The CDC is urging everyone, especially older adults (65+) to get their bivalent COVID-19 booster as soon as possible. Among hospitalized seniors, the updated booster provided significant additional protection against hospitalization compared with being unvaccinated or only receiving monovalent vaccination. During the holiday season, in particular, they’re also encouraging all adults 65 and older to further protect themselves from infection by masking and social distancing when possible.
Seniors signing up for Medicare Advantage (MA) during open enrollment (which ends Dec. 7) have more reasons to worry now that reporters at Kaiser Health News, MedPage Today and elsewhere have continued to uncover significant problems with these private managed care plans.
During open enrollment, reporters have a responsibility to explain the problems seniors may face with MA plans and to warn them about deceptive marketing practices.
And health care journalists should ask officials at the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) why it sets higher rates for health insurance brokers selling MA plans than the rates it sets for brokers to register seniors in Medicare Supplement (also called Medigap) plans that might be more appropriate for their needs. Continue reading
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.”
As the U.S. enters what experts predict may be the most severe months yet of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of infections and deaths among residents and workers in nursing homes is rapidly rising.
Much of the nation is experiencing a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, and perhaps no situation is more concerning than that of nursing home residents and workers. A report released Dec. 10 by two senators ― Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), ranking member of the Finance Committee, and Bob Casey (D-Penn.), ranking member of the Special Committee on Aging ― indicate an already-dire situation in nursing homes is worsening. Continue reading
We all know the toll that COVID-19 has taken on older adults in institutional settings. It’s prompted many aging advocates and policymakers to rethink how we deliver care to the frail elderly and whether the traditional nursing home model needs to change.
Many experts agree that more care should occur in community and home settings, but we lack enough clinicians to provide it and many states lack the resources to pay for it. However, home and community-based services (HCBS) can save money in the long term, studies have shown, and this care approach can work on many levels. Continue reading