ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 78

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 78 JULY 1, 2015 SUPREME COURT MAKES 2 BIG DECISIONS IN 1 WEEK: –SUPREME Court upholds provision in Obamacare that allows all exchanges to pay a supplement to Obamacare members, whether the exchange is run by a state or the federal government.  (June 25, 2015.) –SUPREME Court upholds by a 5 to 4 vote (as predicted in this blog on May 5, 2015), that gay people have a constitutional right to marriage (June 26, 2015), with Judge Kennedy (as expected), being the deciding vote. Supporters of gay rights still face other challenges.  Concerns of “married today, fired tomorrow” may become a reality in some cases, and other areas, such as adoption and spousal rights, may continue to require vigilance. As depicted in the film “The Imitation Game” and the book “The Innovators, Alan Turing was convicted as a criminal for being gay after having played a major role in developing the Enigma machine, which cracked crucial German codes during WWII, after which he committed suicide.  And only in 1969 in the Stonewall Rebellion did gays move to physically protect themselves from arrest.  With each step forward appears another step to climb. Today that next step presented itself when the Attorney General of the State of Texas advised that state’s County Clerks they can refuse to perform gay marriages if they had religious objections.  (Reuters, June 29, 2015.) –SUPREME Court upholds states’ rights to use controversial chemicals in executions. –SUPREME Court reverses EPA’s right to regulate pollution without economic analysis; and –SUPREME Court upholds right of states to establish commissions to redistrict Congressional districts every 10 years. THE final...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 76

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 76 JUNE 17, 2015 SOCIAL Security planning can be complex, and one of many internet resources is “financialengines.com”, which asks a “few sample questions before spitting out various sample strategies you and your spouse can pursue”.  (The WEEK, June 12, 2015.)  Many investment companies such as Fidelity, Vanguard and TRowe Price also have such programs. LOS Angeles has raised the minimum wage to $15 over the next 5 years.  This will also pressure other states and large cities to increase their own minimum wages. National Federation of Independent Business stated small businesses will pay higher wages when they can afford to but cannot now. Meanwhile, the Labor Department is expected to release new rules on overtime pay, extending overtime benefits to approximately 6 million Americans.  (Nightly Business Report, June 10, 2015.) LOS Angeles County may be considering a similar measure. 4 million jobs currently go unfilled because workers to not have the right skills.  Filling these jobs would also create new jobs to support those earning the income from these 4 million jobs.  (Nightly Business Report, June 10, 2015, see “American Mo Jo, Lost and Found”.) OBAMACARE enrollment has reached 10.2 million.  (The WEEK, June 12, 2015.) LOS Angeles Times columnist George Skelton writes as of 2013 “the top 1%” receive “21.8% of California’s adjusted gross income” but pay “45.4% of the state’s personal income tax”.  (Los Angeles Times, June 11, 2015.)  Skelton does not address how much the top 1% pays in social security, medicare or sales taxes vs. the lower 99%, which could serve to somewhat equalize the burden, mathematically speaking.  Further, if the “rich” are...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 75

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 75 JUNE 10, 2015 “COMPASSION & Choices praised the California Senate today for passing a medical aid-in-dying bill for the first time in history, two weeks after the California Medical Association dropped its 28-year opposition to such legislation. The vote to approve the bill, the End of Life Option Act (SB 128), was 23 to 14. The bill now moves to the Assembly, where the deadline to pass the bill is Sept. 11”… [The proposed law] would allow “mentally competent, terminally ill adults the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication” they could take to end their suffering.  (Compassion and Choices Newsletter, June 4, 2015.) ASSEMBLYMAN Mat Dababneh reports the Assembly has passed a bill to raise the “personal expense” allotment for personal and incidental needs of nursing home patients receiving Medi-Cal to $50 from its current $20 monthly.  (Newsletter of Assemblyman Matt Dababneh). ASSEMBLY bill AB339 will, if passed, lower the costs of certain “specialty” drugs to people already insured on their own or through a small business employer.  (Health Access, April, 2015.) SMOKING and excess weight may irritate or partially cause Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is not a “genetic” disease which tends to pass through each generation, or a disease only of old.  (Everyday Health, August 27, 2014.) 1/3 of all U.S. adults are at risk of high blood pressure.  Contributing factors are smoking, eating salty foods, drinking more than a moderate amount of alcohol, being overweight and a family history of “hbp”.  (The Medicare Blog, May 1, 2015.) STUDY by ExpressScripts shows number of Americans whose prescriptions costs more than $50,000 a year has risen...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 74

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 74 JUNE 3, 2015 STATE Senator Fran Pavley reports Governor Brown has increased funding for the Department of Developmental Services for the disabled by $200 million, far “short of restoring past budget cuts” of 10% in 2008, which have lead to large turnover in staff.  (Newsletter, Senator Fran Pavley, May 28, 2015.) MEDICARE blog reports if you have a “grievance” (Medicare complaint), you can call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227). ANXIETY has now replaced depression as the most common mental health complaint among students, although both are on the rise, with nearly 1 out of 6 students being diagnosed with anxiety within the last 12 months.  (New York Times, May 27, 2015, citing study of 100,000 students by Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State.) SOCIAL Security Disability applicants may be eligible for “fast track” under the “Compassionate Allowances” initiative, if they have one of 50 conditions, such as traumatic brain injury, cancer or genetic diseases.  (Wall Street Journal, February, 2011.) “FILE and suspend” may enable you to collect early Social Security benefits against your spouse’s record and even take foregone benefits in a lump sum later.  But doing so may lead to a reduction or termination of the 8% annual increase in your benefits.  (Los Angeles Times, May 24, 2015.)  Check with a knowledgeable professional before you “file and suspend” your Social Security benefits. DRUG dealer in the “dark pool” of the internet, operating “Silk Road” site, which sold drugs, and other illegal materials, has received a life sentence in federal prison, judge ruled on May 29, 2015.  (Los Angeles Times, May 30, 2015.) 74% of...