beneficiary will have to be institutionalized, and forces families to make impossible choices between caring for a family member and going to work.

The issue brief outlines states’ responsibility to respect the voluntary nature of assistance, examines how some states approach the issue, and suggests public policy responses to ensure that states authorize adequate assistance.

Rachel Gershon, of the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Center for Health Law and Economics co-authored this paper with Justice in Aging attorney, Eric Carlson. The paper is part of a post-fellowship project with Justice in Aging and the Borchard Foundation Center on Law and Aging. 

White Paper: An Oral Health Benefit in Medicare Part B: It’s Time to Include Oral Health in Health Care

By | Health Equity, ISSUE BRIEF, Medicare, Oral Health

Oral health is an integral part of overall health. Oral health problems can adversely affect one’s ability to maintain optimal nutrition, self-image, social interactions, and mental and physical health. Oral health problems can lead to chronic pain, tooth loss and serious infections. Poor oral health can even worsen chronic medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

Older adults need timely and affordable access to dental care in order to maintain their health and well-being, yet, there is currently no mechanism for most older adults to access care. Contrary to what many believe, Medicare does not include an oral health benefit. Most older adults cannot afford to purchase private oral health insurance or pay out-of-pocket for the care they need. As a result, 70 percent of Medicare recipients have limited or no dental coverage, and fewer than half see a dentist each year.

A new White Paper, An Oral Health Benefits in Medicare Part B: It’s Time to Include Oral Health in Health Care discusses how a Medicare Part B dental benefit would close disparities in dental use and expense between the uninsured and insured and among older adults with few financial resources and limited oral health education. The paper also details how such a benefit could be structured and the legislative changes that would need to happen before such a benefit could be established.

Oral Health for Older Adults in California: Advocacy Guide

By | Advocate's Guide, Health Care, ISSUE BRIEF, Oral Health

New Advocacy Guide: Oral Health for Older Adults in California

Oral health affects overall health – this is particularly true for older adults. Yet, access to oral health treatment is limited and complicated by factors such as lack of dental coverage, complicated rules, and lack of dental providers. To assist California advocates in connecting their clients with oral health treatment, Justice in Aging has developed an Advocacy Guide for Oral Health for Older Adults in California.

The Guide includes a summary with advocacy tips on the following topics:

  • Why oral health matters
  • The state of oral health for older adults in California today
  • Health insurance coverage options for older adults including Medicare, Denti-Cal, and other forms of coverage
  • Unique barriers sub-populations of older adults encounter in accessing oral health including dual eligibles and nursing facility residents
  • Treatment alternatives for individuals without dental coverage
  • Additional resources

It is our intention that this Guide will help advocates navigate the system and empower them to identify and address systemic barriers to care.

Visit Justice in Aging’s Oral Health page for additional resources and help us celebrate #OralHealthMonth by forwarding this resource to your networks.

Supporting Older Americans’ Basic Needs: Health Care, Income, Housing and Food

By | FACT SHEET, Health Care, Health Care Defense, ISSUE BRIEF, Medicaid, Medicare, SENIOR POVERTY, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income

Older adults and their families strive each day to pay for health care and medicine, keep food on the table, have a roof over their heads, and have enough cash on hand to pay the utilities, get where they need to go and meet other basic needs. As families work together to meet these challenges, they are supported by a broad range of federal programs that provide Americans with the means to thrive as they grow older and remain at home and in their communities.

This issue brief discusses how these various programs work, who is eligible for them, and how they support the health and economic well-being of older Americans. For a quick overview, check out the fact sheet.

SSI 101: A Guide for Advocates

By | Advocate's Guide, Economic Security, ISSUE BRIEF, Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)—a need-based program administered by the Social Security Administration – provides a very basic income to over 8.2 million people, including 2.2 million seniors age 65+. As more seniors struggle to make ends meet in today’s economy, getting access to SSI can help low-income seniors escape deep poverty and avoid or move out of homelessness. Justice in Aging’s Supplemental Security Income 101: A Guide for Advocates introduces advocates and individuals who provide assistance to older adults to the SSI program and focuses on the basics of the program for those who qualify based on age (65 years or older).

Released today, the Guide includes:

  • A description of the SSI program and benefits
  • An overview of the application and appeals processes
  • A discussion of key eligibility criteria, including examples

And in case you missed our SSI Basics webinar last month, the video is now available.

Advance Beneficiary Notices, Administrative Fees, and Dual Eligibles

By | ISSUE BRIEF, Medicare

Federal law prohibits charging Qualified Medicare Beneficiaries (QMBs) with Medicare cost-sharing for covered services. Depending on state law, other beneficiaries who are fully eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid–full benefit dual eligibles–may also be protected from being billed for co-payments or other forms of cost sharing.

However, QMBs and other dual eligibles may still be responsible for certain charges or fees. A new Justice in Aging Issue Brief: Advance Beneficiary Notices, Administrative Fees, and Dual Eligibles explains for advocates the situations under which these types of beneficiaries may be responsible for charges.

Read the brief to learn what protections QMBs have and what charges they may have to pay.

Additional Justice in Aging resources on improper billing can be found here.