News Roundup – 5-31-2021 (Including link to the National Memorial Day Concert)

On May 31, 2021, Xavier Becerra, Secretary of U.S. Health & Human Services, wrote to Celebrate Older American’s Month by Empowering Older Adults. She began by talking about her father. “I remember working alongside my father during my youth paving and repairing Sacramento roads. My father was a strong man who woke up in the early morning hours every day, went to work, and returned home to do more work around the house. As he grew older, his body might have aged, but his resilient and hard-working spirit stayed the same. “Don’t confuse them with your lean in,” he would tell me when I drafted remarks to constituents. “Tell them about GANAS!” In my home GANAS mean guts, grits, and game, and my father had a lot of GANAS.”

Vicki Gottlich, Director, Center for Policy and Evaluation, ACL, wrote on May 31, 2021, about the Extension of spousal impoverishment rules for HCBS. “As we close Older Americans Month today, we wanted to call your attention to an important provision of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 that helps older people to live independently and participate in the community. Under Medicaid financial eligibility requirements for nursing home care, states can disregard, or not include in their eligibility calculations, some income and assets of married individuals when one of the spouses needs long-term services and supports. The provisions, known as the spousal impoverishment rules, are designed to provide the spouse who does not enter the nursing home with a share of income and resources to prevent them from being impoverished. In other words, the person going into the nursing home does not have to use all of the couple’s resources for their nursing home care, leaving their spouse with very little. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) authorized the same spousal impoverishment rules to apply to people who are eligible for Medicaid home- and community-based services (HCBS). Thus, the ACA promoted community living by removing a financial incentive for a Medicaid beneficiary to receive services in a nursing home rather than their own home. The ACA provision, which originally was due to expire in 2018, has been extended several times. Most recently, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 extended the ACA’s mandate until September 30, 2023. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a Center Informational Bulletin (CIB) on May 4 to reminds states that they are required to apply the spousal impoverishment rules to married Medicaid applicants and beneficiaries of HCBS through that date.”

The New York Times reports that Social Security Is Rethinking How It Runs Customer Service After Covid and also reported The U.S. Senate confirmed Chiquita Brooks-LaSure as the first Black administrator to lead Medicare and Medicaid.

American cities and states have issued $72 billion of pension bonds. What that means is discussed in the article.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that a New House bill gives small businesses more incentives to start a 401(k) plan. The SECURE (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement) Act, the legislation, which passed in 2019 and became law on Jan. 1, 2020, changed the timing rules applicable to required minimum distributions. “Next up is the SECURE Act 2.0 (called the Securing a Strong Retirement Act), an upgrade to the existing bill that’s currently making its way through the House with bipartisan support. The new bill would require employers to automatically enroll employees in their plan (they can still opt out). It provides enhanced tax credits for employees that contribute to a 401(k) plan and offers extra assistance to student loan borrowers. It would also expand existing tax credits and ease administrative requirements for small businesses.”

Caring for an Aging Nation, by Lydia Zuraw and Carmen Heredia Rodriguez. The number of Americans 65 and older is expected to nearly double in the next 40 years. Finding a way to provide and pay for the long-term health services they need won’t be easy.

Benefits.gov reports: You Asked, Benefits.gov Answers: Fast Facts on SNAP. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the largest federal nutrition assistance program, serving an average of 12% of the 79 million families in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). SNAP is a supplementary program to help an individual or family buy nutritious food. Benefits.gov aims to make it easier for citizens to find information on available assistance programs.

VA: Mental health matters, now more than ever. Take advantage of telemental health treatment options in VA and the community.

VA: Bone health information for Veterans. Osteoporosis is not a normal part of aging.

 

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