State and Federal Initiatives and Policies Panel Review

Chicago Bridge’s event on May 16th, 2012 featured Amy Wiatr-Rodriguez, Aging Program Specialist at Administration on Aging, Erin Weir in her new position as Manager of Healthcare Access (previously Healthcare Consumer Protection Coordinator) at AgeOptions, and Collen Ceh, Associate Director of Social Services at Mayslake Village. Phyllis Mitzen from Health & Medicine Policy Research Group moderated the panel. Each panelist provided an excellent overview of issues and policies ranging from topics such as the Affordable Care Act, Older Americans Act Reauthorization, and Housing and Urban Development.

Updates from the Administration on Aging

  • The Administration on Aging, Office on Disability and the Administration on Developmental Disabilities will be housed under a new division: Administration for Community Living (ACL).
  • Older Americans Act Reauthorization, which occurs every 5 years, targets changes to several programs including the National Family Caregiver Support Program, nutrition programs, ombudsmen and legal assistance programs, and evidence-based disease prevention and health promotion.
  • Affordable Care Act offers several funding opportunities for the aging network such as Community Based Care Transitions, Medicaid Health Homes, and Health Care Innovations.
  • National Alzheimer’s Project Act released a Federal Plan on Alzheimer’s disease on May 15th, 2012 to prevent future cases of Alzheimer’s disease and to help those currently affected by the disease.
  • In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (June 15th) a symposium focusing on financial exploitation will be webcast on June 14th at www.whitehouse.gov/live
  •  Helpful links included 1.  http://www.aoa.gov/AoARoot/AoA_Programs/OAA/Reauthorization/Target_Change.aspx 2.   http://aspe.hhs.gov/daltcp/napa/  3.  http://www.aoa.gov/Aging_Statistics/Health_care_reform.aspx

Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicare

  •  Through the ACA, Medicare now covers preventive screenings, which include services such as mammograms, diabetes screenings, cardiovascular screens, and flu shots.
  • Annual wellness visits are often confused with a physical exam. Medicare beneficiaries will continue their “Welcome to Medicare” one-time free physical exam. Erin clarified that the annual wellness visit is a no-cost yearly visit to the doctor to discuss current health issues and prevention measures. Additional services conducted at the wellness visit may have a cost depending on the type of service.
  • The donut hole is scheduled to close by 2020. Currently beneficiaries are responsible for covering 50% of their prescription drug costs for brand name drugs. For generic drugs, beneficiaries are responsible for 86% of the costs.
  • $75-250 billion a year is wasted on Medicare fraud. The ACA is one of the largest legislative efforts to reduce Medicare fraud, waste, and abuse.
  • Helpful links included www.medicare.gov  and www.illinoishealthmatters.org. Chicago Bridge blog author Alexi Vahlkamp wrote a piece on the Medicare Beneficiaries

Trends in Senior Housing and Urban Development

Colleen brought a direct service perspective on the impact of state and federal policies.
  • Social security is a key policy that impacts older adults in subsidized housing as increases in Social Security may also impact expenses and eligibility for programs.
  • Due to economic changes, younger older adult population (62-70) is the fastest growing population looking for subsidized housing.
  • HUD is no longer building efficiency apartments because applicants are demanding more space.
  • Colleen stressed the importance of community relationships in housing, providing the example of forming relationships with home health care agencies that can provide quality certified care to her residents.
  • Helpful links included http://www.elections.il.gov/DistrictLocator/DistrictOfficialSearchByAddress.aspxwww.ssa.gov and http://www.state.il.us/aging/
Special thanks to our panelists who provided great insight into state and federal policies. A special thanks to Health & Medicine Policy Research Group for hosting this wonderful event. Kristen Pavle was the editor of this article!

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