Reading Help

Hispanic Older Adults Urge Administration for Community Living to Meet Their Needs

For Immediate Release

CONTACT: Bianca Perez

PHONE: 551-206-8846

EMAIL: media@nhcoa.org

 

The National Hispanic Council on Aging delivered comments from their constituents to the Administration for Community Living, asking the Administration to take into account the linguistic and cultural needs of Hispanic older adults when creating programs and services for the aging population. NHCOA also asked the ACL to partner with Latino expert organizations such as NHCOA, to develop ways to close the gap between the services available and the specific needs of this hard-to-reach population.

Marcos Bautista sending his comments to ACL

The comments from NHCOA’s members and allies were collected as a part of a collaborative effort led by the Diverse Elders Coalition, a coalition that advocates for policies and programs that improve aging in our communities as American Indian/Alaska Native elders, Asian American/Pacific Islander elders, Black elders, Hispanic elders, and LGBT elders. NHCOA is one of the five national organizations in the Diverse Elders Coalition.

 

“We want to thank the Administration for Community Living for giving us this opportunity to voice our opinions, and listening to our concerns and guidance,” said Dr. Yanira Cruz, NHCOA President and CEO. “I am delighted that we are uniting our collective voices to bring attention to the disparities that we see in our diverse communities, with regard to access of services.”

Fatima VelezIt was empowering to see our community uniting their voices for the benefit of our seniors, “I could see how many older Latinos could benefit if the Administration and DEC work together towards a common goal, which is improving the lives of many silent voices such as our Hispanic older adults” said a NHCOA Constituent.

Members of the Diverse Elders Coalition submitted more than 4,000 comments to the ACL; a meeting request to discuss these comments in greater depth will be submitted to the ACL this week.

 

###

NHCOA Applauds Announcement of First-Ever Comprehensive National Plan to Fight Alzheimer’s Disease

Washington, DC—The National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA)— the leading national organization working to improve the lives of Hispanic older adults, their families, and caregivers— commends the Obama Administration for unveiling the first-ever national plan to fight Alzheimer’s disease as mandated by the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA), which passed with significant bipartisan support and was signed into law last year.

“Alzheimer’s Disease is a terrible condition that does more than rob patients of their memories,” said Dr. Yanira Cruz, NHCOA President and CEO. “It also places great burden on patients’ families and loved ones. Given that Hispanic patients, families, and caregivers are disproportionately affected by Alzheimer’s, NHCOA commends the Obama Administration for taking solid, meaningful steps toward preventing and treating this disease.”

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that the number of U.S. Hispanic Alzheimer’s patients will increase six-fold by 2050, from 200,000 to 1.3 million. This is because Latino seniors are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. aging population.

“Latinos are about 1.5 more times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than non -Hispanic whites, which makes yesterday’s announcement extremely relevant to our Hispanic older adult and caregiver population,” said Dr. Henry Pacheco, NHCOA Director of Medicine and Public Health. “Therefore, we are ready to answer HHS Secretary Sebelius’ call to the public and private sector to be a part of this national response to alleviate the burden of Alzheimer’s in our communities through the development of effective prevention and treatment approaches for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias by 2025.”

NHCOA has recently been working to learn about Alzheimer’s disease within the Hispanic community. The organization is conducting research to understand the attitudes, level of stigma, level of knowledge, and the unique challenges the disease presents to Hispanic caregivers and health care providers. These findings will serve as the basis for culturally, linguistically, and age appropriate interventions designed to ensure effective management of Alzheimer’s within the Hispanic community.

Some of the key initiatives that are part of the national plan announced today include NIH funding for new research projects focused on key areas in which emerging technologies and new approaches in clinical testing now allow for a more comprehensive assessment of Alzheimer’s disease; high-quality training for doctors, nurses, and other health care providers on recognizing the signs and symptoms of the disease and how to manage it; easier access to information to support caregivers through the Department of Health and Human Services’ new website www.alzheimers.gov; and an awareness campaign to reach family members and patients in need of information on Alzheimer’s disease.

For more information on the national plan to address Alzheimer’s disease, visit www.alzheimers.gov.

NHSMP: MSN Redesign Helps Older Adults Detect Medicare Fraud More Easily

Note from NHCOA: The more informed you and your loved ones are regarding your health, the less likely you are to become a victim of health care fraud. Through the National Hispanic SMP (NHSMP), NHCOA reaches Hispanic older adults, families, and caregivers to protect, detect, and report Medicare fraud in a culturally, linguistically, and age appropriate manner.

May is Older Americans Month, and there are many reasons to celebrate! Over the last two years, the Affordable Care Act has made great strides in providing quality and affordable health care access to older adults, particularly Medicare beneficiaries. Last month, the government took a significant step toward helping beneficiaries better understand their Medicare benefits, as well as to curb Medicare fraud.

Every three months, beneficiaries receive a statement known as Medicare Summary Notices (MSN), which details services and products received. However, not many beneficiaries review this important document. Eduardo Gonzales, a Medicare beneficiary at NHCOA’s housing facility, Casa Iris in Washington, DC, says he has difficulties reviewing the MSN because of the small print and excessive jargon, which makes it hard to read and understand.

The complexity and length of the previous notice, which could exceed 10 pages depending on the number of services, not only made it hard for beneficiaries to understand the services they received, but also increased the chance of overlooking of any billing mistakes. To address this problem, the MSN has been redesigned to help beneficiaries keep better track of their Medicare service billing activity. The new user-friendly format includes changes like bigger fonts, and simpler and shorter explanations of medical services.

In a recent interview, Erin Pressley, director of creative services for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said, “We approached this redesign from the standpoint of making it a more consumer-friendly document for beneficiaries and also a better fraud-fighting tool. If they (beneficiaries) are paying attention to these documents, they are going to be the best defense we have.”

Another form that was overhauled is the Medicare appeal’s form. This form has now more clear information about what to do in case there is an issue with a paid service, where to get help and where to file. Also, the process of appealing has also been expedited so that our older adults can get a faster resolution and avoid having to take difficult choices, like stop accessing the care they need.

The new Medicare forms are available online at www.mymedicare.gov.

 

NHCOA is a proud partner of the Administration on Aging in the fight against Medicare fraud. The National Hispanic SMP works to detect, protect, and report Medicare fraud within the Hispanic community. For more information, visit

www.nhcoa.org/medicare

NHSMP: El Nuevo Diseño del Resumen de Medicare (MSN) Ayuda a Los Adultos Mayores a Detectar el Fraude al Medicare Más Fácilmente

Nota de NHCOA: Mientras más estén más informados acerca de su salud, menor será el chance de que usted o un ser querido se convierta en víctima del fraude al Medicare. Mediante el National Hispanic SMP (NHSMP por sus siglas en inglés), NHCOA lleva el importante mensaje de prevenir, detectar y reportar el fraude al Medicare a los adultos mayores hispanos, sus familiares y cuidadores.

Mayo es el mes del adulto mayor y hay varias razones para celebrarlo con gran entusiasmo. Durante estos dos últimos años se han obtenido grandes logros en cuanto al acceso a servicios de salud de calidad y a costos razonables para nuestros padres y abuelos con la Ley del Cuidado de Salud a Bajo Precio. Estos logros impactan positivamente a los beneficiarios de Medicare en especial.

El mes pasado, el gobierno tomó un paso adelante para ayudar a los beneficiarios del Medicare a entender mejor sus beneficios, al mismo tiempo que se busca frenar el fraude al Medicare.

Cada tres meses los beneficiarios reciben un documento llamado el Resumen de Medicare o (MSN, por sus siglas en inglés), el que detalla los productos y/o servicios recibidos. Sin embargo, no muchos beneficiarios revisan este importante documento. Eduardo González,  un beneficiario de Medicare quién vive en Casa Iris, un proyecto de vivienda a bajo costo de NHCOA en Washington, DC, dice que se le hace muy difícil leer y entender los MSN por que “vienen con letra muy pequeña y con información complicada”.

Los MSN eran tan largos y complejos que podían llegar a 10 páginas o más, dependiendo de la cantidad de visitas médicas. Esto no sólo impedía que los beneficiarios pudieran comprender los servicios recibidos, sino que también les dificultaba encontrar cualquier error que se hubiera cometido en la facturación. Con el nuevo diseño es más fácil que los beneficiarios puedan entender qué servicios y/o productos están siendo facturados al Medicare y cuánto cuestan. Entre los cambios están el uso de letras más grandes, y explicaciones más cortas y sencillas de los servicios médicos.

En una entrevista reciente, Erin Pressley, directora de Servicios Creativos para los Centros de Servicios de Medicare y Medicaid dijo, “Enfocamos la idea del rediseño desde el punto de vista del consumidor, para hacerlo más fácil de leer y entender para el lector y más útil como herramienta para luchar contra el fraude. Si logramos que ellos (los beneficiarios) presten más atención a estos documentos, esto será la mejor defensa que tendremos”.

Otro documento que se sometió a revisión fue el formulario para hacer reclamos de servicios. El nuevo formulario tiene información más clara acerca de qué hacer en caso de tener un problema con un servicio facturado, dónde obtener ayuda y dónde enviar el reclamo. El proceso de reclamo también tomará menos tiempo, de manera que los beneficiarios puedan obtener una respuesta más rápida y evitar que se tomen medidas drásticas, como dejar de usar el servicio de cuidado de salud que tanto necesitan.

Estos nuevos formularios de Medicare están disponibles en: https://es.mymedicare.gov/

NHCOA se complace en unirse a la Administración de Asuntos sobre la Vejez en la lucha contra el fraude al Medicare. El National Hispanic SMP ayuda a detectar, prevenir y reportar el fraude al Medicare en la comunidad hispana. Para más información, visite

www.nhcoa.org/medicare

 

Blog Image:

AAALI: New Working Group to Address HIV/AIDS, Violence Against Women, and Gender-Related Disparities

NHCOA is one of three national Hispanic/Latino partners of the CDC’s Act Against AIDS Leadership Initiative (AAALI), a multi-year national communication initiative to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS among diverse communities. To learn how you can get involved in the fight against HIV, please join www.actagainstaids.org. 

Last week, the White House made an exciting announcement, which will have an impact on women and girls, especially Latinas and African American women, who account for 75% of new HIV infections among women.

As part of the next steps of the first National HIV/AIDS Strategy— a coordinated national effort to fight HIV by reducing new infections, improving health outcomes, and decreasing HIV-related health disparities– President Obama issued a presidential memorandum to establish an inter-agency working group that ties together HIV/AIDS, violence against women and girls, and gender-related health disparities.

Given that gender-based violence and gender-related health disparities particularly affects diverse women, this new working group represents a positive step for underserved communities as it starts to apply evidence-based strategies, engage families and communities, support research and data collection, and mobilize public and private sector resources.

When it comes to Latinas, regardless of age, the faster we start to address these issues head-on with courage and candor, the sooner we will start to see the results — less stigma and myths, more prevention and dialogue.

HIV/AIDS is only as strong as we allow it to keep silent.

National Hispanic SMP: National Attention Creates New Opportunities to Engage Audiences in Medicare

Note from NHCOA: The more informed you and your loved ones are regarding your health, the less likely you are to become a victim of health care fraud. Through the National Hispanic SMP (NHSMP), NHCOA reaches Hispanic older adults, families, and caregivers to protect, detect, and report Medicare fraud in a culturally, linguistically and age appropriate manner. For more information, visit www.nhcoa.org/medicare. 

By María Eugenia Hernández-Lane

When we began working on Medicare fraud prevention several years ago, it was not by chance that we chose Texas’ Rio Grande Valley as the first site to target our efforts. Rich in culture and community, the Rio Grande Valley is a region that is predominantly Hispanic and faces high levels of poverty. The combination of poverty and cultural and linguistic barriers made the area a lucrative hotbed for scammers, particularly those committing health care fraud.

Since the Texas SMP was launched in 2005 with the support of the Administration on Aging, Medicare fraud prevention outreach has been conducted with more than 25,000 community members in the Rio Grande Valley area. During this time, we have observed and continue to see how community engagement and outreach are contributing to the larger goal of eliminating the waste, fraud, and abuse in Medicare, an important support system for all older Americans.

However, the power of any initiative or effort lies in being amplified by the megaphone of mass media. Recently, an ABC producer enlisted her 82-year-old grandmother to expose Medicare fraud in McAllen, TX in an undercover investigation for ABC Nightline:

A hidden camera recorded the undercover grandmother’s visit to a doctor in McAllen, Texas, where she told the doctor and nurses she exercised regularly and, other than some hypertension and arthritis, was in excellent health.
 

“I’ve really enjoyed good health all my life, God’s been good to me,” the doctor was told by Doris Ace, the grandmother of ABC News producer Megan Chuchmach.

 

Yet the official certification sent to Medicare for home health care services indicate she was homebound and suffered from two internal infections, incontinence and needs “assistance in all activities, unable to safely leave home, severe sob,” an abbreviation for shortness of breath.

 

This news investigation creates another tool to use in the fight against Medicare fraud, especially in areas with high concentrations of fraud, such as Texas. Sharing these kind of stories within the community help add depth and context to the realities of Medicare fraud and its consequences.

Now that the mass media is dedicating more attention to the state of Medicare, it is more important than ever to make newsoutlets aware that there are state resources supported by the Administration on Aging dedicated to raising Medicare fraud awareness and helping communities prevent, detect, and report it so that the system is no longer compromised by waste, fraud, and abuse.

On our part, the National Hispanic SMP is even more committed to protecting Hispanic older adults across the country from the potentially devastating effects of Medicare fraud. We are proud to join forces with the Administration on Aging to protect Medicare and ensure that it will be preserved for future generations.

 

Blog Image:

National Hispanic SMP: Medicare Fraud is Still Biggest Scam Among Elders

Note from NHCOA: The more informed you and your loved ones are regarding your health, the less likely you are to become a victim of health care fraud. Through the National Hispanic SMP (NHSMP), NHCOA reaches Hispanic older adults, families, and caregivers to protect, detect, and report Medicare fraud in a culturally, linguistically and age appropriate manner.
Recently the National Council on Aging (NCOA) released a list of top ten scams targeting older Americans. Not surprisingly, health care fraud—which includes Medicare fraud—was Number 1.
Aside from being very lucrative, scammers turn to health care fraud because the scam itself takes time to unravel before it’s exposed and because the target population is vulnerable. This is particularly true for Hispanic older adults, who due to specific cultural and linguistic factors, are among the most at-risk segments of the older adult population.
However, new Affordable Care Act measures are ramping up efforts and cracking down on these wrong doers who bilk seniors, the Medicare system, and the U.S. taxpayer. Last year alone, $2.9 billion were recovered in health care fraud, of which $295 million was related to Medicare fraud.
Part of this work is thanks to the efforts of the SMP, a network of state entities that work to educate and empower seniors to protect, detect, and report Medicare fraud within their communities. Similarly, through the National Hispanic SMP (NHSMP), NHCOA reaches Hispanic older adults, families, and caregivers in a culturally, linguistically and age appropriate manner.
To learn how you can be part of the NHSMP, visit www.nhcoa.org/medicare to download tailored toolkit material or call 1-866-488-7379.

National Hispanic SMP: Take Time To Prevent Heart Disease (via Medicare Blog)

Note from NHCOA: This was originally posted on The Medicare Blog, the U.S. Medicare program’s official blog, on Thursday, February 2, 2012. The more informed you and your loved ones are regarding your Medicare, the less likely you are to be a victim of Medicare fraud. Through the National Hispanic SMP (NHSMP), NHCOA reaches Hispanic older adults, families, and caregivers to protect, detect, and report Medicare fraud in a culturally, linguistically and age appropriate manner.

Statement from Secretary Sebelius on American Heart Month

Crosspost from HHS.gov

February is American Heart Month; a month to spread awareness about the importance of heart health. Each year, countless American families are impacted by heart disease and stroke. Although its risk factors can be prevented or controlled, it is still the leading cause of death for all Americans, and accounts for $1 out of every $6 dollars spent on health care. Fortunately, there are many simple steps we can take to prevent heart disease such as eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and not smoking.

The Department of Health and Human Services is working with both public and private partners to raise awareness of heart disease through vital research investments and public health programs. The Million Hearts Initiative takes aim at this disease, with a goal of preventing 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next 5 years. Other efforts, like the HeartTruth, which addresses women’s heart health, and the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, which confronts childhood obesity by helping children choose healthy foods and stay active, work to provide people with resources and ways to make heart healthy changes in their everyday lives .

And thanks to the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, new health plans must now cover recommended preventive services, including blood pressure screening for all adults and cholesterol screening for adults of certain ages or at higher risk, cost-free.

This month, as we take time to educate ourselves about the risks of heart disease, and recognize the efforts of medical researchers and healthcare professionals dedicated to prevention, early detection, and effective treatment, consider what steps you and your family can take to promote and adopt a heart healthy lifestyle.

For more information on American Heart Month, please visit: http://millionhearts.hhs.gov/index.html

For more information on women and heart disease, please visit: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/educational/hearttruth/ or http://womenshealth.gov/heartattack/

To learn more about the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign, please visit:http://www.letsmove.gov/

National Hispanic SMP: 2011 Sees Crackdown on Medicare Fraud, Increase in Medicare Benefits Through

Note from NHCOA: The more informed you and your loved ones are regarding your health, the less likely you are to become a victim of health care fraud. Through the National Hispanic SMP (NHSMP), NHCOA reaches Hispanic older adults, families, and caregivers to protect, detect, and report Medicare fraud in a culturally, linguistically and age appropriate manner.

In its second year of implementation, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has made tremendous strides in curbing the waste, fraud, and abuse that plagues the health care system— in particular Medicare, a prime target for scammers— as well as improve benefits for patients, namely older adults.

Crackdown on Medicare fraud

In September 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebeliusannounced a nationwide Medicare fraud crackdown, which charged 91 people in 8 cities for about $295 million in false billing.

This adds to the total $2.9 billion the Justice Department recovered in health care fraud in 2011, as recently reported by Vice President Joe Biden.

The increased fraud arrests are partly due to new ACA measures, including longer prison terms for health care fraud and increased number of strike force teams specialized in this type of fraud. ACA also includes funding for technology that allows investigators to monitor for suspicious claim patterns before they are paid by the government.

In fact, the government will no longer implement the so-called “pay and chase” model with Medicare, which tracked fraudulent payments after they were made.

Increased benefits for older adults

Medicare beneficiaries saw several benefits kick in during 2011, including free preventive services and a prescription drug discount, which will help close the infamous “donut hole,” a long-existing gap between Part D’s traditional and catastrophic coverage.

Under the ACA, beneficiaries with Original Medicare (Part B) may qualify for a yearly wellness exam (check up) and certain screenings without a co-pay. Free counseling is also available if their body mass index (BMI) is over 30 as a means to decrease the incidence of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, which disproportionately affect diverse elders.

By the end of November 2011, CMS announced that more than 24 million seniors had taken advantage of these preventive services, which could potentially create significant long-term health care savings by allowing health care practitioners to detect programs before they become chronic or warrant hospitalization.

Seniors benefited from a 50% discount on prescription drugs to help close the “donut hole,” the gap between traditional and catastrophic coverage in the Part D drug benefit program. The law required drug companies to offer the discount to participate in the program. Through the end of October, more than 2.65 million Medicare recipients saved a total of $1.5 billion on their prescriptions. That’s an average of $569 per patient.

HHS announced in August that, as benefits have gone up for seniors, Medicare prescription drug plan premiums would go down an average of 76 cents in 2012 from 2011.

National Hispanic SMP: Five Questions For Medicare Beneficiaries (via Medicare Blog)

Note from NHCOA: This was originally posted on The Medicare Blog, the U.S. Medicare program’s official blog, on Thursday, January 19, 2012. The more informed you and your loved ones are regarding your Medicare, the less likely you are to be a victim of Medicare fraud. Through the National Hispanic SMP (NHSMP), NHCOA reaches Hispanic older adults, families, and caregivers to protect, detect, and report Medicare fraud in a culturally, linguistically and age appropriate manner.

If you have Hispanic older adults at home or care for grandparents, use this checklist to they are getting the most of their Medicare coverage:

1. Do you have the right insurance card to use when you go to the doctor?
If you changed your health or drug plan during Medicare’s Open Enrollment period and haven’t gotten your new card or welcome packet, contact your plan for help.
If you changed from a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO) back to Original Medicare, use your red, white, and blue Medicare card when you go to the doctor. Get a new card if you lost or damaged yours, or need to update your information.

2. Did you budget for this year’s Medicare Part B deductible?
Don’t forget, if you have Medicare Part B and are in Original Medicare, now that it’s a new year you’ll have to meet your deductible before your Medicare coverage pays for services and supplies.

This year, the Medicare Part B deductible is $140 – lower than last year! Make sure to plan your health care budget to account for the increased cost of doctor visits for the time that it will take to cover your deductible.

3. Have you made appointments to get any preventive tests or screenings?
Medicare covers many preventive services to keep you healthy and screenings to check for health problems. Many of these services are covered each year. Ask your doctor when during the year you should schedule your wellness visit and other screenings. You can also use mymedicare.gov to track your visits and make a calendar of preventive services.
Medicare also covers 2 new preventive services:

Talk to your doctor about these covered preventive services to find out what’s right for your health needs.

4. Does your drug or health plan meet your needs?
If not, Medicare has a new way for you to get the coverage you want instead of having to wait for this year’s Open Enrollment. At any time during the year, you can switch to a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan that has a 5-star rating.
Plan ratings are based on member surveys, information from doctors and health care providers, and other sources. The plan ratings are scores that show the quality and performance of the plan, on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, with 5 being the highest rated plans.
You can make this change once per calendar year. Find 5-star health and drug plans in your area.

5. Is your doctor using Electronic Health Records and Electronic Prescribing to provide better care?
Using Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and electronic prescribing can help reduce paperwork, medical errors, and health care costs. These methods can also help doctors communicate better with each other about your care. For example, when you visit a specialist, your primary care doctor can send them your screening information and results. That way, you won’t have to have duplicate screenings and tests. Ask your doctor about what they’re doing to use EHRs and electronic prescribing to better coordinate your health care. Find out more about EHRs and electronic prescribing.