Category Archives: Aging

New legislation may improve advance care planning

Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA)

Journalists may want to keep an eye on new companion bills recently introduced in the House and Senate. The legislation would expand access to critical advance planning services in Medicare and allow people with serious illness to access more advance care planning services.

The Improving Access to Advance Care Planning Act would allow social workers to provide advance care planning (ACP) services, remove beneficiary cost-sharing, promote increased education for providers on current ACP codes, and improve reporting on barriers to providing ACP services and billing the corresponding codes. The bill was introduced in the Senate by Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and in the House by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).

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How I did it: Reporting on apparent misconduct in influential Alzheimer’s research

Charles Piller

Alzheimer’s disease afflicts more than 6 million Americans. Yet since 1906, when Alois Alzheimer first saw characteristic sticky plaques in the brain of a deceased patient who had suffered from dementia, the search for a cure has seen failure after painful failure. That seemingly endless frustration was one reason my July investigation of suspect research into the cause of the disease and a questionable experimental drug to treat it became global news covered by hundreds of media outlets.

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CMS expands popular home and community-based program

Photo by SHVETS production via pexels.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid is funding five additional states and territories to expand access to home and community-based services through Medicaid’s Money Follows the Person (MFP) demonstration program.

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Inflation Reduction Act will benefit millions of older adults

Photo by RODNAE Productions from via pexels.

Millions of older adults will soon benefit from lower prescription drug prices and a cap on out-of-pocket costs thanks to landmark legislation signed into law by President Biden today. Continue reading

An uptick in nursing home COVID deaths, cases

Photo by Maryland GovPics via Flickr.

COVID-related nursing home cases and deaths are on the rise again, according to recently published data on AARP’s COVID-19 dashboard. And while these rates are nowhere near the levels of 2020 or early 2021, it’s still a troublesome sign that new COVID variants are making their way into facilities tasked with caring for vulnerable older adults.

Rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths rose in June for the second month in a row — with resident cases increasing by 27% for the four weeks ending June 19. That means about one in every 35 nursing home residents nationally tested positive. Staff positivity rates increased by 42% in the same period — about one in every 28. It’s not clear, however, whether staff were infected in the community or contracted COVID in the nursing home. Death rates are trending up too — increasing by about 54% in June compared with the previous month, according to AARP’s data, which is culled from Information on COVID-19 reported by nursing homes to the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN).

Journalists can use this data to closely follow trends in their state, or even drill down to an individual facility level.

“We’ve actually had increasing cases for a couple of months now,” said Ari Houser, AARP senior methods advisor and lead data analyst on their nursing home COVID dashboard. “Preliminary CDC data through July 17 shows the trend continuing upward, so we’re not at the peak yet.”

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