Government Nursing Home Ratings Getting Tougher

Starting immediately, the federal government is making it harder for nursing homes to get top grades on a public report card, in part by increasing scrutiny of their use of antipsychotic drugs and raising the bar on an array of quality measures. Those grades — in the form of one- to five-star ratings — are part of Nursing Home Compare, a government website to help consumers evaluate nursing homes. While the star ratings, which debuted in December 2008, are lauded …

What You Need to Know About 2014’s Top Scams

When fraudsters cook up a new scam, they typically use the same recipe: Start by establishing a connection with the target, be it through sweet talk or intimidation; mix in feigned credibility or authority; then turn on the heat to trigger emotions for an “Act Now!” response. For icing on the fake, add a dash of modern technology. Alone or collectively, these ingredients proved successful in the past year. Consider the ranking order of the Top Scams of 2014, which the Better Business Bureau …

11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun  1. Doctors and health officials are discouraging a revival of “measles parties,” popular in the 1950s and ’60s. (Learn more at ABC News) 2. The release of water vapor causes the distinctive sound of corn popping.  (Learn more at Los Angeles Times) 3. A 1967 performance on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour left Pete Townsend deaf in one ear. (Learn more at AARP) >> Register for Life@50+ Digital Experience. New AARP RealPad included! Learn More 4. …

Surprise! Reverse Mortgages Are Very Confusing

A three-year examination of reverse mortgage complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau shows that borrowers often didn’t understand the terms of those loans, including how quickly their loan balances would go up and their home equity would fall, the bureau said in a new report. Reverse mortgages allow homeowners age 62 and older to tap into the equity in their homes. They’re different from home equity credit lines or home equity loans because a reverse mortgage generally is paid back only when the homeowner …

The Jolie Effect: A Jump in Breast Cancer Gene Testing

Just how big of an effect did movie star Angelina Jolie have on women getting tested for the BRCA breast cancer gene? A hefty 40 percent jump, according to the first study to look at the impact of Jolie’s announcement that she had undergone testing. The study by the AARP Public Policy Institute analyzed more than 6.5 million health insurance claims for women 35 and older during 2013. Researchers found that testing rates increased from about 350 a week prior …

5 Things to Know for Feb. 15 Obamacare Sign-Up Deadline

Feb. 15 is the enrollment deadline for coverage under the Affordable Care Act, now in its second year. Here are five developments as the deadline approaches: 1. The number of enrollees for 2015 has exceeded Department of Health and Human Services predictions by more than a million. As of the first week in February, HHS estimates, about 7.5 million people were automatically reenrolled or newly enrolled in federal exchanges in 37 states, with a total of about 10 million covered …