Enthusiasm and Partnerships Overcome the Vastness of Alaska for Healthcare Enrollment (National Minority Health Month)

In recognition of National Minority Health Month, the Diverse Elders Coalition is featuring stories relevant to the health disparities and health issues affecting diverse older adults during April. A new story will be shared every Wednesday with additional posts shared throughout the month. Be sure to visit diverseelders.org regularly during the month of April.

The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) has a bold vision: to ensure that Alaska Native people are the healthiest people in the world. By working to ensure that all Alaska Native and American Indians in Alaska have health insurance, the ANTHC is helping to eliminate long entrenched health disparities. ANTHC was formed almost 20 years ago as a nonprofit health organization that offers quality health care services for all Alaska Natives and American Indians.

Monique Martin - ANTHC Healthcare Navigator

Monique Martin – ANTHC Healthcare Navigator

Recently, the National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA) spoke with Monique Martin, a dedicated healthcare navigator for ANTHC. Growing up in Southeast Alaska gave Monique insight on the best ways to communicate with Alaska Native/American Indian elders across the state. She has traveled the land, teaching about the Affordable Care Act, enrolling and sharing what she knows.

Partnerships were formed with other organizations that had a shared vision to help in tackling the task. The United Way of Anchorage, AARP, Alaska Primary Care Association and the Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center all came together to spread the word about the Affordable Care Act.

Monique said that when they started there was a general lack of information and citizens were seeking a source for reliable, unbiased information. ANTHC has become that source with a content-rich website that has an authentic “Alaska feel”. To make sure the educational materials had that crucial “Alaska feel” they made everything as Alaska Native specific as possible. They took generic PowerPoint slides and took out anything that did not apply to Alaska. They added pictures that reflected the people they were speaking with. They stuck with plain language. For example, instead of the phrase “shared responsibility”; they used the term “tax penalty”. The result was that the message felt like it was coming from your neighbor, someone you know. Personalizing the message makes it more real and more believable. Read More Read More

HHS announces important Medicare information for people in same-sex marriages

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the Social Security Administration (SSA) is now able to process requests for Medicare Part A and Part B Special Enrollment Periods, and reductions in Part B and premium Part A late enrollment penalties for certain eligible people in same-sex marriages. This is another step HHS is taking in response to the June 26, 2013 Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v. Windsor, which held section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. Because of this ruling, Medicare is no longer prevented by DOMA from recognizing same-sex marriages for determining entitlement to, or eligibility, for Medicare.

“Today’s announcement helps to clarify the effects of the Supreme Court’s decision and to ensure that all married couples are treated equally under the law,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “We are working together with SSA to process these requests in a timely manner to ensure all beneficiaries, regardless of sexual orientation, are treated fairly under the law.”

While Medicare is managed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), SSA is responsible for determining eligibility for, and enrolling people in, Medicare.

For additional information, please visit: http://medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans/same-sex-marriage.html.

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A Video Review of Native American HIV/AIDS Issues

March 20 is National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NNHAAD). NNHAAD is a national effort to raise awareness about how HIV/AIDS affects American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) and Native Hawaiian people and to promote testing.

An Overview

  • HIV infection affects AI/AN in ways that are not always apparent because of their small population size.
  • The rate of HIV infection is 30 percent higher and the rate of AIDS is 50 percent higher among AI/AN compared with white Americans, according to HHS’ Office of Minority Health.
  • Compared with other races/ethnicities, AI/AN have poorer survival rates after an HIV diagnosis.
  • AI/AN face special HIV prevention challenges, including poverty and culturally based stigma.

The following five videos give us a window into the HIV/AIDS crisis facing Native Americans.

Recognizing and Combatting Stigma: HIV & AIDS Impacting Indian Country

Advocating for Tribal HIV/AIDS Education and Legislation: A Success Story

Read More Read More

Aging in America 2014: Health Reform Advocacy and Engagement in Communities of Color and LGBT Communities

Will you be joining the 3,000 engaged aging professionals and experts March 11-15, 2014 in Sunny San Diego for the ASA Aging in America 2014 conference?

Interested in exploring best practices and learning about successful advocacy and engagement tactics to better engage older adults of color and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) elders around the Affordable Care Act and their health?

Yes? Join us Friday March 14, 2014 from 1-2:30pm for a presentation entitled Health Reform Advocacy and Engagement in Communities of Color and LGBT Communities. Leading experts from our nation’s diverse aging organizations will be on hand to share lessons learned, opportunities and challenges within their communities in accessing the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and living full and healthy lives. Speakers include:

  • Introduction from Christine Takada, President & CEO of the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA)
  • Bryan Pacheco, National Coordinator of the Diverse Elders Coalition
  • Randella Bluehouse, Executive Director of the National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA)
  • Robert Espinoza, Senior Director of Public Policy & Communications of Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)
  • Jason Coates, Policy Associate of the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA)

As contested and contentious issues go, the American Society on Aging knows there is no hotter topic than the Affordable Care Act. As the ACA approaches its fourth anniversary, it remains a dominant policy and political issue. It is a landmark and transformational law providing first-time access to healthcare for millions, promising reforms in healthcare delivery under Medicare and promoting elder justice in America. At the Diverse Elders Coalition, we know that the ACA has the ability to create a path to better health by offering more affordable health insurance options, improving services and eliminating the usual obstacles. Join us!

AT A GLANCE:

Health Reform Advocacy and Engagement in Communities of Color and LGBT Communities
Friday, March 14, 2014: 01:00 PM – 02:30 PM
Room: Cortez Hill B (3rd floor, Seaport Tower)
Event Format: 90-minute Workshop
Event Category: Policy & Advocacy — Healthcare Reform
Book Code: FR345

Creative Approach Leads to Success in Enrolling American Indians and Alaska Natives in the New Mexico Health Insurance Marketplace

Recently, the National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA) spoke with Roxane Spruce Bly, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna, who has been leading the ACA outreach and enrollment effort for American Indian/Alaska Natives (AI/AN) in New Mexico. Ms. Spruce Bly brings invaluable experience in the field of health policy research, analysis, and development. She is the Director of Healthcare Education and Outreach for Native American Professional Parent Resources (NAPPR), Inc. NAPPR is one of two navigator entities in New Mexico.

Roxane Spruce Bly

Roxane Spruce Bly

She reflects that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) got off to a rocky start but her team turned that barrier into an opportunity to focus on outreach and education. The older Indians they target are those in the 55–64 age group, too young to receive Medicare and yet perhaps ready to plan for their retirement or address a long standing health issue. Ms. Spruce Bly is excited to get the message out about health insurance in New Mexico. Her theory of change is that once people increase their knowledge they will in turn change their behavior. Her initial approach resulted in 441 inquiry calls which led to 269 appointments, culminating in 244 individuals signing up for coverage.

Ms. Spruce Bly shared two remarkable success stories. One self-employed older couple too young for Medicare signed up and found a plan for 32 cents a month, with no cost sharing, no co-insurance, and no co-pay. They were also able to assist an older man who was paying over $400 a month for Medicare part A; once he signed up he was able to get the same coverage for $6.00 a month. Read More Read More

ACA: Vital to Diverse Older Adults – Don’t Be Left Out

With the start of the New Year, people across the country started coverage on insurance plans selected through the Health Insurance Marketplace. For racially and ethnically diverse and LGBT older adults, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Marketplace pose both the opportunity for better health and the challenge of possibly being left behind by a new program. The Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC) is now working to improve the health of the populations that it serves and to empower them to fully participate in the ACA.

A recent article by Kaiser Health News identifies some of the opportunities and challenges California’s Hispanic population face. The article highlights the tremendous help the Health Insurance Marketplace has been to Maria Garcia, who worked with a community health center to enroll herself and her husband in an insurance policy costing $36 per month after subsidies. The article also describes the need for culturally and linguistically appropriate enrollment assistance. Many Hispanic older adults enrolling in the Marketplace like to enroll with the help of a person that they trust. Health Care Navigators can also help diverse older adults overcome barriers such as lower levels of internet connected home computers and fear of putting personal information online.
 

NHCOA Health Care Navigator

NHCOA Health Care Navigator

Read More Read More

The Road Less Traveled: Medicare and the Medicare Savings Programs as a Potential Solution for the Underinsured Immigrant

Every year, the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA) receives over 9,500 phone calls through a national, toll-free, Asian language Helpline from limited and non-English speaking seniors needing help understanding benefit programs for which many are eligible but unable to access.

Mrs. Pang and Mrs. Taduran (not their real names) represent thousands of immigrant seniors in the United States, who are legal permanent residents but have little or no work history in this country and go without adequate healthcare because they cannot access affordable insurance. Many are eligible for Medicare or Medicare Savings Programs but are unaware of their eligibility.

Mrs. Pang, a Chinese grandmother living in Seattle, was worried that Medicaid would not cover her health care costs while visiting her grandchildren in Los Angeles. She was right to be worried because as a Washington State resident, her Medicaid was issued by Washington State and so she had no Medicaid coverage outside of the state.

Mrs. Taduran emigrated from the Philippines with her daughter and her family so she could care for her grandchildren while her daughter and son-in- law worked. Mrs. Taduran had no health insurance because her household income was too high to qualify for Medicaid yet far too low to afford private health insurance premiums. A few years later she began to have blurred vision but didn’t tell anyone since she knew her family couldn’t afford a doctor. Read More Read More

Fighting the Good Fight Against Isolation

As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed. Vincent van Gogh

W., 66, a former journalist and man about town, entered the meeting on LGBT issues a little late and his gait was slower than usual. When the meeting ended, he asked for a ride to the subway. As we rode, he talked about why he was late: not knowing the bus routes for this part of the city, the bus being late and the neighborhood being less than desirable. He hadn’t been feeling well and almost didn’t come to the meeting. It occurred to me that this African American elder continues to “fight the good fight” to beat the isolation that can plague us as we age and attended the meeting anyway.

Isolation is one of the great robbers of an enriched quality of life for older adults across the spectrum of race/ethnicity, class, religion, national origin, familial status, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Self-imposed isolation related to aging can include an unwillingness or inability to drive, limited transportation options, chronic ailments and disabilities, lack of events for their peer group, the lack of compatriots and a youth oriented culture. Read More Read More

Reminder: One Month Left in Medicare Open Enrollment

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Medicare Open Enrollment is the time of year when beneficiaries can change their Medicare health plan and prescription drug coverage for the following year. Each year Medicare Open Enrollment runs from October 15-December 7. The National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) encourages you to consider reviewing your Medicare drug or health care plan, and/or assist your loved ones in reviewing theirs. You can use the materials provided in NHCOA’s Medicare Open Enrollment toolkit to assist you in reviewing your options in order to find the coverage that best meets your needs. However, if you and your loved ones are satisfied with your current health plan, no action or change is required.

Medicare is health insurance for people 65 years or older. The U.S. Federal government provides this health care service from revenue collected through payroll taxes. If you’ve paid into Social Security and Medicare for 10 years as an employee, you are most likely eligible for Medicare benefits.

Following the three C’s is a good criterion to keep in mind when reviewing your current plan and making the decision whether or not to make changes. Read More Read More

The Puzzle that is Obamacare. Explained in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean & Vietnamese

Understanding the new Health Insurance Marketplace can feel a lot like piecing together a puzzle. Despite the setbacks, the Marketplace is up and running.  For community groups and advocates, it’s time to help our communities shop for health coverage that fits their many needs. For older adults, it’s time to get covered.

To make it simple, the Diverse Elders Coalition has created a simple flyer, “Why the ACA Matters to Our Communities,” which offers step-by-step instructions for enrolling in the Marketplace, as well as a rationale for the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as the ACA or Obamacare) and older people of color, LGBT older people and older immigrants.  It’s available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese.

Our member organization, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)  has also created a special flyer on why the ACA matters to LGBT elders. Download here.

  • Share this flyer with older people—age 50 and older—in your life to effectively explain how they can apply for health insurance
  • Print this flyer for presentations, events or meetings to educate other leaders about why the ACA matters to older people of color, LGBT elders and older immigrants.

For more information on the ACA and its impact on diverse elders, visit diverseelders.org/our-health

Have a question about Obamacare and why it matters to diverse elders? Ask us on Twitter. @diverseelders Read More Read More

Southeast Asian American Elders and the Affordable Care Act

Historically Southeast Asian Americans have faced significant barriers to accessing affordable health insurance and culturally and linguistically appropriate health care. These barriers have contributed to health disparities:

• Southeast Asian American communities experience high uninsurance rates; 26.7% of Hmong Americans live in poverty and 18.3% of Vietnamese Americans lack health coverage.

• Cervical cancer incidence rates are among the highest in the U.S. for Laotian, Vietnamese and Cambodian American women. Factors for this disparity have been attributed to low Pap smear rates, lack of preventive care prior to immigration and a lack of sensitivity by providers.

• Asian American adults aged 65 years and older were 30% less likely to have ever received the pneumonia shot compared to white adults of the same age group.

• One of the greatest health disparities between Southeast Asians and the general population is liver cancer, 80 percent of which is caused by chronic hepatitis B virus infection. Liver cancer rates for Vietnamese men are 13 times higher than rates for White men.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has provided many benefits to the Southeast Asian American (SEAA) community, and in particular, its elder population. The positive impacts have continued with the start of Open Enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace. The ACA’s benefits include: Read More Read More

Attention Diverse Elders: Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period Starts Today!

Medicare’s Open Enrollment period is October 15 – December 7. This is when ALL people with Medicare can change their Medicare health plan and prescription drug coverage for 2014. You can find information on 2014 plans by visiting the Medicare Plan Finder. People with Medicare can call 1-800-MEDICARE or visit www.medicare.gov to learn all about Medicare. If a person is satisfied that their current plan will meet their needs for next year, they don’t need to do anything.

The Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC) knows well that large numbers of older people of color and LGBT elders nationwide face financial difficulties, making Medicare critically important to their health and economic well-being. Did you know? 46% of Latinos, 43% of Asians, 52% of African Americans over the age of 55 and 92% of American Indians and Alaska Natives are covered by Medicare (based on different studies); and according to a national health study of LGBT older people, almost all (97%) had some form of healthcare insurance coverage, primarily through Medicare. Without Medicare, many older people of color and LGBT elders would be required to pay for health expenses on their own, accrue enormous debts, and likely not receive the health care they need. The Affordable Care Act has further strengthened this vital program.

HOW DOES THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT AFFECT MEDICARE?

Your Medicare coverage is protected. Medicare isn’t part of the Health Insurance Marketplace established by ACA, so you don’t have to replace your Medicare coverage with Marketplace coverage. No matter how you get Medicare, whether through Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan, you’ll still have the same benefits and security you have now. You don’t need to do anything with the Marketplace during Open Enrollment. Read More Read More

Open Letter to Health Reform Advocates: Pay Attention to Discrimination

The harms inflicted by discrimination reveal themselves in our bodies as we age — as people of color, as poor and low-income people, and as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The symptoms manifest as higher rates of high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, depression, social isolation and more. In medical charts throughout the country, our bodies record what it means to survive a life shaped by perpetual poverty, higher concentrations in low-wage jobs with no health insurance, thin retirement options and inadequate protections in the workplace. They depict our fractured relationships to health care — from cultural and linguistic barriers to overt bias and discrimination from health and aging providers, to a long-held, hard-earned distrust of medical staff internalized through years of differential treatment.

Our bodies confirm vividly the geographic dimensions of structural inequality, which can predict long-term health as early as childhood, based largely on where a person is born. We inhale the poison of inequality throughout our lives, and it inflames in our later years as a dismal diagnosis, a medical crisis or a preventable death. Yes, severe illness will surprise many of us at some point in our lives, and death is indiscriminate, but as empirical fact, poor health affects certain demographics disproportionately at earlier and higher rates, often the same people with no health coverage to manage the repercussions.

Oct. 1 aims to begin reversing these conditions. The health insurance marketplace established through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) offers opportunities to shop for state health insurance plans and begins improving coverage for the 47 million uninsured people in this country. Millions of people work in jobs with no health coverage, cannot afford insurance on their own and fall through gaps in public support that leave them uninsured or underinsured. Without insurance, people accrue unmanageable debt, delay health care and in turn watch their health worsen over time — a trajectory most often experienced by people of color, LGBT people and low-income people. These hardships intensify for older people who must also contend with age-related bias in the workplace and the challenges of paying for out-of-pocket expenses with meager incomes. An all-inclusive vision of health reform must incorporate the realities of aging as early as age 50. Read More Read More

Hey California! New Health Insurance Options in 9 days!

In just 9 days, individuals across the nation will be able to begin enrolling in the new Health Insurance Marketplace as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Webinar - Don't Miss California's ACA Enrollment Bus

Webinar – Don’t Miss California’s ACA Enrollment Bus

Please join SEARAC for a webinar so you and your organization are prepared to help community members access health insurance on DAY ONE! This webinar will be California-specific and will focus on what you need to know about the INDIVIDUAL MANDATE and how to get your organization ready to help community members with ENROLLMENT into Medi-Cal and Covered California. To register for the webinar, please click here: http://tinyurl.com/SEARACenrollmentbus

What: Webinar – Don’t Miss California’s ACA Enrollment Bus

When: Thursday, September 26; 1pm – 2:30pm Pacific Time