by Andrew Lam. Andrew is the author of two books of personal essays: “Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora,” and “East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres,” and a book of short stories, “Birds of Paradise Lost.” This article was originally published by the Center for Health Journalism.
The cost of aging in America is exorbitant, which my siblings and I are finding out firsthand through our struggles over the past three years to take care of our aged parents.
My mother, suffering from Alzheimer’s, spends her remaining days mostly in a hospital bed in hospice care, but mercifully next to my father. Both live in an apartment in.... Read More
Medicare Advantage Plans Cleared To Go Beyond Medical Coverage — Even Groceries
Air conditioners for people with asthma, healthy groceries, rides to medical appointments and home-delivered meals may be among the new benefits offered to Medicare beneficiaries who choose private sector health plans, when new federal rules take effect next year.
On April 3, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) expanded how it defines the “primarily health-related” benefits that private insurers are allowed to include in their Medicare Advantage policies. And insurers would include these extras on top of providing the benefits traditional Medicare provides.
“Medicare Advantage beneficiaries will have more supplemental benefits, making it easier for them to lead healthier, more independent lives,” said CMS.... Read More
We Hear You: Why Being Culturally Competent Matters in Aging Services
Salma Abdul* was born and grew up in Bangladesh. Her children left for the US to study, then settled in the country as permanent residents. When her husband died, she found herself alone. Her children, unable to leave their lives in the US, but worried about her aging alone, asked her to come and join them in America. When Abdul arrived in the USA at 69 years of age, she had to find her feet in a brand new country and culture. Her adopted country was technologically more advanced and spoke a language she didn’t understand. Its culture was completely different from hers. Its systems were complex and, because she couldn’t speak fluent English, harder to navigate.
For many Southeast Asian Americans, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal fight last year felt personal.
When the ACA was first passed, uninsured rates in Cambodian, Hmong, Lao, and Vietnamese American communities were high. Compared to the 15% of Americans overall who did not have health insurance in 2011, 20% of Cambodian, 20% of Vietnamese, 19% of Laotian, and 16% of Hmong Americans were uninsured. Too many families used emergency rooms as last-resort healthcare providers or went for years without regular check-ups.
Only four years later in 2015, the uninsured rate was cut in half. Thousands of families were finally accessing the preventative and life-saving care that they needed. Some accessed care through the healthcare exchange, supported by subsidies to.... Read More
Worried About Care for Your Aging Parents? Support Racial Justice.
As a long-term care advocate, the most common question I get from friends is about access. A friend needs home care for his father with dementia, but he doesn’t know where to start or whether he can afford it. Another friend who has begun applying for Medicaid for her mother soon discovers that the application process is arduous and deeply invasive. Worse, she learns that paying for a nursing home will quickly deplete her mother’s savings—as designed by Medicaid—just to qualify for government support. The safety net for people who need long-term care is fractured, unfair and complicated—a painful realization at the worst possible time.
I think of these scenarios when I’m caught in policy debates about.... Read More
A Culturally Relative Approach to Outreach in Rural & Frontier Communities
by Clarissa Durán, Program Manager for the Rio Arriba County – Northern NM BEC. This article originally appeared on the website of the National Council on Aging (NCOA).
The Northern New Mexico Benefits Enrollment Center (NNM BEC) is a partnership of entities in North Central New Mexico comprised of Rio Arriba County Health and Human Services (RAC HHS) Department Senior Care Services Division, Santa Fe County Human Services Department, Holy Cross Hospital in Taos, and North Central Community Based Services (a non-profits agency in the northern frontier area of Rio Arriba County) as well as many nonprofit supporting partners.
Covering an 8,000 square mile tri-county area, the NNM BEC serves many rural.... Read More
Paiute Tribe Elders Navigate a Faltering Health Care System
Dennis and Betty Smartt live in a neatly painted white-and-blue home on the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Reservation, on the Nevada-Oregon border. They’ve spent their entire lives here, in this small tribal community of 600 people.
The Smartts, members of the Paiute Tribe, exemplify the challenges Native elders face as they get older in remote communities with poor health care access.
At their home, Dennis’ handcrafted eagle feather headdress adorns a stand in the living room. He recently returned from a trip to Fort Bidwell, Calif., where he spoke at a traditional gathering of elders for prayer and cultural talks. That trip illustrated some of the challenges the Smartts and.... Read More
Texans With HIV Cope With Homes And Medicines Ruined By Hurricane Harvey
This story by Kaiser Health News senior national correspondent Sarah Varney aired Nov. 24, 2017, on Here & Now.
Angelia Soloman watched out the window of her ranch house in northeastern Houston as the floodwaters rose up to the windowsills.
She huddled inside with her three adopted children (ages 12 to 15), a nephew and her 68-year-old mother. “They were looking and crying, like, ‘We’re gonna lose everything,’” said Soloman. “And I’m like, ‘No, it’ll be OK.’”
When the water began rushing under the front door, filling up the house like a bathtub, Soloman led her family outside, and plunged into a river of water up to her chest.
The hurricane couldn’t have come at a worse time.... Read More
What Advocates for Older Adults Need to Know About the Budget Resolution
If you work with older adults (or have older adults in your life), you have a sense of what we all need as we age. The burden of high health care and housing costs on low-income seniors is growing, and fewer seniors can meet these basic needs: hot meals and enough food to eat, a stable home in the community, and quality health care. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans passed a budget resolution that would make this vision of aging more and more rare. The budget resolution.... Read More
New to HealthCare.gov? Three things you should know
Well, September has officially passed. The Republican attempt to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has officially sunsetted. Hallelujah.
My fleeting sigh of relief was almost immediately replaced with concern over the death-by-a-million-paper-cuts approach to ending affordable healthcare access, the latest being #45’s decision to eliminate health-care subsidies — not to mention continued Republican rhetoric to try again in, oh, I don’t know, maybe January or February.
My mother-in-law is in her last — who knows how long she has. And her remaining days, which could and should be carefree, are instead filled with anxiety about how her middle-aged daughter will afford health care. Not whether her daughter can afford pretty golden baubles. Not.... Read More
by Seema Verma, CMS Administrator. This post originally appeared on the CMS blog. To read this article in Spanish, click here.
When you get your new Medicare card in the mail, keep it safe! Guard your card to prevent fraud.
As you may have heard, or perhaps you’ve seen a recent TV commercial, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will soon be issuing every Medicare beneficiary a new Medicare Card, without Social Security Numbers, to prevent fraud, fight identity theft, and keep taxpayer dollars safe, and to help ensure that we always put the needs of patients first.
It’s unfortunate that criminals are increasingly targeting people age 65 or.... Read More