October 25, 2012

The House Republican plan to repeal President Barack Obama’s health law and turn Medicaid into a block grant program would save the federal government $1.7 trillion from 2013 to 2022, a 38-percent spending reduction,according to a report this week by the Urban Institute for the Kaiser Family Foundation.


It would also result in 31 million to 38 million fewer people getting  Medicaid coverage in 2022, according to the report. The entitlement program, which is jointly financed by the state and federal governments, now provides health coverage to about 62 million poor people, about half of whom are children.


The block grant idea — paying a fixed sum to states — was formulated by Rep. Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate and chair of the House Budget committee, and passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives in 2011 and 2012. The strategy is part of the GOP plan to cut the nation’s $1 trillion federal deficit.


Romney backs a similar Medicaid block grant strategy that would cut $100 billion a year from Medicaid starting in 2013. Under Romney’s plan, federal payments to the states for Medicaid would grow at 1 percentage point a year above the Consumer Price Index. That would slow funding increases, but give states greater freedom in how they use the money, including the ability to cut eligibility or benefits to meet their budget needs. Today, the federal government sets minimum rules and guidelines and must approve any major changes to the program.


The Urban Institute analysis, which updates an analysis originally done in May 2011, said the House block grant plan would cut funding to hospitals by as much as $363.8 billion, and payments to nursing homes by $22.2 billion.


Of the $1.7 trillion cut to Medicaid spending, $932 billion of the reductions come from repealing the Medicaid expansion in Obama’s health law and $810 billion is a result of spending cuts that are part of the block grant.


Under the health law, Medicaid would expand to cover as many as 17 million more people starting in 2014. States have the option to decide whether to expand eligibility, and several Republican-led states including Florida and Texas say they can’t afford the expansion.


This article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


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For the 6th consecutive year, the Redding area has benefited from a community event called the Healthy Aging Summit.  This year the event continued under the primary sponsorship of the Independent Living Services of Northern California, led by Pam Thomason, Senior Specialist.  Under her direction, the Summit assumed an emphasis on promoting vision health for seniors 55 and over.

The core organizing was done with a committee composed of Pam, Deborah Uhl, Independent Living Specialist at ILSNC, Melinda Santos from Prevent Blindness and a community volunteer.  Additional help came from the Redding chapter of AARP, previous primary sponsors of the event, and the Opportunity Center, who assisted with the mailings.  We were able to use the Shasta Senior Nutrition building, a convenient setting for seniors.

Prominent local healthcare professionals provided expert advice to the seniors.  Robert Fox, MD in Ophthalmology, was a featured speaker.  Along with Dr. Fox, the staff from the Family Medical Eye Center was present, along with their optometrist, to provide full vision screenings.  Other speakers included Kristi Schaible on the impacts of smoking and how to quit, plus Joanne Tippin, RD, MS, on nutrition to enhance vision health.  Each of the speakers was excellent and had very good audience participation.

Along with the speakers, there were other medical screenings provided.  Memory screenings were provided by Willow Springs Alzheimer’s Care CenterHearing tests were provided by the Redding Hearing Institute.

Our 26 vendors ranged from A (Adaptive Technology) to S (Social Security).  The most popular attractions were the dogs from the Shasta County chapter of Guide Dogs for the Blind, led by Cathy Koch and Riviera, who brought along her human companion, Betty Millar.

(From Left to Right) Evan LeVang, Executive Director of ILSNC, Jan Blood of AARP & Pam Thomason of ILSNC

As the host agency, ILSNC alerted the Redding community to our services.  Vision Resource and Assistive Technology were big draws to the participants. The Vision Resource booth was able to receive 23 new consumers. We had 225 attendees, lunch was provided and we had four free drawings. The feedback from the event has been outstanding.  ILSNC is quite pleased with the results.  A good time was had by all. The entire event was free of charge.  We look forward to producing this event next year.


Obama Administration Announces New Steps to Fight Alzheimer’s Disease

The Obama Administration is making an additional $50 million available for cutting-edge Alzheimer’s research. The administration’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget will increase funding for Alzheimer’s research by $80 million, plus an additional $26 million for caregiver support, provider education and public awareness about the disease. This new funding will speed up the National Institutes of Health’s effort to develop new ways of helping people with Alzheimer’s disease and those at risk.

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