Lynda Flowers is an AARP Public Policy Institute expert on Medicaid, health disparities and prevention/public health.

Examples of Practices That Support Integrating Care for Dual Eligibles: Some Challenges Remain

The federal government recently released its first preliminary report evaluating its Financial Alignment Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to increase access to high-quality, well-coordinated health care — including long-term services and supports (LTSS) — for low-income adults who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, also known as dual eligibles or duals. Most of the participants receive their care through managed care organizations called Medicare-Medicaid plans (MMPs). The report describes some practices that states seeking to integrate services for …

Shingles Vaccine May Be out of Reach for Some Medicare Beneficiaries

Introduction to Shingles Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful skin rash. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chicken pox. Once people recover from chicken pox, the virus remains in their body in an inactive state. In some people, it stays dormant; in others, the virus reactivates and causes shingles. The condition is most common in older adults and people with weakened immune systems. The most common complication of shingles is …

Covering Low-Income Midlife Adults Through Medicaid: Making Progress, but More States Need to Take the Plunge

The Affordable Care Act — as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court — gives states the option to expand Medicaid. Access to Medicaid significantly reduces the number of uninsured in this country. Since the expansion began, millions of individuals are receiving coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Yet, 19 states have not expanded Medicaid coverage, potentially leaving almost 2 million low-income midlife adults (ages 45-64) without access to insurance coverage. Being uninsured is especially hard on adults …

Uniform Definitions and Data Elements for Collecting Information About Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is an important public health problem that has negative consequences on the health and well-being of older adults and contributes to avoidable health spending. Studies have found that elder abuse leads to increased use of emergency room and in-patient hospital care, and estimates are that annual costs associated with such abuse are over $5.3 billion. The U.S. Administration on Aging defines elder abuse as any knowing, intentional or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that …

It’s a Shame: Low-Income Medicare Beneficiaries Continue to Be Plagued With Balance Billing

Federal law prohibits traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage providers and suppliers from billing people who are qualified Medicare beneficiaries (QMBs) for Medicare deductibles, coinsurance and copayments — a practice known as balance billing. Qualified Medicare beneficiaries (QMBs) are people with Medicare who have incomes at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level — or a higher level set by their state — and very few resources. In spite of the prohibition, many QMBs are receiving and, out of …

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Financial Access to Dental Care among Medicare Beneficiaries: Something to Chew On

Good oral health is a vital part of general health and overall well-being. However, it requires the regular use of dental services. Yet many older adults are unable to afford the care they need to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Moreover, there are significant disparities in financial access to dental services among older adults. In 2014, twice as many older adults of color were unable to afford dental care in the past 12 months than their white counterparts (Chart). Multiple …