Health and Aging News, #3,
By Joan Aragone
Today’s blog features more news on nursing home ratings and the sorry state of available housing for the US’s aging population.
Medicare, whose widely used ratings for nursing home quality were discovered to have been based in part on false information provided by several facilities, has tightened procedures and announced a new rating system to take effect in January.
Below is the lead to a detailed New York Times story on the new ratings. In the future, perhaps “gaming the system” won’t be so easy.
‘MEDICARE REVISES NURSING HOME RATING SYSTEM’
By Katie Thomas, New York Times, October 6, 2014
“The federal government on Monday (October 6) announced substantial changes to the government’s five-star rating program for nursing homes, a widely used consumer tool that has been criticized for its reliance on self-reported, unverified data.
The five-star rating system has become the gold standard for evaluating the nation’s more than 15,000 nursing homes since it was put in place five years ago, even though two of the major criteria used to rate the facilities — staffing levels and quality statistics — are reported by the nursing homes themselves and generally are not audited by the federal government.
To read the entire story, search online for “Medicare Revises Nursing Home Rating System,” New York Times.
HARVARD, AARP RESEARCHERS TRACK HOUSING CRISIS FOR SENIORS
As the US population ages, researchers from Harvard University and the AARP Foundation have documented a serious and growing shortage of appropriate housing for America’s seniors. The study is found at www.aarp.org/aarp-foundation. Click on “housing.” Below is a lead-in to the Sept 2 MarketWatch story on the subject by Amy Hoak:
‘Aging Population Faces Housing Shortage’
“The housing needs of older Americans aren’t being met.
By 2030, the number of U.S. adults age 50 and older will grow to 132 million — up 70% compared with 2000, according to a report released Tuesday (Sept. 2), by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies and AARP Foundation. The rise can be attributed to the massive baby boomer generation climbing in age, as well as greater longevity among older Americans.
And the country is not prepared to meet their housing needs.”
To read the remainder of the story, search online for: “’Aging Population Faces Housing Shortage/Market Watch”
OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD FOR MEDICARE PLANS
From Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, Medicare recipients have the opportunity to change coverage. If you have Original Medicare or are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan and want to change, this is the time to move from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage or the reverse–from a Medicare Advantage Plan to Original Medicare. You can also switch among Medicare Advantage Plans and change drug plans.
Medicare Advantage plans may offer coverage not provided by Original Medicare, such as vision and dental. But such programs differ from each other and usually charge an additional monthly premium. You need to compare plans to find which is best for you.
The easiest way to find information and assistance is to contact your local Medicare insurance counseling office. For no charge, a trained counselor will explain programs in your area, and compare costs and coverage.
Nationally, the counseling program is called SHIP, “State Health Insurance Assistance Program,” but several states have adopted individual titles. In California the service is referred to as HICAP, “Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program.” Counselors are available in several locations in every California county. To find a SHIP office in your state, search online under “SHIP counseling program” for telephone numbers and addresses. Every state is listed. In California, search under “HICAP counseling” or call 1-800-434-0222 for an appointment.
To find available plans in your area online, go to www.medicare.gov.
GERIATRIC SPECIALIST TO SPEAK ON “ELDER FRAUD AND DEMENTIA”
Geriatric specialist Elizabeth Landsverk, M.D., will speak on Elder Fraud and Dementia, Thursday, Nov. 6, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Silverado Belmont Hills, 1301 Ralston Avenue, Belmont. RSVP by Thursday Nov. 4th to email@example.com or (650) 654-9700. Free.
ALZHEIMER’S ASSOCIATION PRESENTS CIRCLE OF CARE NOV. 8
The Alzheimer’s Association presents the 10thAnnual Circle of Care Conference for Families, Saturday, Nov. 8 from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Crowne Plaza Hotel, 1221 Chess Drive, Foster City, CA. For information and to register, contact Blanca Vazquez-Arias, firstname.lastname@example.org, or call: 800-272-3900.
AURORA MANDOLIN ORCHESTRA IN SAN FRANCISCO NOV. 8
The popular Aurora Mandolin Orchestra, led by Jo Pellegrini, with special guest, soprano Susanna Uher Jimenez, will perform a variety of melodies Saturday, Nov. 8, from 2 to 4 p.m., San Francisco Main Library, Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin St. at Grove, San Francisco. Free.