Friday Wrap-Up, October 21, 2016 | a message from the Secretary of Aging

friday wrap-up 03-11-16

Each week the Office of the Secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Aging releases a Friday newsletter with information relevant to activities, issues and events for older Pennsylvanians and persons with disabilities across the Commonwealth.Click here to read the October 21  newsletter.


Secretary Osborne Announces Approval of Pennsylvania’s State Plan on Aging

“Aging services in Pennsylvania are carried out through a robust network made up of Area Agencies on Aging, senior community centers, adult daily living centers, and the PA Link to Aging and Disability Resources. This network is vital to ensuring the effective provision of services so that older Pennsylvanians receive the support and services they need.”


“Pennsylvania’s Aging and Disability Resources Centers are known as PA Link. They are dedicated to improving access to long-term care supports, expanding the use of community-based solutions, promoting consumer-directed decision making through person-centered counseling, and improving the quality of services regardless of an individual’s age, physical or developmental disability, or ability to pay. PA Link functions are coordinated with other core Older Americans Act services and discretionary grants. Fifteen regional Links are made up of AAAs, Centers for Independent Living, county assistance offices, and other local partners.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Aging’s 2016-2020 State Plan on Aging was recently reviewed and approved by the United States Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living (ACL) and is effective October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2020. The plan carries out the complementary objectives of the Older Americans Act (as amended and reauthorized in 2016), ACL, the commonwealth, and the department.

“With a growing population of over 2.9 million adults over age 60, Pennsylvania must be prepared to effectively serve diverse communities with varying needs,” said Secretary Osborne. “This plan recognizes the department’s responsibility to serve as an effective and visible advocate for older Pennsylvanians and to coordinate all state activities related to the purposes of the Older Americans Act, while solidifying the commonwealth’s continued commitment to provide and improve services in a way that enables older Pennsylvanians to age in place with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

Development of the 2016-2020 State Plan on Aging began in the fall of 2015, when the department developed core principles to guide the operation of the organization over the course of the next four years. PDA then held seven community listening forums and three public hearings across the state to solicit input from a diverse spectrum of stakeholders.

“The department sought to create a document through an approach that is both responsive and responsible. A plan that considers the needs of the people we serve, and continues to incorporate their feedback,” said Secretary Osborne. “The combined diligence, experience, and hard-work of our staff and stakeholders has created a unified and goal oriented movement within our organization that will allow us to evaluate the progress of our efforts and recalibrate as the landscape of aging services in Pennsylvania evolves.”

There are four state plan goals:

  1. Promote existing services
  2. Improve access to services
  3. Enhance quality of services
  4. Empower the workforce

These goals are designed to encompass all initiatives that the department will undertake to improve aging services in Pennsylvania. As conditions change, the department may find it necessary to retool its approach to certain services. An objective may need to be reshaped, or some strategies may not work and will need to be replaced by new ones, but the goals are comprehensive and will provide a lasting way of thinking about the department’s initiatives.

“Within the state plan, a number of objectives and strategies address ways to maximize and leverage financial resources,” said Secretary Osborne. “These include developing a robust and diverse volunteer network across all program areas, promoting collaboration and communication throughout the aging network and among stakeholders, implementing evidence-based programs, securing sustainable grant funds, and eliminating redundancy in program administration through improved data, information collection and quality assurance protocols.”

PDA coordinates its comprehensive array of services through a network of 52 local Area Agencies on Aging (AAA). Like the Department of Aging, AAAs developed area plans to carry out the philosophy of the 2016-2020 State Plan on Aging.Over the next three weeks, Secretary Osborne will be holding five regional roundtable discussions with AAA directors and staff to discuss the implementation of area plans and the continuous improvement of aging services.

For more information or to view the 2016-2020 State Plan on Aging, visit .


“Administration for Community Living Releases New Brief on Importance of Oral Health”

Good oral health is critical for older adults and younger adults with disabilities. Poor oral health is largely preventable and linked to a person’s overall health and serious chronic diseases. Unfortunately, older adults and adults with disabilities are at high risk of having poor oral health due to inadequate access to services and certain disabilities that make oral hygiene tasks hard to complete and obtaining services even more difficult.

While Medicare does not cover most oral health services, states have a number of options for expanding oral health, as this policy brief describes.

Publicly-funded dental preventive and treatment services for adults are sparse because Medicare covers only a few medically-related dental procedures. Additionally, many state Medicaid programs have little dental coverage for adults. Some funding for oral health is available under the Public Health Service Act through the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Community Health Centers Program. The 2016 Older Americans Act Reauthorization added oral health to the list of its disease prevention and health promotion services.

For more details on this issue and potential options for expanding access to oral health, read the full policy brief from ACL.

“Staying Out Of The Closet In Old Age” – California Healthline

lgbt-oregon-2Partners Edwin Fisher, 86, and Patrick Mizelle, 64, moved to Rose Villa in Portland, Oregon, from from Georgia about three years ago. Fisher and Mizelle worried residents of senior living communities in Georgia wouldn’t accept their gay lifestyle. (Anna Gorman/CHL)

by Anna Gorman | California Healthline

“Patrick Mizelle and Edwin Fisher, who have been together for 37 years, were planning to grow old in their home state of Georgia.

“But visits to senior living communities left them worried that after decades of living openly, marching in pride parades and raising money for gay causes, they wouldn’t feel as free in their later years. Fisher said the places all seemed very ‘churchy,’ and the couple worried about evangelical people leaving Bibles on their doorstep or not accepting them.

“‘I thought, “Have I come this far only to have to go back in the closet and pretend we are brothers?” said Mizelle. “We have always been out and we didn’t want to be stuck in a place where we couldn’t be.”’

“So three years ago, they moved across the country to Rose Villa, a hillside senior living complex just outside of Portland that actively reaches out to gay, lesbian and transgender seniors.”

Read this article in its entirety at California Healthline.

Free Insurance Counseling Available During Medicare Open Enrollment

Harrisburg, PA The Pennsylvania Department of Aging is reminding Medicare beneficiaries that the annual Medicare open enrollment period began on Saturday, October 15, 2016, and ends Wednesday, December 7, 2016. Any new coverage selected takes effect January 1, 2017.

During open enrollment, new Medicare beneficiaries can sign up for Medicare Prescription Drug coverage and health plans to compliment Medicare for the first time, and current Medicare beneficiaries can review and make changes to their current coverage so that it better meets their needs. In order to help Medicare beneficiaries navigate through their options, Pennsylvania offers a free, objective health benefits counseling program called APPRISE, which is designed to counsel and empower Medicare-eligible individuals, their families, and caregivers to make informed healthcare benefit decisions.

“Our APPRISE counselors are trained to help Medicare beneficiaries understand their Medicare benefits, sort through their health and prescription options to find the best one for them, and successfully complete the enrollment process,” said Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne. “For individuals already on or soon to be on Medicare, open enrollment is an important time to review their health and prescription drug plans to ensure that the plans meet their needs, and the APPRISE Program is available to help them.”

With over 700 trained APPRISE volunteers in the commonwealth, the APPRISE Program provides objective, easy-to-understand information about Medicare Supplemental Insurance, Medicare Advantage Plan, and prescription drug plans in order for Medicare beneficiaries to compare plans and determine which plan best meets their needs. APPRISE volunteers also hold Medicare Open Enrollment events through Area Agencies on Aging across the commonwealth.  In 2015, approximately 295,000 of the commonwealth’s 2.5 million Medicare beneficiaries were advised by APPRISE volunteers.

“Since Medicare is complex and often difficult to understand, many beneficiaries choose to do nothing during open enrollment, but doing nothing actually amounts to permitting the automatic renewal of the coverage the beneficiary already has,” explained Secretary Osborne. “Governor Wolf and I are encouraging Pennsylvania’s Medicare beneficiaries to take action, review your care and benefit options during the Medicare open enrollment period, and reach out to your local APPRISE counselor if you need help,” said Secretary Osborne.

To learn more about the APPRISE Program or to find an Open Enrollment event in your area, call 1-800-783-7067 or visit

Medicare beneficiaries can also complete their own plan comparisons by using the Medicare plan finder tool at or calling 1-800-MEDICARE.

SOURCE: news release

“Drinks, dinners, junkets and jobs: how the insurance industry courts state commissioners” – The Center for Public Integrity

“Center probe reveals cozy relationships, revolving doors and shady financial ties”


Insurance companies and their employees were among the top political donors to state commissioner candidates during the past decade in at least six of the 11 states that elect the regulators. The Center of Public Integrity found a pattern of coziness between the insurance industry and the state commissioners who regulate them, ranging from political donations to job offers. Here, a campaign worker puts up a poster for a 2014 insurance commissioner candidate in Los Angeles. Chris Carlson/AP

by Michael J. Mishak | The Center for Public Integrity

“Half of the 109 insurance commissioners who have left their posts in the last decade have gone on to work for the insurance industry — many leaving before their terms expire. Just two moved into consumer advocacy”

“When the Arkansas insurance commissioner weighed the merits of a hospital’s billing complaint against United Healthcare, her interactions with one of the nation’s largest health insurers extended far beyond her department’s hearing room.

“During months of deliberations, Commissioner Julie Benafield Bowman met repeatedly with United Healthcare lawyers and lobbyists over lunch and drinks at venues such as the Country Club of Little Rock.

“‘I had a blast with you Monday night,’ Benafield emailed United Healthcare lawyer Bill Woodyard, himself a former state insurance commissioner. ‘Thank you so much for entertaining us.’”

“The Center for Public Integrity collected 41 of the most recent disclosure reports for insurance commissioners from around the country, which can detail potential conflicts of interest, such as business investments, spousal employment or corporate-paid travel.”

Teresa D. Miller was appointed Insurance Commissioner by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf on January 20, 2015.”

Click here to see Pennsylvania’s Teresa Miller’s statement of financial interests.

Read this entire article at The Center for Public Integrity.

“Exercise, Even In Small Doses, Offers Tremendous Benefits For Senior Citizens” – Kaiser Health News

by Judith Graham | Kaiser Health News


Mall walkers Ana Morales and Flora Yang walk together at Mazza Gallerie in Washington, D.C., signs in participants on Tuesday, March 15, 2016. (Heidi de Marco/KHN)

“Retaining the ability to get up and about easily — to walk across a parking lot, climb a set of stairs, rise from a chair and maintain balance — is an under-appreciated component of good health in later life.

“When mobility is compromised, older adults are more likely to lose their independence, become isolated, feel depressed, live in nursing homes and die earlier than people who don’t have difficulty moving around. Even when an elderly person is hospitalized, experts recommend exercise to maintain or regain mobility.

“Problems with mobility are distressingly common: About 17 percent of seniors age 65 or older can’t walk even one-quarter of a mile, and another 28 percent have difficulty doing so.

“But trouble getting around after a fall or a hip replacement isn’t a sign that your life is headed irreversibly downhill. If you start getting physical activity on a regular basis, you’ll be more likely to recover strength and flexibility and less likely to develop long-term disability, new research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine shows.”

Continue reading this article at Kaiser Health News.



“Free Webinar on Disaster Preparedness” – IlluminAge

“The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently unveiled new disaster preparedness requirements that affect more than 72,000 healthcare providers across the country – including nursing homes, hospitals, rehabilitation facilities and even home health agencies.


“After careful consideration of stakeholder comments on the proposed rule, this final rule requires Medicare and Medicaid participating providers and suppliers to meet the following four common and well known industry best practice standards.

1. Emergency plan: Based on a risk assessment, develop an emergency plan using an all-hazards approach focusing on capacities and capabilities that are critical to preparedness for a full spectrum of emergencies or disasters specific to the location of a provider or supplier.

2. Policies and procedures: Develop and implement policies and procedures based on the plan and risk assessment.

3. Communication plan: Develop and maintain a communication plan that complies with both Federal and State law. Patient care must be well-coordinated within the facility, across health care providers, and with State and local public health departments and emergency systems.

4. Training and testing program: Develop and maintain training and testing programs, including initial and annual trainings, and conduct drills and exercises or participate in an actual incident that tests the plan.

SOURCE: CMS news release

IlluminAge will be holding a free webinar to discuss the resources we’re providing to facilities to help meet these new requirements. This include a checklist and video that tells you specifically what you’ll need and what tools are available to ensure your compliance.”

Click here to connect to the CMS Survey & Certification – Emergency Preparedness webpage.


A New Path: 2016 PCPID Report to the President Now Available

presidents-report-id“The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID) 2016 Report is now available. Click on the graphic above to download the report.

“The report, Strengthening an Inclusive Pathway for People with Intellectual Disabilities and their Families, recognizes the “great strides” made since President John F. Kennedy established a blue-ribbon panel to address the needs of people with intellectual disabilities and their families and PCPID Chairman Jack Brandt notes that, “despite these advances, the trajectory for a person with an intellectual disability remains limited.”

“The report examines four key areas to determine how a new path can be forged for people with intellectual disabilities to be included in all aspects of society:

  • Early family engagement to support high expectations for students with disabilities;
  • Federal education policies and enforcement strategies to end segregation in schools;
  • Transition to adulthood as a critical timeframe for establishing paths to higher education and career development; and
  • Self-determination and supported decision-making starting in early childhood and continuing throughout the individual’s lifespan.”

Click here to continue reading this Administration for Community Living news release.

“Hormone therapy for prostate cancer associated with greater risk of dementia” – Statnews

by Shayla Love |

“The leading treatment for prostate cancer may, in the longer term, increase a person’s risk for dementia, a new study finds.

ALZHEIMERS DISEASE BRAINA section of a human brain with Alzheimer’s disease is on display at the Museum of Neuroanatomy at the University at Buffalo, in Buffalo, N.Y., Oct. 7, 2003. (AP Photo/David Duprey)

“The retrospective study, published in JAMA Oncology Thursday, analyzed almost a decade’s worth of medical records and found that men with prostate cancer who are treated with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) are twice as likely to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s, within five years, compared to prostate cancer patients who do not receive testosterone-lowering therapies.”

Read this article in its entirety, click here.