China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study

  • Aging Chinese face a bleak picture, By Tom Orlik, May 30, 2013, Wall Street Journal: “China’s elderly are poor, sick and depressed in alarming numbers, according to the first large-scale survey of those over 60, an immense challenge for Beijing and one of the greatest long-term vulnerabilities of the Chinese economy. The survey of living conditions for China’s 185 million elderly paints a bleak picture that defies the efforts of the government to build what it calls a ‘harmonious society,’ one dedicated to human welfare rather than simply economic growth. Of the generation that built China’s economic boom, 22.9%—or 42.4 million—live in poverty with consumption of less than 3,200 yuan a year ($522). The fear of being old and poor, which prompts many Chinese to stash away their earnings, also cuts against another of Beijing’s priorities: to rebalance the economy toward stronger consumption…”
  • New portrait of China’s 185 million seniors, By Charles Riley, May 31, 2013, CNNMoney: “The study, with a sample size of almost 18,000, offers a rare snapshot of China’s rapidly aging population. China currently has more than 185 million citizens over the age of 60. The elderly now account for around 12% of China’s population, a figure that is predicted to swell to 34% by 2050. And significant challenges are ahead. At present, 32% of elderly Chinese reported having poor health, 38% said they were disabled, 23% are below the poverty line and 40% show symptoms of depression…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – New York City

Many Staten Islanders in need miss out on food stamps, By Judy L. Randall, May 13, 2013, Staten Island Advance: “The way Saeeda Usmani sees it, her participation in the federal food stamp program has been a godsend. At 71, the retired nurse from Stapleton couldn’t afford to maintain her medically mandated gluten-free diet, which can be pricey, without assistance. As it is, because Ms. Usmani tires easily, she goes to the supermarket only every three weeks and carefully husbands the fresh fruits and vegetables that she purchases with the $173 she receives each month from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), the current name for food stamps. But Ms. Usmani is something of a rarity among SNAP-eligible low-income Staten Islanders 60 and older: Only 23 percent participate in the program here, the lowest percentage among the five boroughs…”

Medicaid and Medicare Dual Eligibles – California

Low-income California seniors to move into new managed care plan, By Anna Gorman, March 27, 2013, Los Angeles Times: “In a major shift triggered by the national healthcare law, nearly half a million low-income California seniors and disabled patients will begin moving into a new managed care program this fall. The patients, who receive both Medi-Cal and Medicare, are among the most costly in the state. Officials believe that the program, Cal MediConnect, will reduce spending and improve care by shifting the patients out of a fragmented system and into one that is more coordinated. The state and the federal government signed an agreement Wednesday officially establishing a test program for the patients, known as dual eligibles…”

Medicaid and Long-Term Care

With Medicaid, long-term care of elderly looms as a rising cost, By Nina Bernstein, September 6, 2012, New York Times: “Medicaid has long conjured up images of inner-city clinics jammed with poor families. Its far less-visible role is as the only safety net for millions of middle-class people whose needs for long-term care, at home or in a nursing home, outlast their resources. With baby boomers and their parents living longer than ever, few families can count on their own money to go the distance. So while Medicare has drawn more attention in the election campaign, seniors and their families may have even more at stake in the future of Medicaid changes – those proposed, and others already under way. Though former President Bill Clinton overstated in his convention speech on Wednesday how much Medicaid spends on the elderly in nursing homes – they account for well under a third, not nearly two-thirds, of spending – Medicaid spends more than five times as much on each senior in long-term care as it does on each poor child, and even more per person on the disabled in long-term care…”

Low-Income Seniors – San Francisco, CA

Low-income seniors struggle in S.F., By Kevin Fagan, August 26, 2012, San Francisco Chronicle: “Beverly Brumfield worked hard all her life, but she didn’t really know hard until the golden years hit. She had no savings. She was alone. Her Social Security check didn’t cover rent. It’s a very American story, with federal statistics showing that a quarter of the country’s senior citizens are poor, a third say it’s hard to meet monthly expenses, and nearly half say they have housing problems. In some places, this translates into cramming in with family, or at worst, homelessness…”

Hunger Among Seniors – Florida

Hunger risk grows for older Floridians, By Sonja Isger, August 9, 2012, Palm Beach Post: “Rena Drye once relished cooking a good stuffed pepper or cheesecake. But after multiple heart attacks and a big fall, the 91-year-old woman uses a wheelchair and must rely on home-delivered meals to fill her plate at least once a day. Drye, who lives in suburban West Palm Beach, is one of 1,800 seniors in our area who benefit from a federally funded meals program that began in 1965. But more than 560 other seniors across Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast are waiting for that help.  Statewide, the waiting list for home-delivered meals has more than doubled in the last nine years from 2,976 in 2003 to 7,854 last month, reflecting a national problem of hunger among the elderly. Those in charge of programs to deliver meals to seniors say they face many challenges, including a budget from the federal government that has failed to keep up with inflation, food and transportation costs that have increased the cost of each meal, and an elderly population that is booming in a time of economic hardship…”

SNAP Enrollment Among Seniors – Texas

More Texas seniors relying on food stamps, By Cindy Horswell and Renèe C. Lee, July 15, 2012, San Antonio Express-News: “At age 64, Paulette Lanius is a ‘Golden Boomer’ – one of the 76 million American babies born after World War II, a legacy of the legions of men and women described as the Greatest Generation. But the future for this Houston woman and thousands of other seniors appears to be far from great. The fastest-growing group of Texans receiving food stamps is the 60-64 age bracket. In the past six years, the number of those residents receiving food assistance – now issued in the form of a benefit debit card – has jumped by 106 percent to 85,000 as of this month, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. The total number of recipients from all age groups has increased 58 percent…”

Unemployment and Older Workers

Over 55 and jobless, Americans face tough hunt, By Susan Heavey, May 15, 2012, Chicago Tribune: “Jean Coyle, 67, has a new kind of ministry. The former professor had just begun a career as a Presbyterian minister in Virginia when the economic downturn forced her church to let her go in 2007. After that, she found only temporary work. She relied on savings while job hunting, but at 64, had to dip into her Social Security benefits. She officially retired in 2010. For spending money, she plans to start teaching a water aerobics class to earn $40 a week. ‘I’m not going to get wealthy on that,’ she said. ‘It’s not really the ministry I expected to have.’ Coyle is among the many unemployed, older Americans who, while struggling to reenter the workforce, have growing worries that their retirement security is at risk. The number of long-term unemployed workers aged 55 and older has more than doubled since the recession began in late 2007. Getting back to work is increasingly difficult, according to a government report being released on Tuesday…”

People Living in Poverty – Northern Ireland

Rise in level of poverty among working households in NI, May 2, 2012, BBC News: “A report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has examined the impact of the economic downturn on households in Northern Ireland since 2009. It said half of the 120,000 children living in poverty are in a household with at least one working parent. It also found that that over a fifth of NI pensioners are living in poverty. The report, Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion in Northern Ireland, was published on Wednesday…”

State Medicaid Cuts – Wisconsin, Texas

  • Lawmakers approve Medicaid cuts, By Jason Stein, March 14, 2012, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “An estimated 22,800 people would leave or be turned away from the state’s health programs for the poor, under a cost-cutting proposal revised by a legislative committee Wednesday. The Joint Finance Committee approved the revised Medicaid cuts on a 12-4 vote, with all Republicans voting in favor and all Democrats voting against. The number of people expected to lose or drop their coverage was about one-third the number that would have lost it under the original proposal put forward by Gov. Scott Walker’s administration, which would have affected 64,800 people. The number of children losing their coverage fell even more sharply to 2,900 from the original proposal of 29,100 children. The proposal also would save less state money – $36.5 million through June 2013 instead of $90.2 million…”
  • Doctors, their oldest patients starting to smart from new state health cuts, By Tim Eaton, March 14, 2012, Austin American-Statesman: “About 10 percent of patients seen by Bruce Malone, an Austin orthopedic surgeon, are referred to in medical circles as ‘dual-eligibles.’ They are the state’s oldest and poorest: the patients who can receive benefits from both Medicare and Medicaid. They have also been targeted by legislative budget writers. When state legislators tried to close the gaping, multibillion-dollar budget deficit last year, deep cuts needed to be made. And publicly funded medical care – like just about every other portion of the budget – was going to take a hit. Now, the consequences of cuts to Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for low-income people and people with disabilities, are coming to light, and some doctors and medical organizations say new regulations threaten the practices of some Texas doctors by reducing their payments…”

Medicaid and Adult Care – North Carolina

Medicaid deadline jeopardizes residents of adult care homes, By Lynn Bonner, March 14, 2012, Charlotte Observer: “Thousands of families could soon be scrambling to find care for relatives living in the state’s adult care homes if the state continues to violate federal rules. The federal government has given the state Department of Health and Human Services until April 30 to have an approved Medicaid plan for people receiving personal care services. State officials acknowledge that they won’t meet the deadline and are working for an extension. If the state doesn’t get the extra time, thousands of people in adult care homes could be turned out because their full costs won’t be paid – about 20,300 people on Medicaid receive personal care services in adult care homes and about 25,500 receive in-home services. People receiving personal care at home would lose their services, too…”

State Medicaid Programs – North Carolina, Ohio, Missouri

  • Pregnancy medical homes gain momentum in North Carolina, By Christine Vestal, February 24, 2012, Stateline.org: “Like most southern states, North Carolina has a higher than average rate of infant deaths and premature births. So it made sense to Medicaid Director Craigan Gray, a trained obstetrician, to attack the problem head on. Shortly after taking over in 2009, he began a campaign to create a new kind of program that would identify Medicaid beneficiaries with high-risk pregnancies sooner than before and use proven medical procedures to help prevent problems at birth. Launched less than a year ago, Gray’s program, called pregnancy medical homes, is showing promise…”
  • Sickest unsettled by state’s plans to change long-term care, By Catherine Candisky, February 27, 2012, Columbus Dispatch: “The state plans sweeping changes to the way it provides long-term care and other health services to 190,000 Ohioans eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. ‘Dual eligibles’ are among the sickest and most expensive to care for. In Ohio, they make up 10 percent of the 2.1 million on Medicaid, yet they account for 46 percent of long-term-care costs. Gov. John Kasich’s administration wants to better coordinate their care. But details are sketchy, and that’s created a lot of worry for enrollees such as Carl Meyers, 86, of Westerville…”
  • Mo. changing rules for Medicaid ‘spend down’ plan, By Wes Duplantier (AP), February 27, 2012, Southeast Missourian: “Some low-income seniors and people with disabilities in Missouri could have to pay more out of their pockets to qualify for Medicaid coverage under changes being initiated after the state realized it was running afoul of federal rules. About 24,000 Missouri residents qualify for Medicaid — even though their income is higher than the program’s federal limits — by ‘spending down’ the difference between their monthly income and the federal eligibility limit. They do that in one of two ways — sending the state a cash payment, sort of like a monthly insurance premium, or by submitting medical bills that show they spent that excess income on medications and treatments. About one-third of the people in the program submit medical bills to satisfy their monthly ‘spend down’ amount. The problem, as state officials told a Senate panel last week, is that the state might have been giving people too much credit toward their monthly ‘spend down’ amount…”

Child and Senior Poverty

As seniors climb from poverty, young fall in, By Marisol Bello, February 16, 2012, USA Today: “Living in rural North Carolina, Linda Sue Jones doesn’t see her teenage son as the archetype of a national trend. But 15-year-old Josh, as a boy who lives in the South in a household headed by a single woman, is characteristic of the exploding numbers of children in the USA living in poverty – numbers exacerbated by the recession that has pushed many families into poverty for the first time. Twenty miles away, Kenneth Moody, 70, and his wife, Margie, 65, say they, too, are struggling, especially because of high out-of-pocket medical bills. They stay off the poverty rolls because of the $2,000 they receive from Social Security every month. They pay more than $300 a month for prescription drugs but say their medical costs would be even higher if they didn’t have Medicare. ‘It’s life,’ says Margie Moody. ‘That pays our bills, buys our food, pays for the doctor.’ The two families highlight a national trend over the past three decades as child poverty steadily rises and poverty among seniors, aided by social programs, steadily drops…”

Medicaid and Adult Day Health Care – California

California adult day healthcare centers get a reprieve, By Anna Gorman, November 18, 2011, Los Angeles Times: “Just weeks before the planned closure of adult day healthcare centers throughout California, state officials and disability rights attorneys reached a legal settlement Thursday that preserves services for those low-income seniors and disabled residents most at risk of being institutionalized. The state, which faces a $3.7-billion revenue shortfall, had targeted the centers as part of a plan to reduce spending on Medi-Cal, the government health program for the poor and disabled. Adult day healthcare centers provide nursing care, occupational therapy, physical therapy, meals and exercise to people with serious disabilities, brain injuries and chronic illnesses…”

High-Speed Internet Access

  • FCC launching $4-billion program to narrow digital divide, By Alexa Vaughn, November 9, 2011, Los Angeles Times: “The Federal Communications Commission is launching a $4-billion program to narrow the digital divide by making high-speed Internet access and computers more affordable for more than 25 million mainly low-income Americans. The FCC said a public-private partnership, which includes major broadband and computer companies and nonprofits, will make ‘the biggest effort ever’ across the nation to help poorer citizens as well as rural residents, seniors and minorities obtain broadband access. Those who qualify would pay $9.95 a month for Internet access at 1 megabit per second and $150 for a refurbished laptop running the Windows 7 operating system, along with applications that include digital literacy training…”
  • Internet access: Discount for poor families with kids, By Peter Svensson (AP), November 10, 2011, Christian Science Monitor: “Cable companies said Wednesday that they will offer Internet service for $9.95 per month to homes with children that are eligible for free school lunches. The offer will start next summer and is part of an initiative the Federal Communications Commission cobbled together to get more U.S. homes connected to broadband. One third, or about 35 million homes, don’t have broadband. That affects people’s ability to educate themselves and find and apply for jobs, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said…”

Medicaid and Adult Day Health Care – California

State budget cuts threaten day programs for thousands of seniors and the disabled, By Sandy Kleffman, November 8, 2011, Contra Costa Times: “State budget cuts that go into effect Dec. 1 will eliminate funding for day programs for thousands of seniors and the disabled, creating angst among relatives who say their lives will be turned upside down. Some fear they will have to send their elders to institutions. Others worry they will need to quit jobs to care for them. Unless a pending lawsuit blocks the plan, the state will halt $169 million in annual Medi-Cal funding for 35,000 people in 287 adult day health care programs throughout California, jeopardizing many of the programs…”

Older Adults and Food Insecurity

Tennessee boomers face growing threat of hunger, By Stephanie Toone, September 11, 2011, The Tennessean: “Therese Marrs has learned the art of stretching a link of smoked sausage, a jar of cheese and a box of macaroni into three meals every week. The 56-year-old Smyrna mother struggles to make the meals come together for her husband and 16-year-old daughter each week, since she was laid off from her quality assurance job at a factory in February. She spends almost every day looking for jobs, but she fears the worst once her unemployment benefits run out in a few months. ‘I’ve learned how to cut my meals. My food stamps only stretch about three weeks, so the food bank helps,’ Marrs said. ‘I’ve been working in factories since I was 15, but I can’t seem to get anybody to hire me.’ Marrs is among the 1 in 6 Tennesseans and 15.6 million older adults who face the threat of hunger as a result of a lingering weak economy in America, according to a recently released AARP report, ‘Food Insecurity Among Older Adults…'”

Grandparents as Caregivers to Grandchildren

Aging America: Grandparents stepping in to help grandkids as families struggle in bad economy, Associated Press, August 26, 2011, Washington Post: “America is swiftly becoming a granny state. Less frail and more involved, today’s grandparents are shunning retirement homes and stepping in more than ever to raise grandchildren while young adults struggle in the poor economy. The newer grandparents are mainly baby boomers who are still working, with greater disposable income. Now making up 1 in 4 adults, grandparents are growing at twice the rate of the overall population and sticking close to family – if their grandkids aren’t already living with them. Grandparents in recent decades have often filled in for absent parents who were ill or battled addiction, or were sent to prison. The latest trend of grandparent involvement, reflected in census figures released Thursday, is now being driven also by the economy and the graying U.S. population, including the 78 million boomers born between 1946 and 1964 who began turning 65 this year…”

Economic Security of Seniors – Michigan

  • Poverty study: 1 in 3 Michigan senior citizens struggles with money, By Robin Erb, July 20, 2011, Detroit Free Press: “A third of Michigan’s seniors are considered ‘economically insecure’ – far more than the federal poverty limits would suggest, according to a new study. Moreover, even in counties that are home to some of the most affluent suburbs where the wealthiest will buoy the overall median household income, at least one in four seniors on the other end of the economic scale struggles to make ends meet, according to the paper, ‘Invisible Poverty: New Measure Unveils Financial Hardship in Michigan’s Older Population…'”
  • Study: Third of Lansing-area seniors are struggling financially, By Kathleen Lavey, July 19, 2011, Lansing State Journal: “More than one-third of Michigan’s senior citizens are struggling to pay for food, housing, transportation and medical care they need, according a report to be released today. Those who do not own homes or who rely solely on Social Security payments to live are at much greater risk, says the report by Wayne State University researchers. ‘These numbers are very frightening,’ said Kate White, executive director of Elder Law of Michigan, an advocacy and service group that is releasing the Michigan- focused report today along with the report’s authors…”

Health Expenses of Low-Income Seniors on Medicare

Medicare doesn’t cover many health-care expenses for low-income seniors, By N.C. Aizenman, July 18, 2011, Washington Post: “Helen Johnson gave a welcoming smile to the group of older men and women who had assembled at the senior center in the Maryland Eastern Shore town of Snow Hill on a recent evening. All of them were caregivers for spouses or parents with debilitating illnesses. ‘We’re very concerned about you,’ began Johnson, 74, who organizes support programs for a nonprofit agency serving the elderly. ‘You spend so much time tending to your loved ones, you don’t have time for your self.’ But Johnson’s comforting message masked worries of her own. There was the gnawing pain in her arthritic knee, which gets so bad by late afternoon that she can’t stand up for more than a few minutes at a time. There was her dread of the drive home after dark, which has become difficult as her eyesight has weakened. And perhaps most wearying, there was the knowledge that despite her dislike of working evening hours, she had no alternative. Nearly a decade after reaching retirement age and qualifying for Medicare, Johnson cannot afford to give up her job. Even with the paycheck it brings, her income is only a few notches above the federal poverty level…”