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The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care

February 7, 2012

Aging Groups Argue that Most Provisions Affecting Seniors Should Not Be Tied to Supreme Court's Ruling on Individual Mandate

Six national aging groups filed a brief with the Supreme Court saying that there are extensive provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) that are vitally important to older people. The brief stated that Congress did not intend for any of the provisions to be contingent on whether or not the minimum coverage provision (also called individual mandate) was constitutional.

"The health and quality of life of many older Americans are already improving because of the health reform law," says National Senior Citizens Law Center Executive Director Paul Nathanson. "We don't believe Congress intended to let the elderly poor languish in nursing homes or be subject to abuse if the individual mandate was found unworkable."

The brief states that a “careful review” of policies Congress sought to enact shows that the provisions affecting people aged 65 and over “can be effectuated without any reliance on the minimum coverage provision."

For more information, read the full brief.

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New Federal Agency Focusing on Elder Financial Abuse

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)’s Office of Financial Protection for Older Americans provides seniors with information and tools to navigate safely through financial challenges. This office helps protect seniors from scam artists and bad advice so they can manage financial challenges as they age.

Director of this office, Former Attorney General of Minnesota Hubert Humphrey, and his staff have reached out to many in the elder abuse and aging communities to learn about the many forms of elder financial abuse and possible ways the new Bureau might effectively address this growing and very serious problem.

For more information, visit the Office of Financial protection for Older Americans’ website.

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FTC Sues to Block Merger between Omnicare and PharMerica

The Federal Trade Commission issued a complaint to block the proposed merger of the two largest long-term care pharmacies, Omnicare, Inc. and PharMerica Corporation. Both pharmacies have settled substantial criminal claims with the Justice Department and state government for fraudulent actions with regard to nursing home residents.

In the FTC’s complaint, it charges that a deal combining Omnicare and PharMerica would significantly increase Omnicare’s already substantial bargaining leverage by dramatically increasing the number of skilled nursing facilities that receive long-term care pharmacy services from the company. “If Omnicare is allowed to purchase its biggest and only national competitor, it will diminish competition and raise health care costs – leaving taxpayers and patients to foot the bill,” said Richard Feinstein, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition.

The Consumer Voice opposed the merger on the grounds that both companies had abused their market share to the detriment of Medicare beneficiaries who have no alternative about where to purchase drugs.

For more information, read the FTC’s press release.

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House Repeals CLASS

Last week, the House of Representatives repealed the CLASS Act (H.R. 1173), but the future of the bill is unclear.

The CLASS Act was designed to fill an important gap in long-term health care for our nation’s senior population and people with disabilities. An estimated 15 million people are expected to need long-term services and supports by 2010, so filling this long-term care gap (which neither Medicare nor Medicaid can fill) is no small task.

Even if the CLASS Act is officially repealed, the need for a long-term care benefit will persist. “We need to keep CLASS alive because we believe it can be made to work. It is the only alternative so far to Medicaid as the primary means of financing long-term services and supports,” said LeadingAge President and CEO Larry Minnix.

Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) also opposed CLASS’ repeal in a recent opinion column in Politico saying “We should commit to finding solutions that, at a minimum, give people access to long-term services and supports, regardless of pre-existing disability, in their homes or communities – and without impoverishing themselves.”

For more information, read Sen. Rockefeller’s column and read this article in McKnight’s.

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New Resource Tool for Alzheimer's and Dementia Staff

For the fourth year, the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners (NCCDP) is offering The National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners Alzheimer’s and Dementia Staff Education Week February 14th to the 21st Toolkit. The toolkit includes PowerPoint In-services Training on a number of topics for health care staff, and all include pre-test, post-test, handouts, answers, in-service evaluation, and in-service certificates. The Toolkit is free and available at www.nccdp.org.

 To learn more about NCCDP and Alzheimer’s and Dementia Staff Education Week, go to www.nccdp.org.

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Older Americans Month 2012 Materials Now Available

The Older Americans Month 2012 theme is "Never too old to Play." The theme encourages older Americans to stay engaged, active and involved in their own lives and in their communities. The Administration on Aging is pleased to provide materials to assist our partners at the national, state, and local levels plan for activities in commemoration of Older Americans Month. Information on upcoming Administration on Aging activities to celebrate Older Americans Month coming soon!

 To view and download the Older Americans Month 2012 logo and poster in both English and Spanish as well as other materials, please visit AoA’s website.

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NORS I, II & III Webinar Trainings Now Online

The recordings and materials for NORS Modules I, II, & III, hosted by the National LTC Ombudsman Resource Center (NORC), are available on the NORC website. The webinar for Module IV will be held March 7. Registration information will be coming soon.

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About The Gazette

The Gazette is a weekly e-newsletter, published by the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care and the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center. If you do not wish to continue receiving this publication, please unsubscribe. Your contributions and comments are welcome and should be sent to swells@theconsumervoice.org. Copyright © 2011.

The Consumer Voice is the leading national voice representing consumers in issues related to long-term care, helping to ensure that consumers are empowered to advocate for themselves. We are a primary source of information and tools for consumers, families, caregivers, advocates and ombudsmen to help ensure quality care for the individual. The Consumer Voice's mission is to represent consumers at the national level for quality long-term care, services and supports.

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