Health Care Bill Endangers Coverage: A Message From AARP

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Premiums would become unaffordable for many older Americans: Originally published |Comments: 14

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New Numbers: Same Bad Bill
The Congressional Budget Office just released its report on the health care bill. What does it mean for you?

A new analysis of the American Health Care Act passed by the House of Representatives estimates that 23 million people would lose their health insurance if the bill were enacted into law. People age 50 to 64 would be hit particularly hard, especially those with lower incomes.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), premiums for a 64-year-old earning $26,500 a year would increase by a whopping $14,400 in 2026. In addition, people with preexisting conditions may not even be able to purchase health insurance because the prices would be prohibitively high.


Three weeks ago, the House voted 217 to 213 to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without waiting for the CBO to analyze the effects of the legislation. Today the CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) provided their assessment, which is required before the bill can be sent to the Senate for consideration.

Among other things, the CBO estimated a reduction in the deficit of $119 billion under the bill over a 10-year period.  The bill would lower health-related spending by the federal government through steep reductions in Medicaid and the replacement of current subsidies with less-generous tax credits. At the same time, the bill would grant large tax cuts to drugmakers and insurance companies.

The congressional analysts warn that for a significant segment of the population, the individual insurance market “would start to become unstable in 2020” because of two provisions added to the House bill in the days before the May 4 vote. One would allow states to receive waivers allowing insurers to eliminate coverage for essential health benefits, such as emergency services, hospitalization and chronic disease management. The other is a waiver that would allow insurers, contrary to current law, to charge higher premiums to people with preexisting conditions such as cancer and diabetes.

According to the report, “less healthy people would face extremely high premiums” in states likely to receive these waivers. “People who are less healthy (including those with preexisting or newly acquired medical conditions) would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive nongroup health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all.”

AARP reiterated its strong opposition to the bill and called on the Senate to shelve the House-passed legislation. AARP said the bill would impose an “age tax” on older Americans by allowing insurers to charge premiums five times what they charge others and cutting the current level of subsidies.

“The CBO analysis found that premiums would go up to unaffordable levels by inflicting an age tax and removing current protections for people with common conditions including diabetes and weight gain,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President. “Putting a greater financial burden on older Americans is not the way to solve the problems in our health care system.”

AARP said it rejected the bill because it worsens the financial outlook for Medicare by reducing Medicare’s revenue and slashes Medicaid spending by over $800 billion over 10 years.

 

Trump Calls for a Massive Cut in Medicaid

New budget proposal also would slash health research funding

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AARP Opposes Proposed Budget
It cut billions from programs older Americans depend on
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En español | The Trump administration today released a federal budget proposal that would cut more than a trillion dollars over 10 years from Medicaid, the nation’s largest source of health care coverage, which provides a lifeline for children and adults with disabilities and low-income seniors.  Under the president’s proposal, Medicaid would face a $600 billion decrease. That’s in addition to the more than $800 billion cut in the American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed this month by the House of Representatives.

The budget, released while President Trump was in the Middle East on his first foreign trip as president, also would shrink funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Social Security disability, environmental protection, and housing and transportation assistance.

At the urging of the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump, the budget proposes spending $25 billion over the next 10 years on paid parental leave, a new initiative.

Members of both parties in the House and the Senate have strongly opposed trimming Medicaid in the past.

Many of the other cuts also face strong bipartisan opposition on Capitol Hill. For example, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, has sharply criticized the cuts earmarked for the NIH and CDC.

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney reiterated the administration’s view that the AHCA does not go far enough on Medicaid. “We go another half a step further and ratchet down some of the growth rates that are assumed into AHCA,” he said in a call with reporters on Monday.

During today’s press briefing, Mulvaney said that “we’re no longer going to measure compassion by the number of programs or the number of people on those programs, but by the number of people we help get off of those programs.”

AARP staked out a strong position against the president’s budget.

AARP “opposes the budget proposed today because it explicitly harms the very people we are counting on the President to protect,” said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond in a statement. “Today’s budget proposes to cut Social Security benefits, as well as funding for critical health, hunger, housing and transportation assistance to low and middle income seniors.  The budget sends a powerful message to older Americans and their families that their health and financial security is at risk.”

AARP sounded a positive note on the administration’s parental leave initiative. “We do want to acknowledge the Administration’s paid leave proposal,” LeaMond said.  “Although it must be improved so that it addresses the workplace needs of family caregivers, we hope that it leads to a national conversation about ways to support family caregivers in the workplace.”

The budget assumes economic growth reaching 3 percent a year by 2021, a figure widely seen as unrealistic.

The budget also includes a dramatic decrease in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. “If you are on food stamps, we need you to go to work,” said Mulvaney. “If you are on disability and should not be, we need you to go back to work.”

The president’s budget is the first step in a lengthy process. Congress will set its own priorities as it develops its own budget resolution.


A Senior Caregiver’s Guide to Prevent Falls A Guest Post by Roger Sims

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Falls are the primary cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in the elderly. Every year, more than two million seniors are rushed to the emergency room after falling.

Several things can lead to the elderly falling, such as:

  • Vision problems
  • Difficulty walking
  • Medication side effects that cause vertigo
  • Foot or leg pain
  • Household hazards

There is nothing to worry about, as it is easy to eliminate risk factors for falling. Fortunately, falls are easily preventable. Taking the right precautions can make your loved one’s home a safe environment. To ensure the safety of your loved ones, take the following steps to avoid these accidents.

Removing Household Hazards

Household hazards are the easiest risk to eliminate. As your parents get older, mobility can become an issue. Start by removing clutter around your house. These potential hazards include things like electrical cords, loose rugs, and knick-knacks. Clear all pathways of objects they might trip over, and do a thorough examination of their home.

You may find you’ll have to do minor repairs to correct a sloping step, broken tile, or loose floorboard. Rearrange their furniture so they will always have something stable to hold onto as they walk around. If they use a mobility device like a cane or wheelchair, increase doorway widths to 36 inches so they can maneuver easily.

Addressing Eye Problems      

Of course, removing excess clutter and creating safe pathways won’t help much if they can’t see where they’re going.

Failing eyesight that comes with age can cause elderly people to misjudge distance and depth. Not only would it be hard to determine how far away a table edge is, but they could also have difficulty navigating staircases when going down.

The best way to avoid this issue is to regularly get your elderly loved one’s eyes checked in case their prescription needs to be updated. Encourage them to always wear their prescription glasses, even if it’s just for a short trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Ensure your home is well-lit and light switches are easily accessible. A lack of literal blind spots will aid your aging loved one in moving around the house, regardless of the time of the day.

Reading glasses should not be worn while walking, especially outside. Those who wear progressive lenses should ask their doctors for a separate pair for general outdoor activities, as these types of glasses may interfere with distance perception.

Increasing Physical Activity

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 One of the best ways to help prevent falls is to improve their balance by strengthening their core and lower muscles. As your loved one ages, their physical fitness and abilities may begin to decline. Muscle tone will gradually disappear and flexibility will decrease. This can be easily combatted by regularly engaging in light exercise.

Activities that focus on strengthening the core, improving strength in the lower extremities, and improving balance are suggested to any senior looking to start a new exercise program. For caregivers, check out your local community centers to find fitness classes that are senior citizen friendly. Tai Chi is one often-recommended exercise. If you can’t find a class your aging loved one would like to join, simply encouraging them to walk a little bit each day is fine.

Some older people may not be inclined to start a new exercise program, for any number of reasons. In such a situation, offering to join your aging loved one in classes or short walks every day may encourage them to participate. Not only will you be helping them stay fit, but you’ll also be able to bond with them over a new activity.

For elderly individuals who already have trouble walking unassisted, it may be advisable to invest in equipment that allows them to walk independently while still having constant support. Canes and walkers are ideal for a senior who still wishes to get around but who may already have trouble doing so without a little helping hand.

Implementing Other Safety Precautions

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 Even the ideal physical fitness level for your loved one’s age stands no chance against slippery floors or just plain bad luck. As a final precaution against easily avoidable falls, it’s best to look into safety equipment that can be installed around your home to eliminate any chance of an accident.

 Bathrooms are particularly notorious for slips and spills, for both elderly and young patients. Implementing assistive devices should be a top priority. Look for grab bars that can be attached to shower walls and bathtub sides, as well as non-slip bath mats that allow the elderly to stand without worrying about sliding on wet tiles. For those unable to stand in the shower, a bath chair can make showering a safer and more independent experience. Transfer benches are another option to help your senior get in and out of the shower.

Additionally, installing handrails on both sides of your stairs is recommended to ensure your loved one’s safety when they use the stairs. These handrails can provide a stable device for them to hold onto, but they can also be used in the event of a fall. Grabbing onto the rail can either stop the fall and allow them to steady themselves or can be used for them to get back up.

Providing the elderly with proper-fitting shoes is another important step. Make sure they wear comfortable, well-fitting—and, in the case of the ladies, low-heeled—shoes with a non-slip sole. These are essential in allowing them to move around without added difficulty and preventing them slipping on a wet surface.

Final Thoughts

Remember, if you are caring for an elderly relative, falls don’t have to happen. They are easily avoidable with the right safety precautions and a few additions like assist bars in the shower stall or handrails on the staircase.

Images

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/smiling-young-female-assisting-mature-woman-176324681?src=yz8OPnBNmLZjvdB8rJDgIA-1-70

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/interior-bathroom-disabled-elderly-people-handrail-525831979?src=GJ1MmVS4wrhtvzpJLLZmsQ-1-0

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/senior-couple-doing-sport-outdoors-jogging-127325003?src=G3W_tz2mojGm_EHzoGZn2w-1-4

Sources:

https://www.agingcare.com/Articles/Preventing-elderly-Falls-110499.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/falls-in-elderly-people-133953.htm

http://training.mmlearn.org/blog/senior-fall-prevention-help-for-caregivers

https://www.ncoa.org/healthy-aging/falls-prevention/preventing-falls-tips-for-older-adults-and-caregivers/6-steps-to-protect-your-older-loved-one-from-a-fall/

 

 

 

From the AARP Press Room: AARP Remains Steadfastly Opposed to Health Bill

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Plans to hold Members of Congress accountable while renewing opposition in Senate

WASHINGTON, DC — AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond reiterated AARP’s opposition to the health bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives that would harm American families who count on access to affordable health care:

“AARP is deeply disappointed in today’s vote by the House to pass this deeply flawed health bill. The bill will put an Age Tax on us as we age, harming millions of American families with health insurance, forcing many to lose coverage or pay thousands of dollars more for health care.  In addition, the bill now puts at risk the 25 million older adults with pre-existing conditions, such as cancer and diabetes, who would likely find health care unaffordable or unavailable to them.

“AARP will continue to oppose this bill as it moves to the Senate because it includes an Age Tax on older Americans, eliminates critical protections for those with pre-existing conditions, puts coverage at risk for millions, cuts the life of Medicare, erodes seniors’ ability to live independently, and gives sweetheart deals to big drug and insurance companies while doing nothing to lower the cost of prescriptions.

“We promised to hold members of Congress accountable for their vote on this bill. True to our promise, AARP is now letting its 38 million members know how their elected Representative voted on this health bill in The Bulletin, a print publication that goes to all of our members, as well as through emails, social media, and other communications.”

About AARP
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and advocate for what matters most to families with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also works for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen, high-quality products and services to carry the AARP name.  As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the world’s largest circulation publications, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.

For further information: CONTACT: Media Relations, 202-434-2560, media@aarp.org, @AARPMedia