Category Archives: Money

Wolf Administration Extends Pennsylvania Home Heating Assistance Program Deadline

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf announced today that Pennsylvanians struggling to pay home heating bills will now have until April 7 to apply for financial help through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

The federally funded program was slated to end March 31, 2017, but the Wolf Administration decided that given the unpredictable weather this winter, Pennsylvania would extend the program, giving people extra time to apply for funding.

“Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable were able to heat their homes this winter because of LIHEAP,” said Governor Wolf. “By keeping the program open longer, we hope to provide additional assistance to those who are struggling to keep their family warm.”

LIHEAP offers assistance in the form of a cash grant sent directly to the utility company or a crisis grant for households in immediate danger of being without heat. Some households are eligible for both types of assistance. Cash grants are based on household income, family size, type of heating fuel and region. In addition to proof of income and household size, applicants must provide a recent bill or a statement from their fuel dealer verifying their customer status and the type of fuel used.

“Everyone deserves a safe, warm home. I encourage Pennsylvanians to apply today to ensure they have the necessary resources to stay warm as the climate continues to be unpredictable,” said Department of Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas.

Individuals can apply for a LIHEAP grant online at www.compass.state.pa.us or in person at their local county assistance office. They may also call the statewide toll-free hotline at 1-866-857-7095 with questions about the program.

For more information about LIHEAP, visit www.dhs.pa.gov.

SOURCE: news release

Supplemental Social Security (SSI) | a federal safety net program for most-vulnerable populations

ssi factsheet

Click here or on the graphic above to download the three-page report.

“Pressed Into Caregiving Sooner Than Expected” – The New York Times

caregivingGina Rinehart, left, poses for a portrait with her father at his home near Hoodsport, Wash., on March 3, 2017. Bub Hall has lung cancer and Ms. Rinehart has been helping take care of him for four years. Credit David Ryder for The New York Times

“It was August, and Gina Rinehart was preparing for another school year as a special-education teacher in Hemet, Calif., when she got the call: Her father, Floyd Hall, was facing surgery to remove a tumor in his lung.

“She flew to rural Lake Cushman, Wash., to be with her parents, expecting to spend two weeks helping her dad recover. Her father, known as Bub and an active retiree at 68, spent his days woodworking, volunteering at the local food bank and helping his own 95-year-old mother.

“But the report from the surgical team was grim: Stage 4 lung cancer, a terminal diagnosis. ‘Have you ever heard news and felt like you wanted to throw up?’ said Ms. Rinehart, who recalls breaking into a cold sweat. ‘I was seriously shocked.'”

Read this New York Times article in its entirety, click here.

This AARP site, Caregiving in the United States 2015, has more information about caregiving and identifies the typical caregiver this way.

WHO
The typical caregiver is a 49-year-old female, currently caring for a 69-year-old female  relative who needs care because of a long-term physical condition.

WHAT

She has been providing care for 4 years on average, spending 24.4 hours a week (68 percent help 20 hours or less; 32 percent help 21 hours or more). These caregivers typically help with 1.7 activities of daily living (ADLs; such as help with bathing and dressing)2 and 4.2 instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs; such as running errands or managing finances), and usually conduct medical or nursing tasks (such as wound care, giving injections, or managing medications) for their loved one. She is the primary, unpaid care provider and provides care without the assistance of paid help.

WORK AND CAREER
She is typically employed and working full time (an average of 34.7 hours per week). This caregiver is likely married or living with a partner, and in very good or good health. She is a high school graduate or has taken some college courses, but does not have a degree. Her average household income is $54,700.

ABOUT THE CARE RECIPIENT
This caregiver usually cares for only one adult. That adult, the care recipient, likely lives either with the caregiver or very close by (within 20 minutes of the caregiver’s home). The care recipient typically has been hospitalized at least once in the past year.

“A Playbook For Managing Problems In The Last Chapter Of Your Life” – California Healthline

Close up of senior woman's hands holding walking stickCommon reasons seniors move out of their homes include developing dementia, having a spouse fall ill or die, and not being able to keep up their homes. (iStock)

CHICAGO — “At least once a day, Dr. Lee Ann Lindquist gets an urgent phone call.

“‘Mom fell and is in the hospital,’ a concerned middle-aged son might report.

“‘Dad got lost with the car, and we need to stop him from driving,’ a distraught middle-aged daughter may explain.

“‘We don’t know what to do.’

“Lindquist, chief of geriatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, wondered if people could become better prepared for such emergencies, and so she designed a research project to find out.

“The result is a unique website, www.planyourlifespan.org, which helps older adults plan for predictable problems during what Lindquist calls the ‘last quarter of life’ — roughly, from age 75 on.”

Click here to continue reading this California Healthline article in its entirety.

visit website

Click here (or on the graphic above) to visit the PLANYOURLIFESPAN.ORG WEBSITE.

“Sen. Sanders has a plan to lower drug prices” – Social Security Works.org

JAN._2017_CHART_US-CANADA_Pricing_Differences

An email from SocialSecurityWorks.org, states:

“Prescription drug companies are getting away with murder. The company who makes Xtandi, a prostate cancer medication developed with US tax dollars, costs $129,000 per year to Americans, yet only $30,000 to Canadians. This isn’t an isolated case. Americans pay the highest price in the world for prescription drugs―over 40% more than Canada and often three times that of many European countries.

“Sen. Bernie Sanders has introduced a bill that would stop this madness by allowing individuals and pharmacies to import safe, FDA-approved drugs directly from Canada.”

Social Security Works exhorts you to “Tell Congress: Pass Bernie’s Bill to Lower Drug Prices.”

“How do you break through to people who want to be isolated?”| “Two sisters, one house, and a mystery” – The Boston Globe

A call to elder protective services cases began to unravel the mystery. “Such cases are typically opened when someone complains — and there is a basis to believe — an older person may be at risk for harm due to abuse or neglect.”

mass-house“The home on Clinton Road in Brookline where two elderly sisters, Lynda and Sheryl Waldman, lived. The house, in one of the town’s most prosperous neighborhoods, is now condemned.” – Suzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

by Patricia Wen | The Boston Globe

“BROOKLINE — Sheryl Hope Waldman grew up in a big and bustling house here in the 1950s, an attractive, cheerful girl with many friends. After attending Brookline High School and the University of Wisconsin, she returned to her childhood home to live with her older sister Lynda.

“Then, over the years, Sheryl Waldman faded from view until she vanished. And no one seemed to notice.”

Click here to read this Boston Globe article in its entirety.

 

JUST RELEASED: “Polling Data Note: Beyond the ACA, the Affordability of Insurance Has Been Deteriorating Since 2015” – Kaiser Family Foundation

“The debate about the future of the Affordable Care Act and its individual insurance marketplaces may be taking the focus off the affordability challenges facing the broader population, most of whom get their health coverage through employers, Medicare, or Medicaid.

New survey findings from the Kaiser Family Foundation show that health care has become somewhat less affordable even among those with health insurance. Since 2015, larger shares of people with health insurance say they have a difficult time affording their health care costs: from 27 percent to 37 percent for premiums, 34 percent to 43 percent for deductibles, and from 24 percent to 31 percent for copays and prescription drugs.

affording-health-care

Other findings include:

  • About three in 10 adults (29%) report someone in their household has had problems paying medical bills in the past year, often with real consequences. For example, among those reporting problems paying medical bills, seven in 10 (73%) report cutting back spending on food, clothing, or basic household items, while about six in 10 report using up all or most of their savings (61%) or taking an extra job or working more hours (58%) to pay their bills.
  • Concerns about cost are also affecting whether and when some people seek health care. For example, a quarter (27%) of the public says that they or a family member living in their household put off or delayed getting health care they needed in the past year due to costs, and nearly as many say they skipped a recommended medical test or treatment (23%) or did not fill a prescription (21%).
  • Nearly half of Americans (45%) say they would have difficulty paying an unexpected $500 medical bill. This includes those who say they wouldn’t be able to pay it at all (19%), those who would put it on a credit card and pay it off over time (20%) and those who would have to borrow money from a bank, payday lender, or family or friends (7%). Among the uninsured and those with lower incomes, more than three in ten say they would not be able to pay a $500 bill at all.
  • Significant shares of the public say they are “very worried” about not being able to afford health care services they think they need (25%), losing their health insurance (22%), or not being able to afford prescription drugs (21%). Overall, half say they are at least somewhat worried that they won’t be able to afford needed health care services.

READ THE DATA NOTES

The “Social Security Reform Act of 2016” | according to SocialSecurityWorks.org, this is “an impressive wish list of devastating Social Security cuts and upper-income tax breaks.”

According to an email from Social Security Works, “Just before Congress left for the holidays, Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX) introduced the ‘Social Security Reform Act’ – an impressive wish list of devastating Social Security cuts and upper-income tax breaks.

“Our friends at the Economic Policy Institute Policy Center have crunched the numbers on the Johnson plan, and they are even scarier than we thought.

“More than 2/3s of beneficiaries would see, on average, a 27% cut in benefits. This includes:

  • Raising the retirement age to 69 (equivalent to a 13.5 percent across-the-board cut)
  • Changing the benefit formula (9 percent average cut)
  • Slashing the cost-of-living adjustment (13 percent average cut)
  • Some long-lived beneficiaries could see cuts of up to 74 percent!
  • Eliminates the taxation of benefits on high earners–giving a tax cut to those who need it least while reducing revenue back into the Social Security trust fund”

“Coming Soon: Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids” – TimeGoesBy.net

“There was a lot of movement in Washington, D.C. last week about making certain hearing aids more available and more affordable. First, some facts. According to statistics published recently by the White House:

  • 30 million Americans suffer from hearing loss
  • The average cost of a hearing aid is $2,300 – twice that for two ears
  • Only 20 percent of Americans who would benefit from hearing aids have them, mostly due to the price

“The reason for the White House interest in hearing aids was this announcement last week from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which on 7 December

”…issued a guidance document explaining that it does not intend to enforce the requirement that individuals 18 and up receive a medical evaluation or sign a waiver prior to purchasing most hearing aids [and]

“…also announcing its commitment to consider creating a category of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids that could deliver new, innovative and lower-cost products to millions of consumers.”

“In addition, last week Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced … ” To continue reading this As Time Goes By | What It’s really like to get old” Website post, click here.

“What Are the Implications of Repealing the Affordable Care Act for Medicare Spending and Beneficiaries?” – Kaiser Family Foundation

Issue Brief

“The 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) included many provisions affecting the Medicare program and the 57 million seniors and people with disabilities who rely on Medicare for their health insurance coverage. Such provisions include reductions in the growth in Medicare payments to hospitals and other health care providers and to Medicare Advantage plans, benefit improvements, payment and delivery system reforms, higher premiums for higher-income beneficiaries, and new revenues.

“President-elect Donald Trump, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary-nominee and current House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, and many other Republicans in Congress have proposed to repeal and replace the ACA, but lawmakers have taken different approaches to the ACA’s Medicare provisions.”

Read this Kaiser Family Foundation issue brief in its entirety, click here.