ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 95

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 95 OCTOBER 28, 2015   WHITE HOUSE and congressional negotiators have tentatively agreed on a budget bill that will raise the sequester in 2016 and 2017, raise the budget ceiling and prevent a spike in Medicare premiums.  (Bloomberg News, Los Angeles Times, NBC News, all on October 26 – 27, 2015.) This is an opportunity for current Speaker of the House Boehner to be a statesman and he may be living up to that mantle in his last few days as leader.  A moderate who never liked his right wing extremist Boehner can help fashion a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats, and even liberal democrats, to keep the government functioning for 2 budget years. SOCIAL Security debate now involves candidates calling for expansion of the program by removing the ceiling for Social Security payroll deductions as well as candidates calling for reductions in benefit levels or increasing the age of eligibility for benefits.  Currently, social security taxes are paid only on the first $118,500 in earnings.  (New York Times, October 17, 2015.) Neither income over $118,500 per year or investment income is subject to the Social Security tax. AVERAGE time to process a Social Security Disability claim is now up to 450 days, with over 1 M cases on backlog.  (National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys [NAELA], eBulletin, October 21, 2015.) CENTER for Disease Control warns that 75% of antibiotics are wrongly prescribed to nursing home residents, increasing the occurrence of hard-to-treat “superbugs”.  (National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys [NAELA], eBulletin, October 21, 2015.) CALIFORNIA Family Code requires parents to support adult children whose incapacity prevents...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 94

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 94 OCTOBER 21, 2015 PLANNED Parenthood to continue harvesting fetal tissue for research but to discontinue accepting compensation for it.  (Los Angeles Times, October 14, 2015.) SOCIAL Security recipients will not get an increase for the 3rd time in 5 years because inflation has remained flat.  (Associated Press, October 15, 2015.) However, since the government doesn’t count food and energy, it underestimates inflation, as a quick trip to your local market will confirm.  Some advocates suggest a separate CPI should be calculated for those over 65. OPEN enrollment for Medicare started on Thursday, October 15, 2015.  If you have a Medicare stand alone drug plan, or are in a Medicare Advantage plan, you should review your policy and see if other options are better for you.  (New York Times, October 14, 2015.) Need free help?  For Los Angeles, call HICAP, at 213-383-4519, or 800-824-0780, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CLINTON calls for action to reduce the proposed increase in Medicare premiums, which may be 50% or more for up to 30% of Medicare beneficiaries.  (New York Times, October 17, 2015.) NEW mammogram guidelines from American Cancer Society advance the age most women should get mammograms from 40 to 45, then every year to 55, then every other year.  (NBC News, October 20, 2015.) The American Cancer Society advocates that each woman be evaluated separately by her physician to determine when mammograms are appropriate.  (KPCC interview, October 20, 2015.) WHY are prescription drugs so expensive?  According to the industry, the average drug costs $2.6B to develop (and is thereafter heavily marketed), and only 1 in 10 are actually...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 93

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 93 OCTOBER 14, 2015   NEW Energy Law signed by Brown will increase use of renewables and require better energy efficiency buildings, but will not require reduction in gasoline consumption.  (Los Angeles Times, October 9, 2015.) COURT rules Social services agency properly removed infant foster child from home, mistakenly believing exigent circumstances required the removal, and immediately placed the child with new foster parents. Court ultimately found that both couples would be excellent adoptive parents but that because new adoptive parents provided an “approved adoptive home study” and child was “flourishing” the infant should stay with them.     In re F.A. – filed October 9, 2015, Fourth District, Div. Three, Cite as 2015 S.O.S. 4815, Full text http://sos.metnews.com/sos.cgi?1015//G051494 (Los Angeles County Bar Association Daily eBriefs, October 9, 2015.) LAPPE case requires in rare instances that “confidential” information exchanged during divorce mediation is not confidential if that same information is created pursuant to a requirement of California law.  (Los Angeles Lawyer, October, 2015.) SUPREME Court starts new term to consider cases involving: Can public sector unions require non-members to pay reduced dues for representation; Can University of Texas use race as one criteria for admission; Does death sentence violate the Constitution; and Should state legislative districts be drawn on the number of voters or the population of the district? (The WEEK, October 16, 2015). COMMENTS by some Republicans (“she was unbeatable, right?… We put together the Benghazi Committee… her numbers are dropping..) are being interpreted to show the Republicans wanted these hearings to beat up on Clinton all along (The WEEK, October 16, 2015), and play well into the “Clinton as...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 92

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 92 OCTOBER 7, 2015   GOVERNOR Brown signed the Death with Dignity, Physician Assisted Suicide bill on Monday, October 5, 2015.  Modeled on the Oregon law of 1997 (only 752 have ended their lives under this act), the law will require visits with 2 physicians and other protections to prevent the mentally incompetent or people pressured by heirs or others from ending their lives without their informed consent.  Anyone obtaining medication under this law must administer the medication themselves.  (Los Angeles Times (online), October 5, 2015.) MAJOR fraud probe targets health clinics, alleging fraudulent bills to insurance companies totaling more than $500 M; including negligent surgeries performed by non-physicians; with “millions” being sent to Lebanon and Eastonia.  (Los Angeles Times, September 28, 2015.) NURSING homes overbill Medicare by giving patients more therapy than patients need, exactly reaching the limits for reimbursable therapy.  A report by the Inspector General of the Department of Health found “nursing homes regularly filed claims for the highest, most expensive level of therapy, regardless of what patients required”, costing Medicare $1.1 B in “extra billings”.  (New York Times, September 30, 2015.) Yet, nursing homes routinely try to forego further care on the grounds it won’t help the patient improve, while the law requires therapy if it will even stabilize the patient’s condition prevent further deterioration.  A spokesman for the industry stated that while Medicare may overpay for care, the same facilities are underpaid for care provided to Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) patients, claiming that “on any given day 2/3 of residents [patients] are on Medicaid”.  However, trying to place a long-term care Medi-Cal patient...