Aging News Alert

District of Columbia

 

Grants Support Healthcare, Needs of Seniors

The National Lutheran program Impact1890 provides grants to nonprofit organizations, including congregations and community-based programs, which address the critical needs of seniors in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC.

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Medicare Briefing Set for March 27

This session will be especially helpful to congressional staff members new to the issue and a useful review and update for staff working on a broad range of Medicare issues.

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Creative Aging Center to Host First National Conference

The upcomking conference will facilitate the exchange of research and best practices, retool practitioners, and showcase successful programs in areas including the arts, social and community services, education, caregiving, health, research, policy, and veteran services.

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National Voices of Medicare Summit Set for Late March in DC

The Center for Medicare Advocacy will hold its 1st Annual “National Voices of Medicare” Summit from 8:30 a.m .to 5 p.m., EST, March 21. The event will take place in Washington, DC, at the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Barbara Jordan Conference Center, 1330 G Street NW.

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DC Mayor to Address National Aging in Place Policy Summit

Washington, DC Mayor Vincent Gray (D) will address the National Aging in Place Policy Summit taking place Oct. 16 in Washington, DC.

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Nat’l Hispanic Council on Aging’s Annual Summit Set for Oct. 8-10

'Strengthening the Older Americans Act, promoting job creation and training, and developing affordable senior housing are more important than ever. It is vital that we address these aging issues on the local, state, and federal levels. Working together we can ensure our older adults can age with dignity,” says NHCOA President & CEO Yanira Cruz.

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Alzheimer's Council Sets July 19 Meeting

The next meeting of the Advisory Council on Alzheimer's Research, Care, and Services will be held on Friday, July 19 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT.

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Catering to Diversity: A New Twist on an Old Idea

Here's a good idea -- senior daycare facilities specializing in diverse populations.

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IOM to Host Global Elder Abuse Workshop

The Institute of Medicine, on April 17-18, will host a two-day public workshop on global elder abuse and its prevention. The workshop will begin at 8 a.m. on both days at the Keck Center, 500 Fifth St. NW, Washington, DC 20001.

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DC Mayor Promises $100 Million for Affordable Housing

The mayor announced the plan at his annual "State of the District" address during which he also highlighted an "unprecedented" level of development in the DC.

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Capital Area AAA Garners Nat'l Award For Legal Assistance

Senior Law Day, hosted twice annually in Richmond for area seniors 55 and older and for adults with disabilities of any age, was among 44 exemplary programs chosen throughout the nation.

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U.S. Health Insurance Industry Event to Focus on Medicare, Medicaid

If you're concerned about the future of Medicare and/or Medicaid, you might want to check out an upcoming event in Washington, DC. America's Health Insurance Plans, the trade association representing the U.S. health insurance industry, is putting on a three-day conference in September that promises to focus, with laser beam intensity, on Medicare and Medicaid.

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BoA Development Arm, Nonprofit Open DC Housing

Bank of America Community Development Corporation (CDC) teams up with a Washington, DC nonprofit to develop a new affordable housing complex in the Anacostia neighborhood that will serve the housing needs of low-income seniors.

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AFTA's 22nd Annual Mixed Doubles Tennis Tourney Set for June 9

Washington's premier organization for bringing arts to older adults, Arts for the Aging (AFTA), has slated the 22nd Annual Mixed Doubles Tennis Round-Robin Tournament for Saturday, June 9, followed by an Executive Reception on Tuesday, June 12.

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Latino Aging Community Underutilizing Long-Term Care Services

In order to reach this demographic, agencies must move away from policies that treat Latinos as a monolithic -- i.e., impenetrable -- group.

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Boomer Summit: Anticipating Discoveries Yet To Come

To a government, a demographic of 100 million consumers is too expensive to service and considered a problem; to marketers, it's a significant opportunity.

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National Capital Area to Host Regional Conference on Aging

"This is the first attempt that we know of in which three jurisdictions are trying to convene a regional conference focusing on these issues," says Wesley Wood, state program administration for Maryland Department on Aging.

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DCOA to Launch Ambassador Program

The District of Columbia Office on Aging (DCOA) is set to launch a new Ambassador Program in hopes of reaching out to older adults and their caregivers, helping them better understand the services and resources available to them.

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N4a Gears Up For Annual Hill Briefing

The two-day conference will feature presentations by national experts on hot-button issues like the implementation of Affordable Care Act provisions, the role of managed care and Medicaid, the upcoming reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, budget and deficit issues, and more.

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(HOSPICE) National Healthcare Thought Leaders to Discuss End-of-Life Issues

The theme of this year's event, "Transitions and Coordinated Care: The Impact of Pain Across the Continuum of Care," will examine emerging national healthcare trends and how these will impact the delivery of patient care.

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(LOCAL PROGRAMS) Busy as Miss B: The DC Office on Aging's Newest Wellness Center

Local seniors who visit DC's Fonteneau Center have already benefited from some unique programs and activities there -- among them outings, cooking classes, and fitness instruction.

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(n4a) Aging Community Leaders To Address Potential Impact of Federal Budget Cuts

The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) will host its 36th Annual National Conference in Washington, DC, July 16-20, when hundreds of aging community professionals will gather to discuss the impact of potential federal budget cuts, including reforms to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

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(GRANTS) Consumer Health Foundation Funds Programs in DC, MD, VA

This is big, generous funder. Last year, the Foundation awarded grants totaling some $1.8 million, with most grants ranging from $25,000 to $35,000.

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(CASH AWARD) Second Annual CLASSY Awards Now Accepting Nominations

How would you like to win $10,000 or more in cash and in-kind services as recognition for all you've done for the community this year? Rally your supporters to nominate you for the Second Annual CLASSY Awards. If your seniors services organization has hosted an event, a fundraiser, or a special campaign in Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York City, San Diego, San Francisco, or Washington, DC, you're eligible for a CLASSY Award.

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(GRANTS) Foundation Awards Free Consulting Services

Is your aging services-related organization in need of some high-powered consulting services? The Taproot Foundation's approach in supporting nonprofits is nontraditional. Instead of writing checks, the foundation awards grants in the form of free consulting services, delivered by teams of business professionals and valued at $45,000 or more per project.

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(GLOBAL AGING) World Health Organization Presses Cities to Join Network of Age-Friendly Cities

The World Health Organization joined with AARP this week in Washington, DC to present the Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities, an initiative established by the WHO as an international effort aimed at helping cities prepare for two global demographic trends: (1) the aging of urban populations, and (2) increasing urbanization around the world.

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(EVENT) June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

On June 15, communities and municipalities around the world will recognize World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) and hold activities designed to raise awareness of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. The Administration on Aging and other partner agencies within the Department of Health & Human Services and the Justice Department have planned a joint event to highlight the problem of elder abuse and neglect in America.

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(WHITE HOUSE) Prominent Republican Governor Condemns GOP Partisanship over Healthcare

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) applauded President Obama and the stimulus package Monday, in comments made after meeting Monday (Feb. 22) with the president in the wake of the National Governors Association's annual conference in Washington, DC. The only governor to meet with the president privately, Schwarzenegger praised the stimulus package, calling it "very successful so far" and urged Republicans to compromise on the current healthcare package, rather than scrap the entire bill and begin anew -- which is the position now taken by congressional Republicans.

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(ASSISTED LIVING) Senior Living Advocates Assemble on Capitol Hill

More than 120 Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) members and senior living advocates from across the nation left an impressive footprint on Capitol Hill last week with the largest single advocacy event ever held by ALFA.

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(CAREGIVING) Caregiving Workers' Health Problems Seen Costing U.S. Firms $13.4 Billion Annually

If you are responsible for taking care of an elderly relative or friend, it will likely impact your health and your employer's bottom line. Employees in the United States who are caring for an older relative are more likely to report health problems such as depression, diabetes, hypertension or heart disease, costing employers an estimated average additional health care cost of 8% per year, or $13.4 billion annually, according to the authors of a new study from the MetLife Mature Market Institute (MMI).

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(MARKETING) Retirement Community Partners with Newspaper to Develop and Distribute Lifestyle Magazine

Residents of Washington, DC suburbs recently opened their free weekly newspaper to find a glossy, 32-page, full-color marketing piece from Asbury Methodist Village, Gaithersburg, MD. The newest issue of Asbury Lifestyles is the fourth to be published by the accredited continuing-care retirement community.

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(PHYSICIAN PAY) Groups Urge Changes in Medicare Physician Payments

The American Medical Association, AARP and the Military Officers Association of America today (Jan. 21) launched an advertising campaign urging the Senate to approve a House-passed bill (HR 3961) that would establish a new system of paying physicians for Medicare services that would head off a 21% cut scheduled to go into effect March 1 under the current system.

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(SENATE) GAO Letter Report Sets Tone for Upcoming Debate on Social Security Reform

A just-released letter report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, focuses on options for strengthening Social Security benefits for those people who need them most. The study -- expected to become part of a more comprehensive Senate Special Aging Committee report on Social Security due out next month -- helps frame the challenges lawmakers face as they embark on efforts to reform the Social Security system.

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(HEALTHCARE COSTS) Report Finds Historically Low Rate of Growth; Health Spending Grows Faster Than Overall Economy

Nominal health spending in the United States grew 4.4% in 2008, to $2.3 trillion or $7,681 per person. This was the slowest rate of growth since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services started officially tracking expenditures in 1960. Despite slower growth, however, health care spending continued to outpace overall nominal economic growth, which grew by 2.6% in 2008 as measured by the Gross Domestic Product.

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(HEALTHCARE) GAO Study Examines State-by-State Costs of Retiree Health Benefits

A newly released a study by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) shows that retiree health benefit liabilities of state and local governments amount to more than $530 billion. GAO's study concludes that these liabilities are heavily dependent on projections of healthcare costs.

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(HI-TECH) Center Pushing Solutions for Reducing Medication-Related Errors Among Older Americans

The Oakland, CA-based nonprofit Center for Technology & Aging is pressing federal lawmakers to consider innovative methods for reducing medication-related errors and improving medication adherence among older adults. Doing so could save the United States billions of dollars -- not to mention the thousands of lives that could be saved each year.

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(ELDER CARE) Expert Offers Advice on Assessing Elderly Love Ones' Well-Being

As disparate family members gather for the upcoming holidays, a unique opportunity exists to assess older loved ones' general well-being. In a recent briefing with reporters, Dr. Cheryl Phillips, chief medical officer for On Lok Lifeways -- a model program in the Administration on Aging's successful "Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly" (PACE) -- outlined five key areas where a little observation can result in a lot of good.

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(SENATE) Procedural 'Hold' Stops Senate Action on Rx Drug Importation Bill

Sen. Thomas Carper (D-DE), a member of the Finance Committee, has thrown up a procedural roadblock preventing his colleagues in the Senate from voting on a bipartisan proposal to lower prescription drug prices for millions of Americans.

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(RETIREE BENEFITS) Advocates Rail Against Elimination of Rx Drug Subsidy

Since the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, 28% of retiree drug plans have been subsidized by the federal government. By removing the subsidy to lower the cost of healthcare reform, lawmakers erroneously estimated revenue which will never materialize because of the resulting increase in the cost of the Medicare Part D program to cover retirees who will be bumped from their employer-sponsored plans, retiree advocates say.

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(RETIREMENT HOMES) U.S. House of Representatives Reacts To Drywall Findings

Lawmakers in the House of Representatives have approves legislation aimed at addressing the growing toxic drywall problem, but the measure is only a prelude to possible rescue legislation that could emerge early next year.

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(FUNDING) New War Strategy Could Further Slow FY 2010 Appropriations

President Obama's decision to spend an additional $30 billion for the Afghanistan war could further slow the FY 2010 appropriations process and delay the opening of many funding streams due to launch next year, including millions of dollars now earmarked for a raft of programs mandated by the Older Americans Act (OAA).

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(CONSUMER PROTECTION) Senator Vows Legislative Effort to Help Seniors Avoid Scams

"People over 65 hold $15 billion in assets," says Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). "So when you're taking about scam artists, online Internet scams, mail fraud, different financial advisors who take advantage and prey on seniors, they see a population that has enormous amounts of resources and they take advantage."

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(AWARDS) Eight Nonprofit Organizations Garner Encore Opportunity Honors

To honor organizations that are making it easier for experienced workers to transition into encore careers -- paid jobs offering meaning and the chance to make a social impact -- Civic Ventures and MetLife Foundation, during a press conference in Washington, DC on Tuesday (Nov. 17), named winners of the 2009 Encore Opportunity Awards: eight nonprofit and public sector organizations that are tapping "encore" talent to serve the common good. Each organization will receive a $2,500 cash prize.

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(MEDICARE FRAUD) Top-Level Official Lauds HEAT's Success, Promises More

The U.S. Justice Department is reveling in the success of its collaboration with the Health & Human Services Department (HHS) in creating the Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) to combat Medicare fraud. Assistant U.S. Attorney General Lanny Breuer, in comments today (Thursday, Nov. 12) at the 10th Annual Pharmaceutical Regulatory & Compliance Congress in Washington, DC, said actions by the HEAT Strike Force have resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars paid in fraudulent Medicare billings being returned to the federal government -- and he predicted more would soon be coming.

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(TRANSPORTATION) Transportation Services for Seniors Suffer Under Budget Cuts

Dramatic funding reductions at the state and local levels continue to force reductions in transportation services for seniors as well as increased fares in many areas. For example, in Prince William County, VA, -- located just outside metropolitan Washington, DC -- funding for senior transportation recently was reduced from $250,000 to less than $100,000. That reduction led the local Area Agency on Aging to eliminate five drivers and sell six vans once used to deliver older adults to senior centers.

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(ANALYSIS) CBO Review Reveals Flaws in Republican Reform Proposal

House Republicans' proposal for health reform -- the Affordable Health Care for America Act (HR 3962) -- would not accomplish the overall goals intended for reform, suggests a just-released Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis.

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(STUDY) Recovery Act Funds Support Large-Scale Trial to Test Exercise Program for Older Adults

The National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, is awarding $29.5 million in grant support over the next two years to determine whether a specific physical activity program can stave off disability in older people.

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(CONSUMER PROTECTION) Hellish Drywall Problem Impacts Thousands of Retirees' Homes

With 27 states, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico now reporting problems with imported Chinese drywall, the federal government steps in to quell the fury of homeowners beset with uninhabitable houses and health problems. A significant portion of the affected homes are owned by retirees, many of whom invested their life savings in the properties.

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(COLA) Here's Why Social Security Beneficiaries Won't See COLA in 2010

Even though Aging News Alert warned readers more than two weeks ago, many Social Security beneficiaries are scratching their heads and wondering why the Social Security Administration is not going to include a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in their benefit checks for 2010. The reason for this has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the way the COLA formula was created more than 30 years ago.

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(MANDATORY MEDICARE) Judge Clears Way to Void Rules Mandating Enrollment in Medicare

In an opinion handed down Tuesday (Sept. 29), Judge Rosemary Collyer of the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC denied a motion to dismiss filed by government lawyers representing Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue, clearing the way for the court to void five rules created by the Clinton Administration making receipt of an individual's Social Security retirement benefits contingent upon enrollment in Medicare Part A.

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(FORUM) Experts Tie Medicare Reform to Healthcare Reform

There are many myths about healthcare reform and one is that you can't reform Medicare without taking on a wide range of issues, C. Eugene Steuerle, vice president of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, tells an Aug. 20 forum in Wshington, DC.

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(HOUSE) Markey, Wyden Bill Would Provide Home Care To Medicare Beneficiaries

Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), co-chairman of the Bi-Partisan Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer's Disease and senior member of the Energy & Commerce Committee which has jurisdiction over health care policy, and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee which has jurisdiction over healthcare policy, today reintroduced the proposed Independence at Home Act, HR 2560.

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(SENATE) PBGC's Governance Questioned Amidst Charges of Mismanagement

Senate Special Committee on Aging Chairman Herb Kohl (D-WI) on Wednesday (May 20) presided over a hearing on whether the federal government's Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) has the capability to fulfill its mission to insure the pensions of nearly 44 million Americans, at a time when several of the country's largest automobile companies are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

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(SENATE) AARP Honcho Urges Lawmakers to Pay Attention to Healthcare Needs of 50- to 64-Year-Olds

The head of the nation's largest advocacy organization for people over 50 on Tuesday (May 5) told the Senate Finance Committee's roundtable on expanding health care coverage that lawmakers need to address the more than 7 million uninsured Americans aged 50-64. "Comprehensive reform to provide affordable coverage to all Americans could not be more urgent, as coverage losses are snowballing in our current economy," says AARP President Jennie Chin Hansen.

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(CENSUS BUREAU) Fast Facts for Older Americans Month

How's your math? Here's some numbers you may find interesting.

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(ADVOCACY) Stimulus Checks for Nursing Home Residents: Who Keeps the Money?

In May 2009, nearly every nursing home resident in the country will receive a one-time cash benefit of $250. The cash benefits are provided as a result of the American Recovery &d Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, also known as the Stimulus Act). According to officials at the Center for Medicare Advocacy, some nursing facilities are telling families that it is the facilities, not the residents, that will receive and spend the stimulus money. This is incorrect, CMA experts tell Aging News Alert.

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(LAWSUITS) Medicare Beneficiaries Sue to End Delays in Funds to Pay Premiums

Claiming harmful and illegal delays in enrollments for benefits to pay Medicare premiums, low income Medicare beneficiaries and advocacy organizations have filed suit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against the federal government and the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare.

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(CONGRESS) FY 2010 Budget Remains On Drawing Board

Congress is expected to tackle the FY 2010 budget resolution next week after spending the week following their return from the Easter/Passover recess clearing the legislative deck to wrestle with President Barack Obama's new directive -- how to handle the order to eliminate $100 million of spending in each of the Cabinet departments.

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(ASSISTED LIVING) HHS' Civil Rights Office, Alaska Dept. of Health & Social Services Sign Settlement

A licensed assisted living facility for Alaska seniors has modified its transportation policies and practices to better accommodate qualified individuals with disabilities, say officials at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and the Alaska Department of Health & Social Services (DHSS). As a result of the settlement agreement entered today (April 24) among the HHS Office for Civil Rights, DHSS and the Anchorage Pioneer Home (APH), residents with disabilities will now have equal access to APH's transportation services.

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(GRANTS) Stimulus Package Spawns Unique Academic Research Funding Opportunity

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has just released a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for an Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) program supported by funds from the Recovery Act. This FOA is unique in that it is aimed at institutions of higher education that normally don't participate in NIH research programs.

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(EVENT) One-Day Workshop Focuses on 'Targeting Boomers and Beyond'

This May 15 event brings together top mature marketers from around the globe to share valuable insights, new research and proven strategies for building successful relationships with boomer and mature consumers.

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DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program to Move Forward as Planned

The Medicare Improvements for Patients & Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA), enacted on July 15, 2008, made limited changes to the competitive bidding program for Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies (DMEPOS), including a requirement that the Secretary of Heath & human S...

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Researchers Discover Genetic Variants Associated with Increased Risk of Stroke

Scientists have identified a previously unknown connection between two genetic variants and an increased risk of stroke, providing strong evidence for the existence of specific genes that help explain the genetic component of stroke. The research was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health and by several other NIH institutes and centers.

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Senior Community Service Employment Program Grantees to Get $118 Million-Plus

The Department of Labor has issued policy guidance to grantees of the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) for the implementation of an additional $118,800,000 under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

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Trade Group Moving 'Secret' Briefing Paper on Capitol Hill, CMA Says

In what is being described by some as "a secret issue brief" now being circulated on Capitol Hill, but not included with other issue briefs on its website, the American Health Care Association (AHCA) -- the trade group representing for-profit nursing facilities -- wants Congress "to turn back the clock on nursing home residents," the Center for Medicare Advocacy (CMA) says.

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Obama Health Reform Czar Optimistic Achieving It

Obama administration health reform czar Nancy-Ann DeParle gives an optimistic report on progress toward meaningful legislation that will embody the president's principles at an April 15 press briefing cosponsored by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Families USA and the National Federation of Independent Business.

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IRS Unveils List of 'Dirty Dozen' Tax Scams for 2009

The Internal Revenue Service has issued its 2009 "dirty dozen" list of tax scams, including schemes involving "phishing," hiding income offshore and false claims for refunds.

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Federal Coordinating Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research to Hold Public Listening Session

The Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research will hold a public listening session Tuesday, April 14, in Washington, DC. The council will hear public comment regarding comparative effectiveness research and the Coordinating Council's activities.

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Obama Makes White House Office of Health Reform Official

President Obama has signed an executive order that officially establishes the White House Office of Health Reform (OHR) to help oversee the administration's efforts to make comprehensive changes in the way American health care is delivered.

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New White House Council Will Guide Funding Decisions

The White House's Office for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships has established the President's Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

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Medicare Makes Changes for Oxygen Equipment Payment and Maintenance

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) has issued a new directive to its Medicare Administrative Contractors for payment for oxygen equipment and services. The directive, effective July 6, furthers implementation of Section 144(b) of the Medicare Improvements for Patients & Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA).

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CMS Issues 2010 Guidance for Medicare Advantage, Rx Drug Plans

CMS is taking steps to "provide beneficiaries with more meaningful choices among Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug plans," the agency says. In addition, CMS will continue to build on its ongoing oversight efforts relating to Medicare health and drug plans.

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Medicare Improvement Standard Seen as Barrier to Necessary Care

The "Improvement Standard" is used as shorthand for coverage denials issued on the grounds that the individual's condition is stable, chronic, or not improving, or that the necessary services are for "maintenance only." This restrictive standard conflicts with the Medicare Act, says Judith Stein of the Center for Medicare Advocacy.

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Groups Support Legislation to End Two-Year Medicare Waiting Period

A coalition comprised on more than 120 organizations that work to ensure access to healthcare for people with disabilities is strongly backing the introduction of the proposed "Ending the Medicare Disability Waiting Period Act of 2009" (S.700 and H.R.1708). The legislation, if passed, would eliminate what many believe to be an unjustifiable two-year delay in coverage for people with severe disabilities who are waiting to become eligible for Medicare coverage.

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Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Invites Applications for Local Funding Partnerships 2009-2010

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Local Funding Partnerships program works to forge relationships between RWJF and local grantmakers willing to fund promising original projects with the potential to significantly improve the health of vulnerable people in their communities. This is an ideal opportunity for aging-related service providers. But time is running out. Brief proposals are due by April 15.

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Report: Alzheimer's Disease, Dementia Triple Healthcare Costs

Total healthcare costs are more than three times higher for people with Alzheimer's and other dementias than for other people age 65 and older, according to the Alzheimer's Association's 2009 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures, to be released Tuesday (March 24).

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Boston Physician To Lead Obama's Health IT Project

Officials at the Department of Health & Human Services today announced the selection of Dr. David Blumenthal as the Obama Administration's choice for national coordinator for health information technology. As the national coordinator, Blumenthal will lead the implementation of a nationwide interoperable, privacy-protected health information technology infrastructure as called for in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

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RWJF Seeks Applications for Local Funding Partnerships 2009-2010

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Local Funding Partnerships program works to forge relationships between RWJF and local grantmakers willing to fund promising original projects with the potential to significantly improve the health of vulnerable people in their communities.

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Building Healthy Communities for Active Aging 2009 Awards Program

This year, a new category has been included for excellence in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's "Building Healthy Communities for Active Aging" awards program -- neighborhood and non-governmental governmental organizations.

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Obama Signs FY 2009 Spending Bill

Following Senate approval, President Obama signs a $410 billion FY 2009 spending package, which includes significant increases in spending for key health-related programs.The bill will fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

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High Court's Decision in Wyeth Case Sends Strong Message to Pharma, FDA

The Supreme Court's 6-3 ruling Wednesday (March 4) in favor of Diana Levine in Wyeth v. Levine is "a landmark decision that restores basic rights that had protected consumers and patients for over a century before being dismembered by a merciless Bush administration," says attorney Christopher Seeger.

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Dorgan, Snowe to Introduce Prescription Drug Importation Bill

Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), have scheduled a press conference for Wednesday (March 4) to announce legislation they are introducing that would the safe importation of prescription drugs.

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Sebelius Named as New Head of HHS

As widely anticipated, President Barack Obama announced Monday that he has selected Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) to serve as his Secretary of Health & Human Services. Obama also announced that Nancy-Ann DeParle will run the White House Office for Health Reform.

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‘New Oxygen Coalition’ Continues Pressing for Consensus on Reform

The New Oxygen Coalition, which was convened by the American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) several weeks ago, continues to meet with stakeholders in an effort to move toward an agreed-upon set of principles reforming the Medicare home oxygen therapy benefit. The aim of the reform effort is to focus the benefit on the patient, recognize the services required in providing oxygen therapy, repeal the 36-month cap, and remove oxygen from competitive bidding.

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Older Women Find Health Benefits Through Volunteer Program

African American women aged 60 and older who volunteer in elementary schools are not only more physically active than their non-volunteering counterparts, but seem to sustain this physical activity over time. Specifically, those who volunteered burned twice as many calories as those who did not.

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Committee Releases Findings from 401(k) Target Date Fund Investigation

Senate Special Committee on Aging Chairman Herb Kohl (D-WI) on Wednesday (Feb. 25) held a hearing on the economic downturn’s effect on retirement security, particularly for those who are on the brink of retirement. Witnesses at the hearing offered insight into the myriad factors that are affecting the ability of baby boomers to retire.

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Kohl Rolls Out Older Worker Agenda, Results of GAO Study on Federal Older Workers

Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, was joined by several of his colleagues in the introduction of three bills to make it easier for older Americans to either reenter or remain in the workforce. In conjunction with their introduction, Kohl released the results of a study conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the federal government’s efforts to hire and retain older workers, and what policy changes would help them do it better.

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Special Committee on Aging to Examine Economic Impact on Boomers

Senate Special Committee on Aging Chairman Herb Kohl (D-WI) on Wednesday, Feb. 25, will hold a hearing on the economic downturn's effect on retirement security, particularly for those who are on the brink of retirement. Witnesses will cover the weakened performance of 401(k) funds, the instability of housing values, and the challenges of the labor market for older workers, all of which are contributing to diminished prospects for a secure retirement.

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Senators Resurrect Bill To Add Transparency To 401(K) Plan Management Fees

Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Herb Kohl (D-WI), chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, have reintroduced legislation aimed at protecting American workers by ensuring they can access information on the cost of 401(k) plans' management fees. The proposed "Defined Contribution Fee Disclosure Act of 2009" would require 401(k) plan providers to disclose all fees so that workers saving for retirement can make a fully informed decision about which plan is best for them.

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National Center on Senior Transportation to Sponsor Senior Transportation Institute

Is your community ready to work together to tackle local transportation challenges for older adults? If so, the Senior Transportation Institute (STI) provides you with an opportunity to address these challenges.

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CMS to Host Special Open Door Forum on 75 Percent Rule

The Feb. 9 open door forum will explore whether the rule complicates Medicare beneficiaries' access to care, whether the medical criteria should be revised, whether IRF care should include other conditions commonly treated in IRFs but outside those covered by the 75 percent rule, and whether patient outcomes and costs differ depending on the setting in which treatment is given.

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Legal Services Corp. Sets Income Levels for Free Assistance

The Legal Services Corp. has set the maximum income levels for individuals eligible for legal assistance for 2009. The levels reflect the annual amendments to the Federal Poverty Guidelines as issued by the Department of Health & Human Services. The eligible income levels are 125% of the poverty guidelines.

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CBPP Analyses Low-Income Provisions in Stimulus Packages

The Center for Budget & Policy Priorities (CBPP) now is circulating a state-by-state analysis of provisions in the House and Senate economic stimulus legislation (HR 1 and S 336) that affect low- and moderate-income individuals. CBPP, a liberal-oriented Washington, DC-based research group, believes the provisions providing relief to low and moderate income families and to states facing serious budget shortfalls are among the most effective economic stimulus in the packages.

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Stimulus Bill Overhaul Seen Likely In Senate

Fearing passage of economic stimulus legislation without some measure of Republican support might bog down future legislation the Obama administration wants, President Barack Obama dispatches Vice President Joe Biden to wrestle with his former Senate GOP colleagues over a workable compromise. But Republican senators are treading gingerly following approval of HR 1 in the House Jan. 29.

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Grants Go to Improve Decision-Making

Changemakers and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) have partnered to sponsor Designing for Better Health, a collaborative competition designed to find innovative solutions based on the concept of "nudges" -- innovative little pushes -- that help people make better decisions regarding their own health and the health of others. The competition seeks novel and effective approaches that make it easier for people to make choices and change behavior toward their health.

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PBGC Assumes Hull House Association Pension Plan

The federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) has assumed responsibility for the pensions of more than 500 employees and retirees of the Jane Addams Hull House Association in Chicago. After determining that the non-profit community service organization would be unable to generate enough funds from operations or financing to cover accumulated pension funding deficiencies, pay its debts and remain in business, the PBGC stepped in to become trustee of the Hull House Association Pension Plan.

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Hospital Opens Nation’s First Emergency Room Designed Specifically For Seniors

Holy Cross Hospital of Silver Spring, MD, has become the first hospital in the nation to create an emergency room specifically tailored to serve a growing senior population. Officially opened in early November 2008, the new six-bay Holy Cross Hospital Seniors Emergency Center is a separate, enclosed area of the main Emergency Center that provides safe, efficient emergency services designed to meet the complex, uncertain needs of non-acute elderly patients and those who care for them.

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Ways & Means Passes Tax Stimulus Bill

The House Ways & Means Committee Jan. 22 approves an economic stimulus tax bill (HR 598) that will produce net tax losses of $296.7 billion over the next decade. The American Recovery & Investment Plan (ARIP) ,is designed to help a broad range of taxpayers, including Medicare and Medicaid recipients, unemployed persons whose unemployment benefits are about to run out and who have lost their health insurance, state and local governments and small businesses. In addition, HR 598 would provide authorization and financial support for major steps to improve health information technology, a key component of major healthcare reform.

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Kaiser Poll Finds Little Support for Major Changes in Medicare Financing

The Kaiser Family Foundation poll on healthcare reform finds no consensus about fundamental Medicare reform, although 71% of respondents support permitting the federal government to negotiate prices with drug companies and 55% strongly favor filling the so-called donut hole in the prescription drug program.

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CMS Issues Three New National Coverage Determinations on Preventable Surgical Errors

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released three national coverage determinations (NCDs) to establish uniform national policies aimed at preventing Medicare from paying for certain serious, preventable errors in medical care.

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Jan. 16 Hearing Set For Lawsuit Challenging SSA Rule

Judge Rosemary Collyer of the U.S District Court for the District of Columbia has scheduled an initial hearing in the Hall v. Leavitt Medicare lawsuit for Friday, Jan. 16. The lawsuit challenges controversial government rules that deny retirees their Social Security benefits if they choose to opt out of Medicare, Part A, the hospital insurance program, in favor of maintaining the private healthcare coverage of their choice.

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AARP Urges Obama, Congress to Increase SSA Funding, Head Off 'Further Deterioration'

In a letter today to Obama and Senate and House Democratic and Republican leaders, AARP CEO Bill Novelli asked for inclusion of $960 million in the anticipated economic recovery legislation to help SSA deal with the steep increase in claims expected over the next two fiscal years.

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Message Hints At Tight Obama Administration

A message that well-placed sources say originated at the senior level of the Obama transition administration has been circulated in congressional Democratic circles to ensure that any legislation sent to the new president will be free of fringe controversy. The new administration expects routine, and sometimes heated, debate on issues but wants to massage legislation and policy messages to avoid consuming time to answer sniping from fringe groups feeling slighted, the sources say.

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Lawsuit Challenges Rules Denying Social Security Benefits To Citizens Who Opt Out of Medicare

Brian Hall, lead plaintiff in a lawsuit [ www.medicarelawsuit.org ] challenging controversial government rules that deny senior citizens their Social Security benefits if they choose to opt out of Medicare, Part A, is asking the court to issue a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction that would prevent the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) from enrolling him in Medicare when he becomes eligible this month.

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Patty Duke Helps SSA Launch New ‘Retire Online’ Web Initiative

Social Security Administration Commissioner Michael Astrue joined today (Jan. 6) with Academy Award winning actress Patty Duke in a news confrence in Washington, DC, to unveil Social Security’s new online retirement application and the agency’s Retire Online campaign. Featuring fictional cousins Patty and Cathy Lane from the hit 1960’s TV sitcom, "The Patty Duke Show," the campaign will let Americans know that it’s now easier than ever to retire online at www.socialsecurity.gov.

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AARP Sets Political, Advocacy Agenda For 2009

In outlining the AARP agenda for the 111th Congress, AARP honcho Bill Novelli stresses the urgent need to provide economic relief for America and to fix our healthcare system. Novelli also identifies key areas that will ensure that older workers have the skills they need to compete for 21st Century jobs, help put all Americans on the path to retirement security and strengthen communities across the nation by addressing the housing crisis.

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Out-Of-Pocket Payments For Healthcare Rose Significantly During Past Decade

A rise in chronic disease, particularly among baby boomers and older adults, played a key role in a 40% rise in consumer spending on out-of-pocket cost for healthcare over the past 10 years, researchers report in a just-released study.

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CMS Reminds Beneficiaries To Review Rx Drug Coverage, Health Plan Needs For 2009

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is continuing to encourage Medicare beneficiaries to review their current prescription drug and health care coverage before the annual enrollment period ends on Dec. 31 to ensure they are in a plan that will best meet their needs in 2009.

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Understanding CMS' New Rating System For Nursing Homes

Beginning today (Dec. 18) the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will rate the quality of nursing homes and report the ratings on its website, Nursing Home Compare, Under the new system, each facility participating in Medicare or Medicaid, or both, will receive a rating of one to five stars for each of three dimensions (health surveys, staffing, and quality measures), a composite rating that combines all three dimensions, and a separate rating for registered nurses (RNs). Visitors to Nursing Home Compare can sort facilities, by state, by the number of stars, separately for each of the three dimensions and for the composite score.

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Financial Report: Entitlement Programs Underfunded By Trillions

The U.S. Treasury Department reports that the federal government's net operating cost in 2008 was over $1 trillion, more than triple the previous fiscal year. The Financial Report of the United States also states that federal government's fiscal exposure for social insurance programs totaled $43 trillion.

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CEOs At Two LA-Area Medical Firms Indicted For Medicare Fraud

Two San Bernardino County, CA, medical company chief executive officers have been charged in a seven-count indictment for their alleged roles in a Medicare fraud scheme involving unnecessary durable medical equipment (DME).

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CMS Begins Fourth Annual Healthcare Provider Satisfaction Survey

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has launched its fourth annual healthcare provider satisfaction survey of Medicare fee-for-service contractors who process and pay more than $280 billion in Medicare claims each year. The Medicare Contractor Provider Satisfaction Survey (MCPSS) offers healthcare providers the opportunity to contribute directly to CMS' understanding of contractor performance, as well as aid future process improvement efforts at the contractor level.

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Donovan Gets Nod For Top Job At HUD

Former Housing & Urban Development (HUD) deputy secretary for multifamily housing Shaun Donovan has been named by President-Elect Barack Obama to head the department. Donovan presently is commissioner of the New York City Dept. of Housing Preservation & Development and, as such, head of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s (R) $7.5 billion program to build and preserve 165,000 affordable housing units for 500,000 New Yorkers, the largest housing plan in the nation.

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Bill Would Improve Lives Of Older Citizens, Direct Care Workers

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), a key member of the Senate Aging Committee, has introduced the proposed Promoting Small House Nursing Homes Act (S.3732) which aims to improve and increase person-centered long-term residential care and coordinated healthcare for older Americans.

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Billions Headed For Public Housing Rehabilitation

Targeting eight years of public housing marginalization by the Bush administration, the incoming Obama administration intends to make restoration of deteriorating public housing a cornerstone of its domestic agenda along with total national infrastructure restoration.

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Public Can Chime In On Obama Health Plans

The Obama administration's Transition Health Policy Team, headed by Health & Human Services Secretary-designee Tom Daschle, will host Health Care Community Discussions from Dec. 15-31. The discussions will help the team finalize its health care recommendations. Daschle says he will select one Health Care Discussion from all those submitted and attend it in person.

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Obama Puts Governors On Notice

Asking for workable ideas, innovative programs and fiscal responsibility, President-Elect Barack Obama admonishes the nation's governors at a meeting in Philadelphia to get their houses in order before coming to the federal government for a handout.

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Policy Primer Demystifies Federal Affordable Housing Programs

Although the ongoing foreclosure crisis has focused the nation's attention on housing problems and policies, the struggles of renters have largely been overlooked. Federal rental programs, dating back to the New Deal, serve about 6.5 million households, but an estimated 12.4 million low-income renters -- more than a third of which are elderly people on fixed incomes -- face serious housing problems without any assistance.

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Dialysis Treatment Clears The Blood, But Does It Also Cloud Vision?

Magnifying glasses may soon join the dialysis machine as essential equipment in dialysis centers around the country. A new study, published in the December issue of American Journal of Kidney Diseases, the official journal of the National Kidney Foundation, suggests that elderly dialysis patients suffer high rates of visual impairment.

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NIAMS Researchers Develop Non-Invasive Test For Osteoarthritis

Researchers funded by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) have identified a new method to diagnose and monitor cartilage changes in people with osteoarthritis (OA). Their discovery, which was reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, holds promise for interventions to preserve joint function in individuals identified at early stages of the disease.

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One In Four Boomers Plan Move, New Survey Reports

One in four baby boom generation households (26%) expects to move from their current home in the future, with the majority looking for a single-level home that is more comfortable or convenient, according to a new survey prepared for AARP.

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Dingell Loses Energy & Commerce Chair To Waxman

When the 111th Congress convenes in January, the powerful House Energy & Commerce Committee will be chaired by someone other than Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), the longest-serving lawmaker on Capitol Hill. The new chairman will be Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), a close friend and ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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Former Senate Leader Daschle To Be HHS Honcho

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle has accepted President-Elect Barack Obama's offer to be Secretary of Health & Human Services, sources tell Aging News Alert.

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Ginkgo Study Fails To Show Benefit In Preventing Dementia In Elderly

The study was conducted primarily to determine if ginkgo would decrease the incidence of all types of dementia and, more specifically, reduce the incidence of Alzheimer's disease. Secondarily, the study evaluated ginkgo for its effects on overall cognitive decline, functional disability, incidence of cardiovascular disease and stroke, and total mortality.

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CMS Issues Improper Payment Rates For Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP

CMS has reported it protected roughly $400 million of taxpayer dollars as improper payments for Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) decreased from 3.9% in fiscal year 2007 to 3.6%, or $10.4 billion, in FY 2008. The Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP improper payment rates are issued annually as part of the HHS...

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Oregon State U. Academic To Receive GSA’s Prestigious Kleemeier Award

The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) has chosen Dr. Jon Hendricks of Oregon State University as the 2008 recipient of its Robert W. Kleemeier Award. This distinction is given annually to a GSA member in recognition for outstanding research in the field of gerontology. The award will be given at GSA’s 61st-annual Scientific Meeting, which will be held from Nov. 21-25 in National Harbor, MD.

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Time For Annual Rx Drug Checkup For Seniors On Medicare

Seniors hurt by the recent economic downturn can find a way to save precious dollars on prescription drugs. The open enrollment season for Medicare Part D began on Nov. 15, which means now is the perfect time for people with Medicare to re-evaluate their prescription drug coverage. MyMedicareMatters.org, a program of the National Council on Aging (NCOA), can help people learn how to review and evaluate their plan options to make sure that they have selected the right plan for 2009.

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In Focus: The Medical Home In Medicare

The concept of a medical home is part of a newer notion of care coordination referred to as the "patient-centered medical home" (PCMH). The medical home demonstration is intended to "redesign the health care delivery system to provide targeted, accessible, continuous and coordinated, family-centered care to high-need populations."

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AHCA/NCAL Urge Congress To Protect Senior Care During Healthcare Reform Debate

In advance of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus's (D-MT) introduction of his 2009 healthcare reform proposal, the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) called upon congressional leaders and President-elect Obama to protect the full range of critical long-term care services in any efforts to address healthcare reform.

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Increased Bystander CPR, Faster Patient-to-Doctor Time Seen As Key Improvement Areas in Resuscitation

A new "State of Resuscitation" survey from the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) finds an overwhelming majority (90%) of the emergency physicians surveyed believe that resuscitation practices in the United States are not very effective. Emergency physicians cite increased bystander CPR, faster patient-to-doctor time, improved data collection and sharing, and greater use of technology as critical to improving resuscitation for victims of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

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Responding To Grassley, AARP Suspends Marketing Of Fixed Benefit Indemnity Plans

In direct response to stern criticism and probing inquiries from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), AARP has suspended marketing and sales of several AARP-branded fixed benefit indemnity plans administered by UnitedHealthcare. The suspension will remain in effect pending the outcome of an internal review by the association to determine whether consumers are being misled by its advertising.

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Genomic Dragnet Finds Clues To Likely Suspects In Alzheimer’s

Until now, only one gene variant, ApoE-4, has been implicated in such late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Its involvement was also confirmed in the new study. Yet this variant, and three others implicated in early-onset Alzheimer’s, account for only 30% of the genetic risk for the disorder, which is up to 80 percent heritable.

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CMA Urges President-Elect Obama To Embrace Medicare

Caring for elders, disabled people and families is an American value. For decades the public Medicare program has honored these values, bringing health and economic security to millions of older and disabled people and their families, says Judith Stein, executive director at the Center for Medicare Advocacy's Connecticut office. The new president should make the preservation and expansion of Medicare, as a vital social insurance program, a top domestic priority, she says.

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Social Security Privatization Supporters Take A Beating In '08 Elections

For eight long years while the Social Security and Medicare programs were under attack by the Bush administration, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare (NCPSSM) led a national education and advocacy campaign to broaden nationwide opposition to the privatization movement and its supporters. The results of those years of NCPSSM efforts are in, the Committee's leadership says.

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Federal Court Blocks Bush's 'Least Expensive Treatment' Policy

A federal court has blocked a Bush administration attempt to cut Medicaid costs by only paying for the least expensive treatment for a beneficiary's ailment. In the ruling, D.C. District Court Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. said that Congress, not the administration, sets Medicare payment rates and that Congress never intended to give HHS officials broad discretion to change them.

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CMS Unveils Incentive Program for E-Prescribing Technology

Under this new program, which was included in the new Medicare law in July, physicians who use e-prescribing technology to deliver medication prescriptions to pharmacies will be eligible for a 2% increase in their Medicare payments.

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Social Security Launches Nationwide Initiative To Fast Track Applications For People With Cancers, Rare Diseases

The head of the Social Security Administration, Commissioner Michael Astrue, has unveiled the agency’s nationwide rollout of the Compassionate Allowances initiative, a way to expedite the processing of disability claims for applicants whose medical conditions are so severe that their conditions obviously meet Social Security’s standards.

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HRSA Offers $2.9M For Geriatric Nursing Training

(Deadline: Dec. 19) This program trains and educates nursing personnel in providing geriatric care. Grants provide support for training of individuals, development and dissemination of curricula relating to the treatment of the health problems of elderly individuals; training faculty members in geriatrics; and continuing education to individuals who provide geriatric care.

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Award In Aging Research Supports Work In Biological Gerontology

(Deadline: Dec. 16) The Ellison Medical Foundation and the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) invite proposals for the Julie Martin Mid-Career Award in Aging Research program from outstanding mid-career scientists who propose novel directions of high importance to biological gerontology.

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U.S. Pension Agency Lost Almost $5 Billion in Stocks in FY 2008

The U.S. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation’s investment losses now total almost $5 billion in fiscal year 2008, according to information released at a House Education & Labor Committee hearing Friday.

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Medicare Scam Surfaces Focusing On Arthritis Kits

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reports that criminals have been advertising "Medicare Approved Arthritis Kits" with no charge to beneficiaries. These kits have not been approved by Medicare, nor has an unconditional waiver of the 20% co-payment been approved.

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Special Open Door Forum: Medicare Part D Reimbursements For Indian Health Service & Tribal Facilities

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Nov. 5 will host a Special Open Door Forum to discuss Medicare Part D Payments to Indian Health Service (IHS) & Tribal Facilities. CMS staff will present on Medicare Part D plans and beneficiary notices and IHS staff will describe IHS and tribal Part D activities.

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Hospital Discharges To Home Health, Nursing Homes Increasing

The rate of patients discharged from hospitals but who still needed home health care increased 53% (from 2 million to 4 million) between 1997 and 2006, according to the latest data in a report from the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ). There was a 30% increase (from 4 million to 5 million) in the rate of patients discharged to nursing homes or rehabilitation facilities during the same period.

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IRS Unveils Pension Plan Limitations For 2009

The Internal Revenue Service has set cost-of-living adjustments applicable to dollar limitations for pension plans and other items for tax year 2009. Many of the pension plan limitations will change for 2009 because the increase in the cost-of-living index met the statutory thresholds that trigger their adjustment. However, for others, the limitation will remain unchanged.

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Older Americans Act Provides For Assistance For Supportive Services

Advocates assisting Medicare beneficiaries, including those who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, should review the supportive services available under the Older Americans Act (OAA) for individuals in their homes or communities, advises the Center for Medicare Advocacy (CMA). The OAA includes a wide variety of services that may assist those receiving home health care under Medicare or Medicaid, CMA experts say.

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ABA's Partnerships in Law & Aging Program Seeks New Applicants

(Deadline March 1) The Partnerships in Law & Aging Program is a collaborative effort of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Law & Aging and the Albert & Elaine Borchard Foundation Center on Law & Aging, with ongoing support from the Marie Walsh Sharpe Endowment.

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In Focus: CMS' Interim Final Rules For Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Sept 18 issued Interim Final Regulations, with a comment period, implementing certain aspects of the Medicare Improvements for Patients & Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA) concerning Medicare Parts C and D. The primary, though not exclusive, matters addressed in the Interim Final Rule are Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans and marketing rules relating to Medicare Advantage Plans and Prescription Drug Plans.

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Lawsuit Challenges Legality Of Medicare, Social Security Rules

A lawsuit filed Thursday (Oct. 9) in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia charges the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) with adopting policies that deny otherwise eligible retirees their rightful Social Security benefits if those retirees choose not to enroll in Medicare.

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Several Methods Found Equally Effective For Colorectal Cancer Screening

In a change from its previous recommendation, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now recommends that adults age 50 to 75 be screened for colorectal cancer using annual high-sensitivity fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy every five years with fecal occult testing between sigmoidoscopic exams, or colonoscopy every 10 years. According to the Task Force, good evidence exists that using these methods save lives.

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CMS Seeks Nominees For DME Bidding Program Advisory Panel

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is soliciting nominations for individuals to serve on the Program Advisory and Oversight Committee (PAOC) that advises CMS on various issues relating to the competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies (DMEPOS).

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NIA Has $2.5 Million For Alzheimer's Drug Development Program

NIA has set aside $2.5 million in total costs in FY 2009 for applications submitted in response to the program announcement. However, because the nature and scope of the proposed research will vary from application to application, it is anticipated that the size and duration of each award will also vary.

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CMS Updates Home Health PPS Grouper

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has updated the Home Health (HH) PPS Grouper due to changes in ICD-9-CM coding (effective Oct. 1). The agency is providing an updated HH PPS Grouper Software Package (Version 2.03).

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Medicare Part B Drugs Average Sales Price Files -- October 2008

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has made available the Medicare Part B Drug and Biological Average Sales Price Payment Amounts for Oct. 1, 2008 to Dec. 31, 2008. We make them easily available to you here.

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Cornell Tops AARP's List Of Best Employers For Workers 50+

Cornell University's students, faculty and alumni have long been known for being proud of the high academic standards of the Ivy League school located in Ithaca, NY. They now have another reason to be proud of the "Big Red." Cornell has landed on top of the list of the 2008 AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50.

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EPA Undertakes Study Of Pharmaceutical Disposal Methods

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking public comment on an Information Collection Request (ICR) that will be used in a study of unused pharmaceutical disposal methods by hospitals, long-term care facilities, hospices and veterinary hospitals.

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What Seniors Can Do To Prevent Dangerous Blood Clots

The Surgeon General of the United States has called upon Americans to learn more about deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism -- related problems that now affect between 350,000 and 600,000 Americans each year.

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Alzheimers Association Begins Global Push

The Alzheimers Association is asking people around the world to turn their attention to this disease and visit www.actionalz.org to learn more and make a donation to support research and care service programs for those touched by the disease in the United States. For every dollar donated, the Alzheimers Association's national board of directors will match it dollar-for-dollar, up to $250,000.

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Mortgage Crisis Impacting Seniors, AARP Study Finds

More than a quarter (28.1%) of all first mortgage loans delinquent or in foreclosure from July-December 2007 were made to people over 50, the AARP Public Policy Institute reported Sept. 19. Mortgage holders over 50 have 41% of all first mortgages. The first-of-its-kind analysis was based on data purchased from Experian, one of the three largest U.S. credit bureaus. Of the 2.5 million mortgage holders in the random sample, one million were over 50.

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Advocates: Stable Part B Premium Is Good News For People With Medicare

The announcement Friday (Sept. 19) by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that the monthly Part B premium will remain at $96.40 is welcome news for older adults and people with disabilities who have seen the premium charged for doctor visits and other Medicare outpatient services more than double, from $45.50 since 2000, say advocates for seniors.

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CMS Unveils Medicare Premiums, Deductibles For 2009

The standard Medicare Part B monthly premium will be $96.40 in 2009, the same as the Part B premium for 2008. This is the first year since 2000 that there was no increase in the standard premium over the prior year. The 2009 Part B premium of $96.40 is the same as the amount projected in the 2008 Medicare Trustees Report issued in March.

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Nursing Home Residents Eligible For Digital TV Converter Box Coupons

Officials at the Administration on Aging tell Aging News Alert that residents of licensed nursing homes, intermediate care facilities, assisted living facilities and households that use a post office box for mail delivery will be eligible to request coupons from the TV Converter Box Coupon Program. The rule change takes effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register -- in about a week to 10 days.

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CMS Initiative Aims To Help Medicare Beneficiaries’ Caregivers

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today (Thursday, Sept. 18) launched "Ask Medicare," a new initiative to help family caregivers -- those who are family members or friends who help people with Medicare -- access and use valuable healthcare information, services and resources. CMS launched the initiative through a live Webcast hosted by CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems.

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Senate Aging Committee Eyes Advertising For Medical Devices

The Senate Special Committee on Aging on Wednesday (Sept. 17) began examining issues related to direct-to-consumer advertising for restricted medical devices regulated by the Food & Drug Administration. Such devices include heart stents, replacement hips, and other implanted devices frequently used in treating older Americans.

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Research Initiative To Test Treatments For Menopausal Symptoms

Women troubled by hot flashes and night sweats during the years around menopause want safe, effective treatment options. A new research initiative from the National Institutes of Health will establish a multisite research network to conduct clinical trials of promising treatments for the most common symptoms of the menopausal transition.

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No One Feels Great, But Elderly Are Safe in Wake of Gulf Hurricanes

Few if any of the approximately 5,000 elderly evacuated from the Houston-Galveston area before Hurricane Ike hit early Saturday morning are feeling comfortable, but there have been no reported deaths and the disaster plans have been implemented with no major foul-ups.

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Experts Advise Finance Panel Members About Ways To Improve Medicare

Witnesses at a Senate Finance Committee hearing Sept. 16 told lawmakers that increasing Medicare reimbursements for primary care is one of several steps that can be taken to improve the nation's healthcare delivery system.

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National Seniors Advocate Urges McCain To Clarify Social Security Privatization Position

The head of the Washington, DC-based National Committee to Preserve Medicare & Social Security is taking GOP presidential candidate John McCain to task over comments the Arizona Republican made in the wake of this week's Wall Street debacle. Specifically, Barbara Kennelly, president and CEO of The National Committee, points to a McCain's Sept. 16 interview on CNN.

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AFAR Funds Aging Research

(Deadline: Dec. 16) The American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) is accepting applications for its Research Grants to assist in the development of the careers of junior investigators committed to pursuing careers in the field of aging research. In total, 15 grants of up to $75,000 each will be awarded.

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Grassley Presses FDA On How Agency Chose Studies Used To Assess BPA Safety

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is holding the Food & Drug Administration’s collective feet to the fire, demanding that FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach explain how the agency selected the studies it is using to assess the safety of the chemical Bisphenol A -- a.k.a. BPA -- a chemical commonly found in plastics used in containers for food and beverages.

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Stark Demands Stricter Enforcement Of Medicare Advantage, Part D Marketing Rules

Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), chairman of the House Ways & Means health subcommittee, has fired off a letter to Kerry Weems, acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), on the final and interim rules for the marketing of private Medicare Advantage plans and Part D drug plans. Stark’s letter comes in the immediate wake of Monday’s action by CMS in which the agency issued a set of tough new rules aimed at reining in unscrupulous marketing practices by some Medicare Advantage and Part D service providers.

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New Rules Issued To Enforce Marketing Requirements During Enrollment Period

CMS has released final regulations aimed at protecting Medicare beneficiaries from deceptive or high-pressure marketing tactics by private insurance companies and their agents during the upcoming 2009 Medicare Advantage and prescription drug open enrollment period. The regulations also include other non-marketing related Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plan provisions.

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Primary Care Innovation: The Patient Centered Medical Home

It is widely accepted that the U.S. healthcare system, although touted by some as the "best system in the world," has room for improvement. Many people have no regular healthcare provider. Care is often fragmented and lacks coordination, which compromises quality and efficiency.

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McCormick Foundation, Partners Launch Hurricane Ike Disaster Relief Campaign

The Chicago-based McCormick Foundation has teamed up with the Chicago Tribune, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Colorado Rockies, CW11 New York (WPIX-TV), the Denver Newspaper Agency, Fox 61 Hartford (WTIC-TV), KTLA-TV Los Angeles, Newsday, North County Times, and WGN Radio 720 AM to raise money for victims of Hurricane Ike, which has battered the Texas coast and is working its way across the state.

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Daniels Fund Focuses on Independence and Quality of Life

The grants for aging projects focus on in-home services, community engagement by the elderly and end-of-life/palliative care. In the third quarter, the foundation made a grant of $500,000 to the Central Wyoming Hospice Fund in Casper, $40,000 to the Denver Assn. of Senior Citizens and $79,000 to the Little Sisters of the Poor, who operate the Mullen Home for the elderly in Denver.

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Report: Millions of Low-Income Adults Can't Get Medicaid

A new report from AARP to be released Monday (Sept. 15) looks at why millions of low-income adults cannot get Medicaid and what can be done about it. The report will be released at a panel discussion taking place on Capitol Hill sponsored by AARP and the Alliance for Health Reform.

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New Survey Cites Experience Corps As Successful National Model

A just-released AARP report, "More to Give", concludes that tens of millions of baby boomers and members of the so-called "silent generation" appear ready to increase their civic participation in retirement. "The good news is that today's 50+ Americans have been volunteering their time and talents for decades, and they're ready to do more," says AARP Chief Operating Officer Tom Nelson. "The bad news is that our country needs it. Boomers and older Americans fear the American Dream is slipping away, but they're ready to turn it around again."

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LTC Support Should Be Part Of Healthcare Reform, Symposium Participants Say

Improving financing mechanisms for long-term care must be part of any healthcare reform legislation, participants in the Sept. 9 third annual Long-Term Care (LTC) Symposium agree. But speakers from think tanks representing very conservative to very liberal views disagree on the details of what should be done.

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Medicare To Launch New Caregiving Initiative

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), along with representatives from partner organizations will launch a new online Medicare caregiver initiative providing information, tools and materials to help family caregivers. The effort will be launched with a Webcast on Thursday, Sept. 18, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. ET, where forum participants will take questions from caregivers and highlight personal stories and experiences.

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Long-Term Care Providers Form Coalition for Capital Access

Long-term care facilities from across the country are forming the Coalition for Senior Healthcare Reform, an organization that seeks to improve the quality of healthcare for seniors by ensuring access to capital for long-term care, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities.

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ASA Invites Entries For Graduate Student Research Award

The American Society on Aging is accepting applications for its award for graduate research projects in the field of aging. The award is given for the best research paper on a completed project. The award is presented annually to a graduate student for research relevant to aging and applicable to practice. Applicants must either be currently enrolled in a graduate degree program or must have completed their studies no more than one year before the point of submission.

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Report Details CMS Failure To Provide Oversight Of Part D Marketing Materials

A new, scathing report by the Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG), titled "Marketing Materials for Prescription Drug Plans," catalogs numerous failures by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to oversee Part D prescription drug benefit marketing materials, as required by law.

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What Low-Income Medicare Beneficiaries Should Expect And Do

Each fall, the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) notify certain individuals, who are receiving "Extra Help" (also called the Low-Income Subsidy or LIS) paying for their Part D drugs, of their status with respect to that benefit for the following year as well as their status with respect to their Part D plan.

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Gustav Evacuation Goes Smoothly, But Storm's Impact Still Unknown

The evacuation in the wake of Hurricane Gustav of nearly 2 million people, including elderly residing in nursing homes, has gone smoothly, Moya Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Admin. on Aging (AoA), tells Aging News Alert. But she cautions that state and local officials have not yet begun a survey of the areas hit by the storm.

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GAO: Attention Needed To Address Undisbursed Balances In Expired Grant Accounts

A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) finds that during calendar year 2006, about $1 billion in undisbursed funding remained in expired grant accounts in the largest civilian payment system for grants -- the Payment Management System (PMS). PMS is administered by the Department of Health & Human Services and makes payments for about 70% of grants and for 12 federal entities. Undisbursed funding is funding the federal government has obligated through a grant agreement, but which the grantee has not entirely spent.

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Open Door Forum: Special Needs Plan Chronic Condition Panel

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will hold an open door forum on the convening of the Special Needs Plan Chronic Condition Panel. The panel will determine the conditions that meet the definition of severe or disabling chronic conditions in accordance with Public Law 110-275, Medicare Improvements for Patients & Providers Act of 2008.

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A Message from the Publisher

Here's something special our readers should consider as we near the end of summer.

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Medicare Advantage May Not Equal Advantage In Quality Of Care

One of the arguments espoused by Medicare Advantage (MA) plan proponents is that MA plans are able to coordinate the healthcare services of beneficiaries in their plans and therefore ensure that beneficiaries receive more appropriate care. However, comparisons of the health outcomes of beneficiaries enrolled in MA plans with those in traditional Medicare have not demonstrated that MA plans provide better health care than traditional Medicare, say analysts at the Washington, DC-based Center for Medicare Advocacy.

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Cost Slowing For Hospital Patient Care, Government Data Shows

The cost of patient care in U.S. hospital rose just under 1% between 2005 and 2006, much slower than the average 5.3% per year between 1997 and 2005, according to the latest numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality. However, over the nine-year period from 1997 to 2006, the overall cost for stays in the hospital nearly doubled from $177 billion to $329 billion.

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‘Nana’ Technologies To Be Featured At AARP’s National Event

The newest technologies for seniors, as well as a preview of "sci-fi" technologies for the future will be featured during special events at the "Life@50+"| AARP’s National Event and Expo, Sept. 4-6, 2008, at the Washington, DC Convention Center.

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NCOA Gearing Up For Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill

NCOA invites you to participate in the organization’s annual Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Sept. 23. Advocates from across the country will gather for morning briefings on key aging issues from Hill staff and other policy experts, and afternoon visits with the offices of their members of Congress.

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FDA Warns Consumers About Potential Problems At Two Baltimore Pharmacies

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers who filled prescriptions at The Medicine Shoppe pharmacies located at 8035A Liberty Road and 5900 Reisterstown Road in Baltimore that they may have received drugs that were either expired or suspected counterfeit. The FDA is particularly concerned because a number of the drugs are for serious diseases and could have an adverse effect on treatment.

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CMS Touts Lower Medicare Part D Costs Than Expected In 2009

As has been the case for the past three years, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is once again proclaiming the Medicare Part D prescription drug program an unqualified success, claiming that beneficiary satisfaction rates remain high, program costs remain lower than originally expected, and Medicare prescription drug plan bids reflect nationwide drug price trends.

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Making The Case For Nonprofit Engagement

"With an effective advocacy effort, the very best nonprofit practices can grow to scale. As the next administration and Congress look for fresh ideas to help inform public problem solving, innovation in the nonprofit sector should be a major source of inspiration for programs and policies that can address the country's most intractable domestic problems," says Washington, DC-based consultant Tom Sheridan.

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Treasury, IRS Issue Ruling Preventing Certain Pension Transfers

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service have issued Revenue Ruling 2008-45, which states that a transfer of a tax-qualified pension plan from an employer to an unrelated taxpayer when the transfer is not connected with a transfer of significant business assets, operations, or employees, is not permissible under current law.

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Covert Probe Exposes Serious Weaknesses In CMS' Oversight Of DMEPOS

Investigators from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have uncovered serious flaws in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service's (CMS) oversight of suppliers of durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies (DMEPOS). GAO investigators easily set up two fictitious DMEPOS companies using undercover names and bank accounts. GAO's fictitious companies were subsequently approved for Medicare billing privileges despite having no clients and no inventory.

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Medicare Changes Can Compliment Healthcare Reform

System-wide reform of healthcare financing and delivery is key both to controlling Medicare expenditures and to slowing the growth of health care costs in the private sector, say analysts at Center on Budget & Policy Priorities, a liberal-oriented think tank in Washington, DC.

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Senate Panel Document Shows Success Of Pilot Program For LTC Worker Background Checks

Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, on Thursday (July 31) unveiled an official "Committee Print" on the success of a seven-state pilot program to conduct background checks on long-term care workers, created by Kohl and authorized under the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act.

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Nursing Home Payment Rates Increased; RUGs Recalibration To Be Studied Further

Medicare payment rates to nursing homes will increase by $780 million next year, officials at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services(CMS) say. The boost in payments is the result of a 3.4% increase in the annual market basket calculation of the cost of goods and services included in a skilled nursing facility stay. The price of the items in the basket is measured every year and Medicare payments are adjusted accordingly.

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CMS Takes Steps Aimed At Encouraging Greater Patient Safety In Hospitals

CMS is taking several actions to improve the quality of care in hospitals and reduce the number of so-called "never events" -- i.e., preventable medical errors that result in serious consequences for the patient. A final acute care inpatient prospective payment rule that went on display Thursday (July 31) at the Office of the Federal Register for publication Aug. 18, updates Medicare payments to hospitals for FY 2009 and provides additional incentives for hospitals to improve the quality of care provided to people with Medicare.

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Thinking About A Reverse Mortgage? Consider All Options

Sometimes reverse mortgage providers don't go as far as they should in explaining to their customers exactly what it is they're getting into. For example, take the case of Senior Reverse Mortgage Services Inc., a Bedford, TX-based home equity conversion mortgage originator. In its audit of SRMSI, the Department of Housing & Urban Development's Office of Inspector General found that the originator could have improved its service by consistently following requirements to adequately disclose the financial aspects of the loans to borrowers, counsel the borrowers on other available financing options, and complete documents.

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LIHTC Utility Allowance Rule Is Amended

Final regulations amending utility allowances involving the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) provide new options for estimating tenant utility costs. The rules affect owners of low-income housing projects who claim the credit, Section 8 project-based tenants -- many of whom are elderly people on fixed incomes -- and state and local housing credit agencies administering the credit.

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PBS Presents Encore Broadcast of 'THE FORGETTING'

PBS will present a special evening of programming focused on Alzheimer's disease on Sunday, Aug. 3, starting at 9 p.m. ET (check local listings). The programming starts with a national encore broadcast of the Emmy-Award-winning "THE FORGETTING: A Portrait of Alzheimer's," followed by a new half-hour discussion, "The Future of Alzheimer's," moderated by actor and Alzheimer's champion David Hyde Pierce, which features a panel of medical experts and scientists discussing the latest developments in Alzheimer's.

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Rosalinde Gilbert Innovations in Alzheimer's Disease Caregiving Legacy Awards

The Family Caregiver Alliance is now accepting applications for the inaugural Rosalinde Gilbert Innovations in Alzheimer's Disease Caregiving Legacy Awards. The deadline for applications is Aug. 15.

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'What the 2008 Housing Act Will Mean to You' -- A Free Special Report for Our Readers

The long-awaited Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 will have a direct impact on public and private housing, community development, mortgage financing, homebuilding and many other business and nonprofit organizations, as well as homeowners. The editors of Aging News Alert's sister publications -- Community Development Digest, Housing Affairs Letter, Housing Market Report and Housing for Seniors Report -- will provide you with complete coverage of the Act and its implementation. We will also be compiling a comprehensive Special Downloadable Report with information you'll find in no other source.

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Special Open Door Forum: Developing Outpatient Therapy Payment Alternatives

Officials at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have scheduled a Special Open Door Forum intended primarily for providers of physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech language pathology -- collectively termed Medicare outpatient therapy and reimbursed under Part B. The Forum may also be of interest to physicians who refer beneficiaries for outpatient therapy.

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Private DB Pension Plan Freezes Affect May Pose Retirement Income Challenges

Private defined benefit (DB) pension plans are an important source of retirement income for millions of Americans. However, from 1990 to 2006, plan sponsors have voluntarily terminated over 61,000 sufficiently funded single-employer DB plans, says the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in a just-released report.

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Congress Overrides Veto of Medicare Improvement Bill

Following President Bush’s veto of the Medicare improvement bill (HR 6331), both chambers of Congress on Tuesday (July 15) voted to override the veto. The House approved the override by a vote of 383 -41, while the Senate voted 70-26.

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New Tax Laws Dry Up Car Donations

Car donations -- a favorite tax deduction for many older Americans -- have plummeted since Congress in 2004 tightened the tax rules for claiming charitable deductions, finds a Grant Thornton analysis of new IRS data. Before 2005, taxpayers who donated a vehicle were allowed to deduct its fair market value. Tax legislation enacted in 2004 changed the rules to generally limit vehicle donation deductions of over $500 to either the actual proceeds from a vehicle's sale or the vehicle's fair market value -- whichever is less.

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Wyden, McCrery Are Optimistic LTC Crisis Can Be Solved

The long-term care for the elderly crisis is soluble and the political stars may be aligned to accomplish it in the next Congress in the context of comprehensive healthcare reform. That was the consensus view at a July 11 Brookings Institution forum in Washington.

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Medicaid Provides Older Americans Limited Access To Home, Community-Based Services

A new report by AARP's Public Policy Institute finds promising signs and mixed results among state government efforts to balance long-term care (LTC) options under Medicaid. According to the report, only four states spent more than 50% of their Medicaid LTC dollars for older people providing home and community based services.

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Prostate Cancer Vaccines Found More Effective With Hormone Therapy

Among patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer, the addition of hormone therapy following vaccine treatment improved overall survival compared with either treatment alone or when the vaccine followed hormone treatment, according to recent data. Dr. Philip Arlen, director of the Clinical Research Group for the Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology, at the National Cancer Institute, says the findings have important implications for guiding treatment decisions for prostate cancer patients.

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Medicare Bill Passes Congress, But Will It Get Past Bush?

Yesterday's passage of HR 6331, the "Medicare Improvement for Patients & Providers Act of 2008," means that the bill will be sent to the White House, where its future is unclear. Most press reports describe HR 6331 as a bill that cancels the pay cuts to doctors that went into effect on July 1, but the bill also contains improvements for Medicare beneficiaries.

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HUD Awards $17 Million-Plus To Help Develop Housing For Very Low-Income Elderly

Senior housing developments in 30 states will receive critically needed funding to get their projects off the ground thanks to more than $17 million in "pre-development" grants from the Department of Housing & Urban Development. The grants are awarded to 63 project sponsors under HUD's Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program.

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DMEPOS Audio Conference/Q&A Session Slated

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on July 15, from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT. will host an audio conference and question & answer session regarding Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies (DMEPOS) supplier accreditation. This audio conference is the third in a series of four designed to provide guidance to DMEPOS suppliers regarding accreditation.

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Senate To Try Again Moving Bill Aimed At Stopping Medicare Physician Fee Cut

The Senate this week can be expected to hold another cloture vote on a controversial House-approved measure (HR 6331) aimed at preventing a 10.6% reduction in Medicare physician fees which was scheduled to take effect July 1. That effective date has been postponed until next week.

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Controversial 'Doctor Fix' Provision Seen Improving Medicare Bill

When the Senate returns from its July 4th recess, it is expected to reconsider the Medicare "doctor fix" bill that failed to advance last month, largely due to objections from the Bush administration and many Senate Republicans to a provision concerning Medicare Advantage. Analysts at the liberal-oriented Center on Budget & Policy Priorities argue that the provision would not cut payment rates to "private fee for service" plans, as some would claim.

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Website Helps Seniors Who Haven't Filed For Stimulus Payments

In response to the recent IRS announcement that millions of older Americans had not yet filed for their economic stimulus payments, the National Council on Aging is urging seniors to use its Stimulus Payment Tool at www.BenefitsCheckUp.org.

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Senators Call For Release Of $120 Million In LIHEAP Funding

Forty-five senators, including Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jack Reed (D-RI), co-chairs of the Senate Northeast-Midwest Coalition, have fired off a letter to the White House urging President Bush to release $120 million in remaining contingency funds from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The money is being sought to help alleviate the burden high energy prices have placed on working families and seniors throughout the country.

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Last-Minute Intervention Puts Medicare Physician Fee Cut On Hold

At the last minute, the Bush administration has interceded for physicians with the Department of Health & Human Services and postponed the 10.6% Medicare payment cut that was supposed to take effect today (July 1).

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NCOA: Low Income Beneficiaries May Lose Help

Unless the Senate acts this week to pass HR 6331, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) fears that low-income Medicare beneficiaries -- people who are already struggling with increased food and gasoline costs -- could lose an important benefit. The House recently passed the bill by an overwhelming bipartisan margin.

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CMS Plan To Rank Nursing Homes Raises Concerns

Earlier this month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced plans to add a five-star ranking system to its nursing home website, Nursing Home Compare, by December 2008. Under the proposed system, each nursing facility participating in Medicare or Medicaid, or both, will receive one to five stars, with a composite score based on information currently on the website.

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Veto-Proof Majority In U.S. House Passes Medicare Package

The U.S. House of Representatives has overwhelming approved passage of HR 6331, the Medicare Improvements for Patients & Providers Act, by a veto-proof vote of 355-59

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Boomers Face Massive Loss Of Retirement Wealth Due To Housing Meltdown

Former GAO Comptroller General David Walker testified Tuesday before the House Budget Committee about a proposed commission to cut Social Security and Medicare for future retirees. However, as Congress debates this issue, members should take into account the financial situation of near retirees.

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Center For State Courts To Create Center For Elders And The Courts

The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) is launching a Center for Elders and the Courts as a result of a grant award from the Retirement Research Foundation in Chicago.

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Scientists Isolate Toxic Key To Alzheimer's Disease

Scientists have long questioned whether the abundant amounts of amyloid plaques found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's actually caused the neurological disease or were a by-product of its progress. Now, using new research techniques, scientists have shown that a two-molecule aggregate (or dimer) of beta-amyloid protein fragments may play a role in initiating the disease.

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Drug Industry Spent Record Amount Lobbying In 2007

Pharmaceutical manufacturers and their trade groups racked up another banner year on Capitol Hill, spending a record $168 million on lobbying in 2007, a 32% increase over 2006, finds a Center for Public Integrity analysis. Based on data obtained from the Senate Office of Public Records, the pharmaceutical industry has spent more than $1 billion lobbying the federal government over the past decade.

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AHA Foundation Accepting LOIs For Macular Degeneration Research Program

The American Health Assistance Foundation's Macular Degeneration Research Program supports basic research into the causes and potential treatments of the disease. The program is accepting Letters of Intent for Standard Awards (maximum of $50,000 per year for up to two years, renewable on a competitive basis).

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House Panel Kills Bush HOME Hike to Fund HUD Programs

A House subcommittee eliminates proposed White House increases in the HOME Investment Partnership Program and uses the excess to propose some moderate increases above current levels to most housing and community development programs -- inclduing housing programs for the elderly -- in the first mark of the FY 2009 budget. The bill now heads to full committee in a markup that will take place following the July 4 recess.

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Survey Asks American Workers, Ages 44-70, About Longer Working Lives

A survey released Wednesday at a press conference in Washington, DC provides clues to a question with major implications for the American economy and the lives of millions: What will 78 million baby boomers do as they continue to work into traditional retirement age?

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AoA Wants to Expand Medicare Fraud Efforts to Rural Areas

Under this competition, the Administration on Aging plans to further expand and integrate the Senior Medicare Patrol fraud awareness message throughout rural areas through collaborative efforts led by the state aging organization.

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Social Security's New Homepage

Social Security has redesigned its homepage to make it more welcoming and user- friendly. The new page is cleaner, easier to navigate and makes better use of graphics.

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$2.2 Billion Recovered Thus Far From Fighting Fraud, Waste, Abuse

The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) "Semiannual Report to Congress" says it expects to see recoveries of $2.2 billion for the first half of fiscal year 2008 from efforts to reduce fraud, waste, and abuse in HHS programs.

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Baucus: 'Senate Vote Shuts Out Seniors'

Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) on Thursday condemned a Senate vote blocking debate on the proposed the Medicare Improvements for Patients & Providers Act of 2008.

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Stark, Camp Introduce Bill To Delay DME Bidding Program

House Ways & Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark (D-CA) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Dave Camp (R-MI) have introduced HR 6252, legislation that would delay the competitive bidding program for Medicare's Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS).

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AAHomecare Sues HHS To Halt Controversial Bidding Program Set For July 1

Citing faulty implementation of Medicare's competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment, prosthetics, and supplies, the American Association for Homecare has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to stop the controversial bidding program. The program affects medical equipment and services used by Medicare beneficiaries in the home including oxygen therapy, hospital beds, and power wheelchairs.

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Prostate Cancer Coalition Report Shows States Making the Grade

Many states need a bit more schooling when it comes to prostate cancer screening and legislation, according to the just-released 2008 Prostate Cancer Report Card issued by the National Prostate Cancer Coalition (NPCC). The report assesses each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and assigns a grade based on critical areas like mortality and screening rates, state insurance mandates and support for prostate cancer-related legislation.

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Arbitration Seen ‘Reasonable, Intelligent Option’ To Resolve Eldercare-Related Disputes

Claiming that the proposed Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act of 2008 "needlessly discriminates against long-term care providers and the patients and residents in our nation’s nursing facilities and assisted living residences", the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) told the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law that pre-dispute arbitration agreements are a viable legal option for long-term care consumers and providers, and their use should not be eliminated by passage of overzealous legislative remedies.

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Aging Revolution Summit Set For Philly

This national summit will bring together top healthcare and aging services innovators, policy makers and providers to debate and explore critical senior healthcare and housing issues facing our nation.

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Preparing For And Responding To Excessive Heat Events

Older individuals are particularly vulnerable to the effects of heat stress. Because heat-related dates are preventable, people and communities need to be aware of who is at greatest risk and what actions can be taken to prevent a heat-related illness or death.

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29 States Face Total Budget Shortfall Of At Least $48 Billion In 2009

At least 29 states plus the District of Columbia, including several of the nation’s largest states, faced or are facing an estimated $48 billion in combined shortfalls in their FY 2009 budgets (which begins July 2008 in most states), say analysts at the Center on Budget & Policy Priorites. Two other states expect budget problems in FY 2010, although some of those gaps may occur earlier than expected, the CBPP analysts say.

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Stamford Senior Services Marks 100th Year

Connecticut: To help celebrate its 100th anniversary, Senior Services of Stamford, CT, will be hosting someone renowned for celebrating 100-year birthdays. Willard Scott, the inimitable NBC "Today" show personality who each week honors Americans turning 100 and beyond, is slated to be keynote speaker at Senior Services' first fundraising gala.

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Baucus Measure Would Stall Cuts In Medicare Docs' Pay

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has introduced a bill (S 3101) that would, among other things, postpone for 18 months a 10.6% reduction in Medicare physician reimbursements scheduled to take effect on July 1 and increase payments by 1.1% -- and cost an estimated $20 billion.

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Southern California Woman Charged With Bilking Medicare Out Of $12 Million

Special agents with the FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigation have arrested the operator of Wescove Home Health Services at her home in Covina, CA, on healthcare fraud and money laundering charges stemming from her participation in a scheme that defrauded Medicare out of more than $12 million.

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Patients ‘Overdose’ On Debt As Lenders, Docs, Hospitals Push Risky Credit

Some of the biggest names in the consumer credit business, including GE Money, Citigroup and Chase, are pushing risky credit for financing medical procedures, according to the latest issue of Consumer Reports, published by the nonprofit advocacy group Consumers Union.

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AMA Resorts To Issue Advertising To Halt Docs' Medicare Pay Cuts

The American Medical Association is turning up the heat on federal lawmakers in an effort to derail a measure by the Bush administration that will automatically cut physician Medicare payments by 10.6% next month. This week, the AMA began running an advertisement in several "inside-the-Beltway" publications with a headline that says: "Physicians provide state of the art care to seniors. Too bad Medicare is still 10 years behind."

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Nearly One-Third Of U.S. House Seeks One-Year Delay In Medicare Bidding

Nearly one-third of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives are urging a one-year delay in the controversial "competitive bidding" program for home medical equipment in Medicare.

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HHS, National Service Team To Increase Volunteering Among Boomers, Older Americans

Recognizing the extraordinary potential for social good among baby boomers and older Americans, the Corporation for National & Community Service and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Administration on Aging (AoA) have unveiled a multi-year partnership to engage baby boomers and older adults in addressing the needs of vulnerable populations through volunteer service.

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CBO: Healthcare Will Account For Nearly 20% Of All Federal Spending Within 75 Years

The Congressional Budget Office, in a just-released report to Congress, projects that total federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid will grow from 4% of gross domestic product in calendar year 2007 to 9% in 2032 and 19% in 2082.

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OPM Suspends Portion Of RetireEZ Contract With Government

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management has suspended work by Hewitt Associates on its part of the agency's effort to modernize processing of federal employee retirements.

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Hospital's Former Owner Charged In Connection With $64.2 Million Civil Healthcare Fraud

The former owner and chief executive of the bankrupt Edgewater Hospital & Medical Center is facing federal perjury and obstruction of justice charges in Chicago relating to the federal government's efforts to collect a $64.2 million civil healthcare fraud judgment against him.

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Share Your Subscription Legally

Let us show you how you can inexpensively and cost-effectively share Aging News Alert with your entire staff -- without violating copyright laws!

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Consumers Union To Launch Online Hospital Rating Service

Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, is set to launch an online project that rates services at more than 3,000 hospitals around the nation.

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Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Older Workers

The U.S. Supreme Court rules that an age anti-discrimination law protects federal employees who faced retaliation after complaining about discrimination.

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Are You Having Problems With Our Website?

We apologize for any difficulty you may have had during the past few days. We're aware of the problem and we are correcting it.

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CMS Tries Easing Concerns About Quality Improvement Contractors

In response to criticisms from Congress and from independent oversight agencies, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is using its 9th Statement of Work, effective August 2008 through July 2011, to impose more specific requirements on its Quality Improvement Organization contractors.

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Revised Accreditation Deadlines For Round 2 DMEPOS Competitive Bidding

In order to participate in the Medicare Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) Competitive Bidding Program, suppliers must meet quality standards and be accredited by a CMS-approved Deemed Accreditation Organization.

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Consensus On Medicare Bill Unlikely Before Upcoming Break

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus says a bipartisan agreement on a Medicare bill is unlikely before the upcoming Memorial Day break. And among the reasons for the lack of a consensus is a sharp difference of opinion between Republicans and Demo

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CMS Slates Special Open Door Forum On Wage Index Reform

CMS will hold a Special Open Door Forum, 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. EDT, Tuesday, May 20, to provide an opportunity for the public to discuss and share their opinions, suggestions and expertise on the wage index and alternative methods for computing the wage index.

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CMS Zapped by GAO For Its Inability To Ensure Nursing Home Quality

The Government Accountability Office has just released report focusing on the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services' apparent inability to accurately monitor the effectiveness of states in ensuring nursing home quality of care.

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CMS to Host Second National Education Call May 27

CMS will host the second national education conference call to address the implementation of the new Medicare Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies Competitive Bidding program scheduled to begin on July 1.

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Analysis: Presidential Candidates' Healthcare Reform Plans

As Illinois Democrat Sen. Barack Obama closes in on his party's presidential nomination, he and his opponent, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), continue to present their respective plans for fixing the nation's ailing healthcare system at forums throughout the country.

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Senators Push Bill To House Gulf Coast Seniors

Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Thad Cochran (R-MS), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) have introduced a bill to address the shortage of housing for Gulf Coast low-income seniors and disabled people who were displaced as a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

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FTC Commissioner Rosch Tapped As ALJ In Controversial Case

The Federal Trade Commission has designated Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch as the administrative law judge (ALJ) in the administrative trial on the merits challenging the proposed acquisition by Inova Health System Foundation of Prince William Health System Inc. (PWHS).

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Legislation To Postpone Docs' Pay Cut May Stall In Senate

The Senate's preoccupation with a supplemental spending bill to continue funding U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan could delay action on legislation that would delay a 10.6% Medicare physician fee cut.

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Undoing The Early Social Security Benefits Option

If you or someone you know opted to take Social Security benefits before reaching full retirement age and now regret having done so, there may be an answer.

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Commonwealth Fund Provides Grants Nationwide

The mission of this independent foundation is to promote a high performing healthcare system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for society's most vulnerable, including elderly adults.

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Medicare Expands Coverage For Artificial Heart Devices

CMS has issued a final National Coverage Determination expanding Medicare coverage of artificial hearts when they are implanted as part of a study that is approved by the Food & Drug Administration and that meets CMS' Coverage with Evidence Development clinical research criteria.

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Hearing Focuses On Government's Hiring, Retention Of Older Workers

Over the next five years, more than half a million permanent full-time federal employees-or about one-third of the full-time federal workforce-will be eligible to retire. In 10 years, more than 60% of the federal workforce will be retirement-eligible. Such were the core issues discussed Wednesday (April 30) during a Senate Special Committee on Aging.

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Leavitt Wants Fiscal 'Trigger Points' to Deal with Problems in Medicare

Health & Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt today (April 29) recommends that a series of fiscal trigger points be established that would force action to control Medicare costs so the financial disaster faced by a system in which fewer and fewer workers are paying for more and more beneficiaries can be avoided.

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HHS, Cleveland Clinic Collaborate On Treatment For Neurological Disorders

The Department of Health & Human Services and Cleveland Clinic are teaming up to raise awareness about deep brain stimulation and its impact on Americans with neurological disorders and disabilities.

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Conference to Focus On 'Medicare: Past, Present & Future'

The conference will examine the past, present and future of Medicare, with keynote addresses from Dr. Peter Orszag, Director of the Congressional Budget Office, and Dr. Mark B. McClellan, former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

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New Index Shows What It Takes To Age With Dignity

Wider Opportunities for Women, a Washington, DC-based organization working to build pathways to economic independence for America's families, women and girls, is poised to launch the Elder Economic Security Index, a geographically based measure of the income older Americans need to age with dignity.

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House OKs Measure To Halt CMS-Backed Medicaid Reductions

The U.S. House of Representatives, by a vote of 349-62, passes important, bipartisan legislation which would impose one-year moratoria on seven Medicaid regulations which advocates view as highly detrimental to care of America's most vulnerable seniors.

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May Is Older Americans Month, But Should We Celebrate?

May marks the 45th anniversary of "Older Americans Month." Originally established by President John F. Kennedy in 1963, the month is set aside to honor those age 65-plus. However, Ilyse Shapiro, founder of the job search website MyPartTimePRO.com, wonders whether we should still be celebrating when so many of seniors cannot live the idealized picture we have of our golden years.

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HHS Moves To Keep Docs' Data Private

HHS has filed an appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia of an August 2007 court decision requiring the HHS to release Medicare claims data on more than 40 million beneficiaries and 700,000 physicians.

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Ad Campaign Launched To Encourage Men's Health Awareness

The Department of Health & Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality AHRQ has joined with The Advertising Council to launch a national public service campaign designed to raise awareness among middle-aged men about the importance of preventive medical testing.

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Court of Appeals Upholds PCMA Challenge to D.C. Law

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in a unanimous three-judge decision, has issued an opinion supporting the position of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA) and holding that it is entitled to renew its constitutional challenge to the fiduciary-disclosure provisions of the District of Columbia's AccessRx Act of 2004.

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If you know a friend or colleague who would benefit from having access to the more than 1,000 postings on Aging News Alert's online news service, let him or her know about our no-strings-attached FREE two-week trial subscription offer.

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National Healthcare Decisions Day

April 16 is National Healthcare Decisions Day -- a nationwide initiative designed to raise public awareness of the need to plan ahead for healthcare decisions and to encourage the use of advance directives to communicate important healthcare decisions.

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McCain Proposes Higher Medicare Drug Benefit Premiums for Some Beneficiaries

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (AR-AZ) on Tuesday during a speech at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University said he plans to push a legislative proposal that would require higher-income Medicare beneficiaries to pay higher monthly premiums for the Part D prescription drug benefit.

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Healthcare Work Force Too Small, Unprepared For Boomers

As the first of the nation's 78 million baby boomers begin reaching age 65 in 2011, they will face a healthcare work force that is too small and woefully unprepared to meet their specific health needs, says a new report from the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine.

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Event Focuses On Improving Healthcare System for Aging Population

New York Academy of Medicine's Section on Health Care Delivery on April 22 will host a presentation, "Transitions in Care for Older Adults."

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VA Rewriting Regs for VA Benefits Claims

The Department of Veterans Affairs proposes to reorganize and rewrite in plain language its regulations involving VA benefits claims.

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Webcast In Preparation for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

AoA's Nat'l Center on Elder Abuse is hosting an April 15 webcast to raise awareness of victims of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation, and to encourage people to begin thinking about how they might recognize World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

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CMS Unveils 2009 Medicare Advantage Payment Rates

CMS releases its Announcement of Calendar Year 2009 Medicare Advantage Capitation Rates and MA and Part D Payment Policies.

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Medicare Coverage of Power Mobility Devices: Tips & Reminders

When it comes to obtaining Medicare coverage for Mobility Assistive Equipment, coverage criteria -- particularly patient assessment standards -- continue to be misunderstood by providers and beneficiaries, say experts at the Washington, DC-based Center for Medicare Advocacy.

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CMS Releases Rule Aimed At Modernizing Dialysis Centers

CMS has released a final rule that is intended to modernize the Medicare conditions for coverage for the nation's dialysis centers and promote higher quality of care for patients receiving dialysis.

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Need Info on Health & Aging? Have We Got A Deal For You

The American Geriatrics Society Foundation for Health in Aging publishes tip sheets on Health & Aging that can be downloaded and used in health fairs, education with elders, etc.

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Stark Blasts Leavitt For Making 'Alarmist Statements' About Medicare

House Ways & Means health subcommittee Chairman Pete Stark is railing against Health & Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt for making "alarmist statements" regarding Medicare's future.

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$2.2 Million In Penalties Sought Against CA Hearing Aid Maker

FDA is seeking a $2.2 million penalty against a California hearing aid manufacturer for violations of federal law, including manufacturing standards violations and the failure to notify the FDA of a change in an outside supplier or vendor, which may have exposed recipients of the devices to unnecessary health risks.

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More Medicaid Beneficiaries Could Get Home & Community-Based Care

Thousands of Medicaid beneficiaries who were previously limited to receiving care in an institutional setting may now be given the option to receive that care in their homes and communities, under a proposed rule published today by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

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High Court Declines To Hear Legal Challenge To EEOC Rule

The U.S. Supreme Court this week declined to hear a legal challenge brought by AARP regarding an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruling that permits employers to reduce benefits for retirees who reach age 65 and become eligible for Medicare.

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Studies: Older People Want Technology to Help Them Remain at Home

Older adults want to use technology so they can age safely in their home. Family caregivers agree believing technology can ease some of the challenges of caregiving. Concerns such as cost to install and maintain equipment remain barriers for people 65-plus and for caregivers.

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Ending the Medicare Doomsday Predictions Once and For All

The Medicare Board of Trustees on Tuesday, March 25, released its annual report examining the fiscal status of Medicare. As expected, the Trustees issued a 'Medicare funding warning' based on the proportion of general revenues financing the Medicare program.

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Weinberg Foundation Offers $9 Million In Grants for Caregivers, Informal Care

The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, one of the nation's largest private philanthropies with more than $2.2 billion in assets and annual distributions of approximately $110 million, has unveiled an innovative program to provide $9 million in grants to assist caregivers nationwide.

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PCMA: 'Prompt Pay' Legislation Could Cost Medicare $3.3 Billion Over Next Decade

Legislation that would make Medicare prescription drug plans pay drugstores twice as fast as Medicare pays other providers could cost the program and its beneficiaries at least $3.3 billion over the next decade, finds a new by PricewaterhouseCoopers that was commissioned by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association.

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AARP's Reinhard Named Ladd Award Recipient for 2008

Susan Reinhard, AARP senior VP and director of AARP's Public Policy Institute, has been selected as the recipient of the 2008 Dick Ladd Award. The award recognizes an individual whose work in research, policy or programs improves long‑term and community‑based care.

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24th National Home & Community Based Services Conference -- Call For Sessions

The National Association of State Units on Aging and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs have announced a Call for Sessions for the 24th National Home and Community Based Services Conference.

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Aging Experts to Convene In Philadelphia

To help you better serve your senior clientele, the National Aging in Place Council has assembled an impressive group of aging experts to discuss current trends.

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Medicare To Save Average of 26% For Some DMEPOS

A new method of paying for some items of medical equipment and supplies means that Medicare beneficiaries who use those items in ten select regions of the country will see average savings of 26 percent.

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2nd Annual Rachel Carson Intergenerational Poetry, Essay and Photo Contest

The EPA Aging Initiative, in partnership with Generations United and the Rachel Carson Council Inc., is inviting submissions for its Second Annual Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder Intergenerational Poetry, Essay and Photography Contest.

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92-Year-Old Bowler Hits the Lanes Again Thanks to Video Game

Dorothy Rovin, 92, has been a bowler longer than most people have been alive. Today, she has moved her game off the hardwood lanes and into the digital world, thanks to her involvement in the new Wii Bowling League at the Lafayette-Redeemer, Holy Redeemer Health System's independent, assisted-living and long-term care facility.

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AARP Urges Congress to Support House, Senate Budgets

AARP is urging members of Congress to support the House and Senate budget resolutions and to oppose harmful amendments that would negatively impact older Americans.

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AHCA Rails Against MedPAC's Recommendations on SNFs

The American Health Care Association expresses strong opposition to the MedPAC's recommendation to the House health subcommittee that skilled nursing facilities should receive no inflationary market basket update for FY 2009.

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MedPAC Eyes Draft Recommendations On Nursing Homes, Drug Benefit, Primary Care

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission is reviewing draft recommendations to Congress regarding skilled nursing facilities, prescription drug plans and primary care.

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GOP Lawmakers Press for Tougher MA Plan Marketing Rules

Rep. Jim McCrery (R-LA), ranking Republican on the House Ways & Means Committee, and Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), ranking Republican on the Health subcommittee, are in the process of gathering signatures from their GOP colleagues for a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services seeking tougher rules governing the marketing of private Medicare Advantage plans.

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Senate Panel Hears that Elderly Would be Helped by Farm Bill Passage

Several witnesses at a March 5 hearing of the Senate Special Committee on Aging urge passage of a farm bill that contains provisions which would increase food stamp benefits for the elderly, make more seniors eligible for food stamps and reduce barriers that inhibit seniors from applying

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Groups Press CMS on Drug Coverage For Low-Income People

Nineteen groups that advocate on behalf of people with Medicare are telling the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that the agency's approach to preventing certain Medicare beneficiaries from having to change their Medicare drug plans will not work.

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Senate Aging Committee Reviews Study on Hunger Among Seniors

The Senate Special Committee on Aging's March 5 hearing served as venue for the release of a startling new study from the Meals On Wheels Association of America Foundation's -- "The Causes, Consequences and Future of Senior Hunger in America."

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Growing Prevalence of Diabetes Found in Nursing Homes

One in four nursing home residents over 65 had diabetes and was at an increased risk for conditions affecting their quality of life, according to new research report from the Institute for the Future of Aging Services.

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Serious Questions Raised About CMS' New Medicaid Rules

The House Oversight & Government Reform Committee has unveiled a new report detailing the state-by-state impacts of seven regulations issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service that would make major, wide-ranging changes in Medicaid, the nation's largest low-income healthcare program.

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DeMint: 'Stop The Raid On Social Security'

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) wants to force a vote during the budget resolution on an amendment that would require Congress to stop borrowing Social Security surpluses.

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Los Angeles County Seen As Hot Spot For DMEPOS Fraud

The Dept. of Health & Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) has just issued a stinging report focusing on compliance failures by Los Angeles County durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supply (DMEPOS) suppliers.

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Lindbergh Seeks Life Improvements

The Lindbergh Foundation honors Charles A. & Anne Morrow Lindbergh's legacy by funding projects to improve the quality of all life by seeking a balance between technological advancements and environmental preservation.

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Panel To Review First-Year Diabetes Measure

The National Committee for Quality Assurance will convene an expert panel to examine recent evidence with respect to intensive hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) control among patients with diabetes.

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CMS Identifies $371.5M In Improper Medicare Payments In Three States

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) says $371.5 million in improper Medicare payments has been collected from or repaid to healthcare providers and suppliers as part of a demonstration program using recovery audit contractors (RACs) in California, Florida and New York in 2007.

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AAHomecare Poised for Upcoming Legislative Conference

Homecare providers, patients, and other stakeholders will gather in Washington on March 4-6 for the American Association for Homecare (AAHomecare) Washington Legislative Conference.

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Workshop Will Examine Medicare's Funding Warning

On Thursday, March 6, the Kaiser Family Foundation will hold a 9:30 a.m. (EST) policy workshop to examine the so-called "45% trigger" and its implications for this year's budget debate and Medicare's long-term fiscal health.

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Family Structure Shapes Mid-Life Retirement Planning

A new MetLife study finds that 40-65-year-olds with non-traditional families face more challenges with regard to saving and investing and are less likely than others to have a distinct retirement vision.

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Heinz Fellowship in Issues of the Aging Now Accepting Applications

The John Heinz Senate Fellowship program provides an opportunity for mid-career professionals in aging to learn public policy as a member of the U.S. Senate staff.

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Novel Approach Strips Staph of Virulence

An international team of researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health has blocked staph infections in mice using a drug previously tested in clinical trials as a cholesterol-lowering agent.

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Caremark Pays $38 Million To Settle Drug-Switching Case

Pharmacy benefits management company Caremark has agreed to pay $38.5 million in a multi-state settlement of allegations that it deceived patients when it encouraged them to switch prescription drugs under the pretense of saving money.

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GAO Honcho to Step Down; Becomes Head of the Newly Formed Foundation

David Walker, Comptroller General of the United States and head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has announced his intention to resign his post effective March 12 and will accept the position of president and CEO of the newly established Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

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FTC Staff Issues Advisory Opinion on Kaiser Foundation Health Plan

The Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Competition has advised Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. regarding Kaiser's purchase and use of discounted pharmaceuticals in connection with a proposed program to provide healthcare services to people covered under health benefits plans offered by self-insured employers.

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NAR Seeks Homeownership Protection For Older Americans

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) on Feb. 13 told members of the Senate Special Committee on Aging that foreclosure rescue scams have caused major problems for many Americans and that older Americans and other vulnerable borrowers are frequently targets.

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Attorneys General Press Congress On Background Checks For Nursing Home Workers

Thirty-nine state-level attorneys general and three state authorities that house Medicaid Fraud Control Units have fired off a letter to members of Congress in support of the proposed Patient Safety & Abuse Prevention Act of 2007.

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Senate Passes Stimulus Plan; House to Move Quickly

The Senate late Thursday afternoon (Feb. 7) passed an economic stimulus measure that would send $600-$1,200 in rebates to most taxpayers and $300 to low-income people, including disabled veterans and the elderly.

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Income-related Part D Premiums Seen Costly for Medicare Beneficiaries

President Bush's proposed FY 2009 budget proposes establishment of an income-related Part D premium structure, similar to the income-related Part B premium -- a proposal the Washington, DC-based Center for Medicare Advocacy (CMA) finds most troubling.

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Gerontology Conference To Include Talks on Social Networking

The Association for Gerontology in Higher Education will hold its 34th Annual Meeting & Educational Leadership Conference on Feb. 21-24 at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore, MD.

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Seniors' Advocate: Misplaced Priorities Put Industry Profits Ahead of Seniors' Healthcare Spending

The head of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, Barbara Kennelly, a former Democratic congresswoman from Conneticut, is railing against the Bush Administration's FY 2009 budget.

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Advocate: Proposed Cuts Will Harm Hospitals, Help Insurance Industry

The president's proposed cuts in Medicare will ultimately harm seniors, disabled people and anyone who needs hospital care, says the executive director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy.

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Committee on Aging Tackles Challenges Facing Older Voters

Making certain older voters or other people with disabilities are able to cast votes in an election requires policymakers to think broadly about access, senior-level officials from the Government Accountability Office told the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

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IRS Warns of New E-Mail, Phone Scams

The Internal Revenue Service is warning taxpayers -- especially the elderly -- to beware of several current e-mail and telephone scams that use the IRS name as a lure.

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House OKs Stimulus Bill Sans Medicaid Funds; Senate Amendment Would Include Funding

House lawmakers vote 385-35 in favor of a $146 billion economic stimulus package that does not include a temporary increase in the federal medical assistance percentage for states' Medicaid programs.

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Advocacy Group Exec: 'President Punts on Medicare'

President Bush, during his Monday night State of the Union speech, "punted on Medicare, lumping together Medicare with Medicaid and Social Security and telling Congress to fix them," says Judith Stein, executive director of the Washington, DC-based Center for Medicare Advocacy (CMA).The CMA works on...

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U. of Colorado to Lead Research in Animal-Assisted Therapy

As relationships between humans and animals become more important and more complex, there is growing evidence of the effectiveness of therapy involving humans -- especially the elderly -- and animals.

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Senators Seek Task Force on Financial Stability of Entitlement Programs

The leadership of the Senate Budget Committee signaled this past week it will seek a vote on a bill (S 2063) introduced last September aimed at strengthening the long-term financial stability of Medicare and other entitlement programs.

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Revisions Planned for Nursing Home Compliance Program Guidance

The Dept. of Health & Human Services' Office of Inspector General is seeking comment from interested parties as OIG revises the compliance program guidance for nursing facilities, especially those serving Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal healthcare program beneficiaries.

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Ahead of Bush Speech, Advocate Calls for Medicare Support

Anticipating President Bush's final State of the Union speech, the executive director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy calls for an economic stimulus package that will help the nation's seniors, disabled people and taxpayers.

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New Federal Poverty Level Guidelines to Affect Medicare, Medicaid

New federal poverty level guidelines published this week will affect eligibility levels for many public benefits, including health benefits for older people and people with disabilities.

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FDA Under Pressure to Explain Genesis of Controversial Guidance

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) has fired off a strongly worded letter to Food & Drug Admin. Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach, demanding release of documents related to the FDA's controversial draft guidance on off-label use of drugs and medical devices.

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CMS Adds Phone Lines for Important Open Door Forum

As a result of high demand for participation in the Special Minimum Data Set 3.0 Special Open Door Forum, CMS has worked hard to obtain additional lines to accommodate as many telephone participants as possible. If you haven't had the opportunity to register, now is your chance.

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OIG Audits Part D Rx Drug Costs

Medicare Part D payments, excluding dispensing fees, to local, community pharmacies exceeded the pharmacies' drug acquisition costs by an estimated 18.1%, OIG finds.

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Experts Explore Projected LTC Needs

The projections of monetary and human resources needed to meet the long-term care needs of seniors are daunting, but experts at an Urban Institute (UI) forum offer myriad suggestions in an optimistic tone for meeting the challenges.

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PBM Tools Helped Restrain Drug Spending Growth

While expanded access and use of prescription drugs among Medicare seniors drove drug trend higher in 2006, greater use of generic medicines "helped restrain drug spending growth in 2006," find the authors of a new report from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

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New Aging-Related Resources on the Web

Aging News Alert offers a quick update of the newest aging-related resources on the Internet.

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Bad News for Beneficiaries: CMS Decreases Medicare Summary Notices

Just when you thought the government was done tinkering with Medicare, the feds pull a fast one. In the fall of 2007, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) changed the delivery schedule for Medicare Summary Notices (MSNs).

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Candidates' Healthcare Proposals: Side-by-Side Summary

The Kaiser Family Foundation has created an interesting online tool that allows users to customize side-by-side comparisons of the 2008 presidential candidates' positions on healthcare.

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Home Medical Equipment Providers Fight Proposed Bid Program

Ohio's Medicaid agency has scheduled a Jan. 9 hearing in Columbus, OH regarding the proposed rule for Durable Medical Equipment (DME) restrictive contracting.

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Congress Will Look at Medicare Pay Cuts First Half of 2008

Congress is likely to tackle Medicare issues during the first half of 2008, Capitol Hill sources tell us.

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New York Times Blasts Medicare Advantage Plans

Numerous Medicare Advantage (MA) plans "prey on elderly Americans despite state, federal and industry efforts to stop them," The New York Times said in a Dec. 26 editorial, adding that this is "yet another reason to rein in these operations by eliminating their unjustified subsidies."

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'Inappropriate Accounting' at Sunrise Senior Living

The accounting mishap bug that bit so many large companies, including government-sponsored mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, appears to have sunk its teeth into one of senior housing's top players. And it has led to the sacking of some of the company's top officials.

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Doctor Gets 10.5-Year Prison Term for Medicare Fraud

A Michigan dermatologist has been sentenced to a term of 126 months' imprisonment on 31 counts of healthcare fraud.

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Four Cardiac Surgeons Pay $2.5 Million for False Medicare Claims

Four cardiac surgeons have agreed to pay the United States $2.5 million to settle claims that their practice submitted false claims to federally-funded health programs, including Medicare and Medicaid.

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Targeting Caregivers: How to Help Them Help Their Loved One

An estimated 34 million Americans provide care for a family member or friend aged 50+, according to AARP. Many of these caregivers are themselves over 50. And their help is not just hands-on, but also from the wallet.

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P4P Experiments Attract Interest, But Data about Effectiveness Is Scarce

Pay-for-performance initiatives have attracted a growing interest among those who think financial incentives can affect physician behavior to improve healthcare outcomes but there is a paucity of evidence about the effectiveness of these efforts

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OIG Probes Medicare Costs Associated with Hospice Care

HHS' Office of Inspector General found that beneficiaries in nursing facilities tended to be older and more likely to have ill-defined conditions, and their time in care was longer and more costly.

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Advocacy Group Endorses Measure to Halt COLA Erosion

The proposed "Social Security COLA Protection Act of 2007", introduced by Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), garners strong support from the Washington, DC-based seniors' advocacy group, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare (NCPSSM).

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Overview of Senate-Passed Medicare Legislation

Medicare legislation passed by the Senate will stop a 10% cut in federal reimbursement of Medicare doctors for six months and provide a half-percent update in payments, and will extend a number of expiring provisions vital to seniors' care under the program.

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CMS Taps 5 Organizations for Senior Risk Demo Project

It's been nearly two years since CMS first announced plans to embark on a demonstration project aimed at promoting health and wellness for seniors by way of preventive healthcare techniques.

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OIG Urges Stronger Medicare Rx Drug Program Oversight

HHS' Office of Inspector General found that Medicare drug plans haven't met all requirements for tracking out-of-pocket spending by beneficiaries in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program.

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Report Suggests State-Level Action To Support Caregivers

A new report from MIT in Cambridge, MA, provides a comprehensive set of recommendations for state-level public policy to improve the quality of life of family caregivers.

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GAO Honcho: Serious Weaknesses Affecting Financial Systems

"If the federal government was a private corporation and the same report came out this morning, our stock would be dropping and there would be talk about whether the company's management and directors needed a major shake-up," GAO honcho David Walker tells an audience in Washington, DC.

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Senate Panel Eyes Reverse Mortgages

Prompted by litigation and reports of lenders leading seniors into inappropriate loans, the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging holds a hearing to investigate the explosive growth of the reverse mortgage industry.

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Nominations for the Achievement in Environmental Justice Award

EPA seeks nominations for the Achievement in Environmental Justice Awards. Nominations must be postmarked by Jan. 11, 2008.

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PBS Poised for Special Project on Alzheimer's

PBS is about to air "The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer's" -- a two-hour special aimed at helping people better understand and cope with the fearsome disease of Alzheimer's.

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CMS to Set Accreditation Deadlines at Open Door Forum

CMS will hold a special "Open Door Forum" on Dec. 19 to announce the deadline by which all durable medical equipment providers will need to be accredited.

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Retirement for Low-Income Workers Could Be Less Secure

So-called "direct contribution" savings plans can provide a meaningful contribution to retirement security for some workers but may not ensure the retirement security of lower-income workers, finds the Government Accountability Office in a new report.

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Study: Seniors Unable To Afford Rx Drugs

A least two-thirds of seniors in California can't afford their perscription medications, find the authors of a new study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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Medicare Package May Be Added to Alternative Minimum Tax Bill

Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives will not include a Medicare package in an omnibus spending bill, but they may try to add it to a highly controversial bill redefining the alternative minimum tax.

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Democrats' Budget Plan Falls Apart; New One Adheres More Closely to Bush's

The chairman of the House Appropriations Committee has decided not to introduce a $522 billion omnibus budget package that was to have included the FY 2008 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill (HR3043) and 10 more unapproved appropriations bills, as well as additional funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Baucus Cancels Medicare Mark-Up to Negotiate With House Democrats

Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-MT) on Wednesday canceled plans for a mark-up of Medicare legislation in order to give himself more time to negotiate with House Democrats on the measure

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Age Discrimination Law a Success, but Needs Improvement

While the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) has improved conditions for older workers, is "a work in progress," says John Rother. director of policy and strategy for AARP.

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Seniors' Advocates Urge Reform of Medicare Advantage

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare and the Alliance for Retired Americans have delivered 48,000 petitions signed by seniors from around the nation asking the Senate to eliminate or reduce billions in insurance industry subsidies to private Medicare providers.

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Guide Helps Elders Find Health Information Online

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) has developed a free training curriculum for those who teach and work with older adults.

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Expert Explains Why Brains Get Better With Age

Contrary to long-held beliefs that brain power inevitably declines as we age, the mind actually experiences a surge of creativity and brain function well into the second half of life.

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DC Caregivers' Support Program Wins National Innovation Award

   The District of Columbia's Caregivers' Institute (DCCI) finally was established permanently as a program of the city's Office on Aging late last year after five years in pilot status. The results are good enough to win recently one of the top awards from the Nat'l Assn. of Area Agencies...

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