Alerts 2011

Income Network Alert: Social Security Probation Case: Class Certification Will Benefit Countless Thousands (12/22/2011).  The district court in Clark v. Astrue granted a motion made by plaintiffs in March to amend the definition of the plaintiff class. The class could number  as many as 100,000 people and individual relief may be  substantial. To read more about the case, click here.

Health Network Alert:  California Settlement Preserves Access to Adult Day Health Care (12/9/11) On November 17, 2011 seven plaintiffs who represent a class of 35,000 low-income people with disabilities, including older adults, and the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) reached a settlement in a federal lawsuit that challenged the State’s planned elimination of Adult Day Health Care as a Medi-Cal benefit on December 1, 2011 (Darling et al. v. Douglas).

Health Network Alert:  Table Helps Calculate Medicaid Eligibility Under Pickle Amendment (12/5/11) Social Security announced this fall for the first time since 2009 that there will be a cost of living adjustment in Social Security and SSI benefits effective January 1.

Income Network Alert:  Senate Passes Bill to Extend SSI Eligibility for Refugees; Action in House Uncertain (10/27/11) The Senate last week passed S. 1721, the “SSI Extension for Elderly and Disabled Refugees Act of 2011.” The bill, which was passed by unanimous consent, would, if enacted into law, restore benefits to approximately 4,000 refugees, asylees and other humanitarian immigrants whose benefits were suspended on Sept. 30 and would prevent a few thousand more from losing benefits over the course of the next year.

Income Network Alert:  SSI Refugee Benefits Suspended – CAPI Program Can Fill the Gap (10/25/11) About 4,000 refugees, asylees and other humanitarian immigrants lost their SSI benefits on October 1, 20011.

Health Network Alert:  Opening Day at Supreme Court Could Shut Courthouse Doors to the Poor (9/28/11) NSCLC’s Directing Attorney Rochelle Bobroff has written a blog for the American Constitutional Society (ACS) on the significance of Douglas v. Independent Living Center.

Income Network Alert: Refugee, Asylees and Others Need Our Support  (9/23/11) NSCLC urges advocates to call Congress to extend deadline for SSI refugees and humanitarian immigrants.

Income Network Alert: Vital SSI Lifeline for Refugees at Risk (9/22/11) On September 30, 2011, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits will expire for many refugees, asylees and other humanitarian immigrants, but there is hope that their benefits will be extended.

Health Network Alert: CMS Notifies States of Limited MOE Flexibility in HCBS Waiver Programs (9/19/11)  Advocates in states that may be contemplating cuts to HCBS waiver programs should be aware of the limits of the states’ authority to make changes, both under the Affordable Care Act and other sources.

Health Network Alert: Medicaid Home Health Services Should Not Be Limited to “Homebound” Persons  (9/8/11) Over the years, state Medicaid programs have too frequently imposed improper limitations on home health benefits.

Health Network Alert: Medicare Plans Must Offer Flexibility To Ensure Access in Disaster Areas  (9/7/11)  For advocates in areas where there has been a “major disaster” declaration, this is a reminder that CMS has guidance in place that requires Medicare plans to take specific steps to make it easier for Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in Part C (Medicare Advantage) and Part D (prescription drug) plans to obtain needed medication and treatment when normal access is disrupted.

Health Alert: Dual Eligibles Encounter Problems Accessing Needed Benefits (8/24/11) Low-income older adults who have both Medicare and Medicaid are sometimes unable to get essential medical equipment, may experience gaps in prescription drug coverage and frequently encounter language barriers in trying to communicate with their doctors and those who manage the programs.

Health Network Alert: URGENT: Comments Needed on Important Language Access Standard  (7/18/11) IMPORTANT: Please provide comments to the CMS, IRS and the DOL on proposed regulations governing private health care plans. The regulations as proposed are a significant step backward from the version issued in 2010 and affect about 12 million individuals.

Health Network Alert: Consumer Protection for Dual Eligibles Important in New Integrated Care Models (7/15/11) Efforts underway to integrate Medicare and Medicaid benefits bring great promise but also great risk for the nine million low-income people who rely on both programs to meet their health and long term care needs.

Health Alert: Are Assisted Living Residents Being Unfairly Evicted After Spending Down to Medicaid Levels?  (7/12/11)  A discriminatory facility practice brings anxiety, trauma, and dislocation to vulnerable elders and their families.

Health Network Alert: CMS Issues Guidance on Medicaid Rules for Same Sex Partners (7/8/11)  CMS has issued a letter to states that identifies strategies they may employ to address the adverse impact that the federal law’s definition of “marriage” has on same-sex couples who receive Medicaid assistance.

Health Network Alert: Seeking Medicare Beneficiaries Harmed by Being on “Observation Status” in Hospital (6/27/11) NSCLC and the Center for Medicare Advocacy are looking for Medicare beneficiaries who have been harmed after a stay in the hospital by being classified as “observation status.” As a result of observation status, a beneficiary can be saddled with out-of-pocket costs for the hospital stay, and/or lose Medicare coverage for subsequent nursing home care.

Income Network Alert: SSA Posts Instructions to ALJs on Clark v Astrue (6/23/11) The Social Security Administration has posted on its website instructions to Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) and other ODAR personnel with regards to applying the agency’s new policy with regard to probation and parole warrants to all pending appeals.

Health Network Alert: CMS Looking for Comments on Dual Eligible “Alignment Opportunities” (6/15/11)  CMS is seeking comments on and reactions to a list of what the agency is calling “alignment opportunities” between Medicare and Medicaid programs for dual eligibles.

Health Network Alert: New Regulations Will Determine if Medicaid Can Pay for Assisted Living (6/10/11)  CMS has proposed important new regulations for the operation of Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waivers. Most importantly, the proposed regulations set requirements for when a setting can be considered community-based and thus eligible for HCBS funding.

Health Network Alert: Health Care Reform Implementation Update (6/9/11) The passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) directed sweeping reforms to the nation’s health care system. However, the enactment of the legislation in March 2010 only represented the beginning of a lengthy and challenging process to improve the health care system.

Health Network Alert: Advocacy Needed for California Dual Eligibles (5/23/11) We want to alert advocates for people who are dually eligible for Medi-Cal and Medicare to an important opportunity to provide input to the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) on a developing initiative to integrate and coordinate the care of dual eligibles.

Health Network Alert: Changing Medicaid Could Cause Problems for Assisted Living Residents (5/5/11)
In light of current Congressional budget proposals to block grant Medicaid and presumably make it easier for states to ignore federal Medicaid law.

Health Network Alert: Medicaid Block Grants Means Low Income Older Adults Could Lose Benefits (4/26/11) 
The result of block granting Medicaid would mean taking health care coverage away from millions of low-income older adults and people with disabilities.

Income Network Alert: SSI Transfer Penalty Should Be Repealed (4/21/11) In a Policy Issue Brief entitled SSI Transfer Penalty: Harsh Consequences Need Attention, NSCLC says that “considering the hardship that the transfer penalty causes to SSI beneficiaries without a strong rationale for the policy, action should be taken to repeal the penalty.”

Health Network Alert: CMS Adopts 5 % Translation Threshold for Medicare Marketing (4/8/11) 
CMS adopted a final rule that will require Medicare health plans and prescription drug plans to translate marketing materials into any language that is the primary language of at least five percent of individuals in a plan benefit package service area.

Income Network Alert: Treasury Issues New Rules Covering Directly Deposited Benefits (3/29/11) 
In spite of long-standing statutory provisions protecting Social Security and other federal benefits from creditors, judgment-creditors routinely get banks to freeze accounts containing exempt funds and regularly satisfy their judgments with such funds, often leaving the account-holder destitute.

Income Network Alert: Nationwide Class Certified in Clark v. Astrue (3/25/11) A court in New York has certified a nationwide class in a successful challenge to the Social Security Administration’s policy of suspending or denying Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits whenever someone had an outstanding warrant for an alleged violation of probation or parole.

Income Network Alert: Make Your Voice Heard on Social Security (3/2/11) The U.S. Senate has the opportunity to stop the House-passed budget that would cut the Social Security Administration’s funding by $1.7 billion this year.


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