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

Social Isolation: Detrimental to Older Adults’ Health and Costly to Medicare

July is Social Isolation Month at AARP. This month, we are calling attention to the millions of older adults across the nation who lack meaningful social contacts with family members, friends or neighbors.  Why the focus on isolation?  Because social isolation is associated with bad health consequences: For example, socially isolated older adults are more likely to have heart disease, infections, depression, and premature cognitive decline. What’s more, it significantly increases the risk of death  among older adults.  In fact, …

New Diabetes Prevention Program Covered under Medicare Part B

Nearly half (48 percent) of U.S. adults ages 65 and older have pre-diabetes, meaning their blood sugar levels are high enough to put them at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is associated with a host of health complications, including stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and even amputations of the legs and feet. What’s more, diabetes is costly. In 2013, diabetes cost the U.S. health system over $100 billion—more than the cost for many other chronic conditions like heart disease, …

Social Isolation: The Silent Killer that Costs Medicare Billions in Extra Spending

Last week the AARP Public Policy Institute (PPI) sponsored a Solutions Forum on Capitol Hill (view recording HERE)  that put the spotlight on groundbreaking research showing how much social isolation—lack of meaningful contacts with others—costs the Medicare program. In two separate panels, participants in the packed room heard from experts who discussed the global problem of social isolation—or lack of meaningful contacts with others—among older adults. Susan Reinhard, Senior Vice President at AARP kicked off the event with a compelling …

Older Adults Who Don’t Have Meaningful Relationships are Sicker—and Cost Medicare More

Elizabeth “Izzy” Barnett, 80, is a full-time caregiver for her husband, Bob, who has dementia. They have no children or family to help and Izzy has lost contact with friends because she is busy taking care of Bob. Izzy’s is not alone in this situation. Millions of older adults are socially isolated—in other words, they lack meaningful relationships with family and friends. Life circumstances—losing a spouse, friends, and loved ones, or retirement—put older adults at increased risk for isolation.   …

The Senate Health Reform Bill Would Slash Medicaid Severely

The Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) now under consideration in the Senate would drastically alter the Medicaid program. The proposed Senate bill would change the way the federal government funds Medicaid by limiting federal funding and shifting cost over time to states and Medicaid enrollees. BCRA would subject older adults, adults with disabilities, and children to mandatory per enrollee caps beginning in 2020. State Medicaid programs would have the option to choose between block grants and per enrollee caps for …

The American Health Care Act Would Make Unsustainable Cuts to Medicaid

Recent policy conversations related to the American Health Care Act (AHCA) have focused on  proposals that would eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s critical protection for people with preexisting conditions. This  controversial proposal has drawn a lot of attention for good reason. Eliminating this important protection, which keeps insurance companies in the individual (non-group) market from considering health status when making coverage decisions, could hurt millions — especially older adults who tend to develop more health conditions as they age. But …