Work Requirements in Arkansas and Kentucky Blocked by Federal Court

On March 27, 2019, a federal judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued decisions that are vitally important for Medicaid beneficiaries. The two cases, Gresham v. Azar and Stewart v. Azar, halted efforts in Arkansas and Kentucky to condition receipt of Medicaid benefits on securing work or volunteer activities, as well as other cuts to coverage. The court’s rulings reinforced an earlier decision against Kentucky’s work requirement and extended a similar reasoning to the Arkansas …

Family Caregiver Supports in Medicare Advantage Plans: New Opportunities for Person- and Family-Centered Care

Medicare Advantage—the private plans that cover one-third of Medicare beneficiaries—has new flexibility to offer more supplemental benefits. Importantly, among those benefits are services and supports for family caregivers. That’s good news and, in fact, some plans are adopting such benefits. A recent AARP Public Policy Institute analysis of the 2019 Medicare Advantage Landscape Source Files found that 13 percent of the plans are offering family caregiver supports such as respite care, counseling, and skills training – and family caregiver supports …

Arkansas Work Requirement Leaves Thousands Without Health Insurance Coverage

Earlier this year, Arkansas became the first state to implement a  policy that—with some exemptions, including for people age 50 and older—requires adult Medicaid enrollees to work 80 hours every month at the state’s minimum wage. The policy has serious implementation problems, and is quickly ncreasing the number of uninsured in the state. In Compliance or Not—That is the Question Much of the issue stems around exemptions, compliance, and reporting requirements. In addition to working 80 hours every month, enrollees …

Hearing Aid Prices are Coming Down: Is Now the Time to Consider Getting One?

When my parents got into their 80s, sometimes I thought they were arguing because they were shouting. Then I realized they were just having trouble hearing each other. Unfortunately, this went on for some time because they did not have hearing aids. They said hearing aids were too expensive. Expense may soon become less of an issue for would-be purchasers. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first hearing aid for sale over-the-counter (OTC). Allowing OTC sales of …

‘Short-Term’ Health Plans No Longer Short-Term

On August 1, the Trump Administration released a final rule that will allow insurance companies to offer cheaper “short-term limited duration” health plans for longer periods of time. Short-term plans are cheap for a reason. The plans don’t comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), meaning they aren’t required to cover essential benefits and protect people with preexisting conditions, and they don’t have to adhere to community rating standards. Thus, while short-term plans have been available for years and may …

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, …