Maine Center for Elder Law Blog

Friday, November 19, 2010

AP Exclusive: Raising retirement age hurts poor

WASHINGTON – Raising the retirement age for Social Security would disproportionately hurt low-income workers and minorities, and increase disability claims by older people unable to work, government auditors told Congress.

The projected spike in disability claims could harm Social Security's finances because disability benefits typically are higher than early retirement payments, the Government Accountability Office concluded.

The report, obtained by The Associated Press ahead of its scheduled release Friday, provides fodder for those opposed to raising the eligibility age for benefits, as proposed by the leaders of President Barack Obama's deficit commission.

To read the full article, click here:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Helping veterans and their spouses pay for long-term care

There are currently more than 25 million veterans alive in the United States and more than 9 million surviving spouses of veterans currently living in the United States.

Many of these veterans and surviving spouses are receiving long term care or will need some type of long term care in the near future, and there are funds available from the Veterans Administration ("VA") to help pay for that care. Unfortunately, many of those who are eligible have no idea that any type of benefits exist for them or that an attorney can help them become eligible.

There are three types of benefits available that provide a monthly cash payment to veterans who have long term health care needs. Read the Maine Center for Elder Law newsletter to learn about what benefits are available and who qualifies.

Full article:,%20Volume%201,%20Issue%203.pdf

Thursday, October 28, 2010

USM Muskie School receives federal grant to improve patient safety among elderly

Portland, Maine — Researchers at the USM Muskie School have received a two-year grant from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to develop and test patient safety practices that improve communication and information flow during transitions of patients and care between nursing facilities, emergency medical services and critical access hospitals.

Hands-off and care transition errors are among the most common and consequential errors in health care. Transfers between nursing homes and hospitals present significant challenges because they involve multiple settings, many different health care providers and exchange of patient care information.

 “The quality of care during the transfer can be affected by missing or inaccurate information, which can then snowball into other problems,” said Judy Tupper, a project director at the Muskie School. “This is particularly important for Maine as an older, rural state. Rural elders are more likely to reside in nursing facilities and face more frequent transfers to the hospital.”

Full story:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Health care law fact check: Medicaid and health spending

Starting in 2014, the new health care law will require participating states to cover everyone earning 133 percent of the poverty level or less through Medicaid. It is estimated that this will bring 16 million to 23 million more people into Medicaid. The federal government will pick up nearly all the cost of these newly eligible beneficiaries, starting at 100 percent from 2014 to 2016 and gradually decreasing its share to 90 percent from 2020 onwards.

The impact of this mandate could vary considerably. States such as Texas and Alabama that have had narrow eligibility rules will add far more people to their rolls. But they will also get a lot more federal dollars to cover the extra cost. States such as Massachusetts and New York, whose current rules are more expansive, may see fewer new enrollees, but initially they'll get less federal help to cover them.

Such states could also see savings because many people they have been helping will be eligible for federal subsidies to buy insurance on state-based exchanges.

So what's the bottom line? Estimates vary widely.

Read the whole story:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Updated fact sheet on Medicare prescription benefit

The Kaiser Family Foundation provides a fact sheet about the Medicare prescription drug benefit, Part D. The updated fact sheet for 2011 is available here,

More than half of all Medicare beneficiaries (60 percent or 27.7 million) are enrolled in Medicare Part D plans as of February 2010, according to the fact sheet.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Officials: Seniors will be OK under private Medicare plan

WASHINGTON — Virtually none of the 11 million seniors who choose private health insurance plans under Medicare will lose access to those plans next year, federal officials announced Tuesday, despite fears that strict payment rates under the new health care law would cause some insurers to drop out.

In addition, average monthly premiums in the popular Medicare Advantage program will drop by 45 cents, or slightly more than 1%, following negotiations between the government and private insurers. This year, premiums rose by about 15%.

Full story:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Brave Old World, A multimedia look at aging

A journalism initiative combines a new approach to journalism to examine aging in America.  The report looks at issues such as what it is like to grow old and how do people grapple with the physical and emotional changes.

See the project:

Monday, August 16, 2010

NYT: Moose Offer Trail of Clues on Arthritis

The moose of Isle Royale have something to say — well, their bones do. Many of the moose, it turns out, have arthritis. And scientists believe their condition’s origin can help explain human osteoarthritis — by far the most common type of arthritis, affecting one of every seven adults 25 and older and becoming increasingly prevalent.

The arthritic Bullwinkles got that way because of poor nutrition early in life, an extraordinary 50-year research project has discovered. That could mean, scientists say, that some people’s arthritis can be linked in part to nutritional deficits, in the womb and possibly throughout childhood.

The moose conclusion bolsters a small but growing body of research connecting early development to chronic conditions like osteoarthritis, which currently affects 27 million Americans, up from 21 million in 1990.

Full story:

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The Maine Center for Elder Law, LLC, assists clients with Medicaid (MaineCare) Planning, Planning for VA Aid and Attendance Eligibility, Special Needs Planning, Estate Planning, and Probate, Estate & Trust Administration matters in York County, Cumberland County and nearby Maine counties.

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