Quotes of the Week

This page has quotes from the 2024 Dignity Digest issues, beginning in January, ordered by newest first.

For previous quotes, visit:

February 27, 2024

“By speaking out at such a young age, [HIV activist  Hydeia Broadbent] helped so many people, young and old, because she wasn’t afraid to share her story and allowed everyone to see that those living with HIV and AIDS were everyday people and should be treated with respect.”

Magic Johnson, HIV/AIDS activist Hydeia Broadbent, known for her inspirational talks as a young child, dies at 39, ABC News, February 22, 2024

“I have dedicated my whole life to this fight [regarding H.I.V/AIDS]. I don’t hate my life. I feel like I’m really blessed. But at the same time, my life doesn’t have to be their life. I didn’t have a choice when it came to H.I.V./AIDS, and people do have a choice.”

Hydeia Broadbent, Hydeia Broadbent, H.I.V. and AIDS Activist, Dies at 39, *New York Times, February 21, 2024

[Medicare fraudster Philip] Esformes is said to have bribed doctors to put patients into his nursing homes, where they frequently received inadequate care or were given unnecessary services that were then billed to Medicare and Medicaid.

Nursing Home Mogul Philip Esformes Pleads Guilty to Medicare Fraud, Given No Additional Jail Time or Fines (Skilled Nursing Homes, February 22, 2024)

[Nursing home] companies with revenue of $40 million or less paid their CEOs on average $439,768 for total compensation. Companies with revenue between $40 million and below $100 million paid their CEOs $456,499 on average for total compensation, while companies with upwards of $100 million in revenue paid their CEOs $822,507 on average per year for total compensation.

Long-Term Care Executive Salaries Jump 3.69% in 2023 Despite Operating Pressures at Nursing Homes, Skilled Nursing Homes, February 21, 2024

Clearly, private equity nursing homes are run differently than non-profit or for-profit nursing homes, whose nursing home stocks are available for anyone to buy.  In private equity facilities, nursing home care often takes a hit for the sake of wider profit margins. 

Nursing Home Investment Opportunities; Are They Worth It?, (www.Experience.care), August 3, 2023

Based on mediation analysis, more profit-oriented providers sold more drugs not only because they knowingly reported more false positives, but also because they promoted drugs sales more conditional on a positive test result. Thus, profit motivated providers seem to have misrepresented test results to sell more unnecessary malaria-related drugs.

The Essential Role of Altruism in Medical Decision Making, National Bureau of Economic Research, February 26, 2024

The number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to increase from 58 million in 2022 to 82 million by 2050 (a 47% increase), and the 65-and-older age group’s share of the total population is projected to rise from 17% to 23%.

The U.S population is older today than it has ever been. Between 1980 and 2022, the median age of the population increased from 30.0 to 38.9, but one-third (17) of states in the country had a median age above 40 in 2022.

Fact Sheet: Aging in the United States, Population Reference Bureau, January 9, 2024

[Blackstone Inc Chief Executive Steve]  Schwarzman reaped over $1.26 billion in pay and dividends for 2022, including more than $1 billion in dividends from his shares of Blackstone, the world’s largest private equity firm.

Blackstone CEO Schwarzman received $896.7 million in pay, dividends in 2023(Reuters, February 23, 2024)
[Editor’s note: $1.26 billion equals $3.5M per day; $144K per hour; $2.4k per minute; $40 per second.]

“It is incumbent on the state to try to assure that there’s adequate cash at any of the Steward hospitals to pay for needed staff supplies and third-party vendors that provide critical services.”

Paul Hattis, senior fellow at the Lown Institute, Steward does not provide all financial documents sought by Governor Healey(*Boston Globe, February 23, 2024)

“Organ procurement executives have acted with complete impunity for decades. They should not be above the law.

Greg Segal, co-founder of Organize, an activist group that seeks widespread reform of the transplant industry, U.S. launches probe into possible fraud by organ collection groups, *Washington Post, February 26, 2024

February 20, 2024

“One of the few guarantees in life is that it will never turn out the way we expect, but, rather than let the events in our lives define who we are, we can make the decision to define the possibilities in our lives.”

Dr. Brooke Ellison, Brooke Ellison, Prominent Disability Rights Advocate, Is Dead at 45, *New York Times, February 13, 2024 (updated)

“In 1990 we were living in a time when people in situations like my own were not necessarily embraced by society, and the path towards understanding was only beginning to be forged.

“I didn’t want people to focus on what I had lost in my life, but rather on what I still had in my life.

“Thankfully, my accident did not rob me of my ability to think, reason or remain a vital part of society. My body would not respond, but my mind and my heart were just the same as they had always been.”

Dr. Brooke Ellison, Brooke Ellison, Prominent Disability Rights Advocate, Is Dead at 45, *New York Times, February 13, 2024 (updated)

[Florida State Senator Colleen] Burton’s proposal would make it impossible to sue the [assisted living] facilities’ “passive investors” — companies or people that might own the facility but are not involved in its day-to-day operations.

Assisted living facilities are increasingly owned by real estate investors, which have been accused of prioritizing profits over care, The Washington Post reported in December.

Florida could make it harder to sue polluters, assisted living owners (*Tampa Bay Times, February 18, 2024)

“You see a lot of people with symptoms — you don’t know if they have covid or influenza or RSV — but in all three of those cases, they probably shouldn’t be at Target, coughing, and looking sick.”

Eli Perencevich, an internal medicine professor at the University of Iowa, CDC plans to drop five-day covid isolation guidelines, *Washington Post, February 13, 2024

“It becomes a question of ‘When do we start to plan our lives as if this is not going to go away?’ If every hope is put on a cure, what happens if the illness doesn’t go away?”

John S. Rolland, an adjunct professor of psychiatry at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and author of “Helping Couples and Families Navigate Illness and Disability”, How long covid takes a toll on relationships and intimacy, *Washington Post, February 13, 2024

“It’s not necessarily about overcoming the physical barriers; it’s about overcoming the psychological ones.”

Sam Williams, age 51, who has long Covid, How long covid takes a toll on relationships and intimacy, *Washington Post, February 13, 2024

“We know smoking is bad in multiple ways. We’ve added a new layer of understanding of how it can have negative health consequences. t’s never a good time to start smoking. But if you are a smoker, the best time to stop is now.”

Darragh Duffy, the Institute Pasteur, Smoking impairs immune response, even after quitting, new study says, STAT News, February 14, 2024

With U.S. health care consuming $4.5 trillion annually and adult life expectancy lagging that of 56 other countries, we must find a better way to prevent cardiovascular disease.

Art Kellermann, health policy researcher, former medical school dean, and former CEO of an academic health system, The health care system is ignoring world’s most promising approach to preventing cardiovascular disease, STAT News, February 14, 2024

The medical community now favors language that separates people from their conditions. But mine is central to who I am.

Linda Nelson, I am a diabetic — not ‘a person with diabetes’, Boston Globe, January 19, 2024 (updated)

“Routine influenza vaccination is an important component of the evidence-based practice in patients with cardiovascular disease, but like many other cardiovascular treatments, deep implementation gaps exist.”

Ankeet S. Bhatt, M.D., chair of the TRANSFORM VAX project steering committee, Veradigm, American College of Cardiology kick off flu shot campaign for heart disease patients (Fierce Pharma, February 14, 2024)

“We’re trying to get at Steward for what they’ve done here, but they’ve been very cagey. They’ve used some very creative financing and this whole private equity model is very slippery and ill-defined. This is sort of triage, ironically.”

U.S. Congressman Stephen Lynch, U.S. Rep. Lynch: Financing deal is ‘not enough’ to keep all Steward hospitals open, WBUR, February 16, 2024

“A hundred and twenty-three million people in this country are over 50. And we’re tired of the ‘Damn, you’re old’ cards.”

Jan Golden, creator of the Age-Friendly Vibes greeting card line, The Language Battle Is Now Coming for…Your Birthday Card? (*Wall Street Journal, February 16, 2024 (updated))

I think of memory more like a painting than a photograph. There are often photorealistic aspects of a painting, but there’s also interpretation. As a painter evolves, they could revisit the same subject over and over and paint differently based on who they are now. We’re capable of remembering things in extraordinary detail, but we infuse meaning into what we remember. We’re designed to extract meaning from the past, and that meaning should have truth in it. But it also has knowledge and imagination and, sometimes, wisdom.

Charan Ranganath, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of California, Davis, A Leading Memory Researcher Explains How to Make Precious Moments Last, *New York Times, February 2, 2024

“Hospice is not giving up,”  even if it means “accepting our mortality.”

Mollie Gurian, vice president of Leading Age, Advocates hope Jimmy Carter’s endurance in hospice care drives awareness (Politico, February 18, 2024)

“Where is the money going? That is what we need to find out. These nursing homes are saying they can’t pay their workers more than the $15.69 an hour minimum wage and they can’t pay medical benefits. And, so, when we do not hire the appropriate amount of people to take care of our residents, it hurts. It hurts the workers because they are overworked. I saw one case where one CNA had to cover 80 residents for an eight-hour period.”

Connecticut State Rep. Jane Garibay, Aging Committee Co-Chair, Aging Committee Co-Chair Garibay Questions Private Equity Ownership of Nursing Homes, Praises Bipartisan Cooperation (CT Examiner, February 18, 2024)

We increase our risk of cardiac events and speed up cognitive decline, studies show, if we believe getting older is a time of suffering and diminution. More important, the opposite is also true: Those of us who view later life as a time of growth and vitality are more likely to stay healthy and to keep senility at bay.

My Mother Got on a Bike. It Changed Her Life. New York Times (free access), February 17, 2024

Companies bought by private equity firms are far more likely to go bankrupt than companies that aren’t. Over the last decade, private equity firms were responsible for nearly 600,000 job losses in the retail sector alone. In nursing homes, where the firms have been particularly active, private equity ownership is responsible for an estimated — and astounding — 20,000 premature deaths over a 12-year period, according to a recent working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research. Similar tales of woe abound in mobile homes, prison health care, emergency medicine, ambulances, apartment buildings and elsewhere. Yet private equity and its leaders continue to prosper, and executives of the top firms are billionaires many times over.

Private Equity Is Gutting America — and Getting Away With It, New York Times (free access), April 28, 2023

“Ninety is the new 60. I’ve got several great friends in their 100s.”

Muriel Fox, one of the founders of the modern women’s movement, How 90 Became the New 60, New York Times (free access), April 12, 2023

February 13, 2024

“Critics of the current policy argue that estate recovery can reinforce cycles of poverty and prevent families from creating generational wealth, since the process often forces the sale of the deceased member’s home to pay off Medicaid-related debt. . . While MassHealth has made reforms in recent years to reduce the burden of estate recovery on impacted members and families, more can be done.”

From the report, Holding on to Home: A Primer on MassHealth Estate Recovery and Options for Reducing its Impact on Members and Families, Report Calls For MassHealth Estate Recovery Reforms, State House News Service, February 7, 2024

“Something doesn’t add up, and it’s well past time for the Legislature to be asking questions and taking action. Rather than allowing millions of taxpayer dollars to continue to pay for temporary workers who don’t know the residents they are serving, the Legislature should be insisting that these dollars be used to increase the pay and benefits for permanent staff members.”

John Hale, a consultant and advocate for Iowa seniors, Bill would cap payments from nursing homes and hospitals to temp agencies (Iowa Capital Dispatch, February 6, 2024)

“When it comes to disability, people think, ‘Ooh, that’s scary’ or ‘I’m going to say the wrong thing, so I better not even go near that…’ So, I just say, you have to start the journey and keep learning…It’s not about just getting it right. It’s actually about messing up, too. Because if you’re not making mistakes, how are you moving forward?

Sarah Napoli, Learning Services Director, New Road to Disability Inclusion stories are now available (The Disability & Philanthropy Forum, February 8, 2024)

“A hospital is no place to be sick.”

Samuel Goldwyn, Remote Patient Monitoring: A Leading Anchor of the ‘Hospital-at-Home’ Paradigm  (The American Journal of Medicine, October 23, 2023)

“We leave a lot to the whims of the market and allow private players to dictate access to and quality of health care, and the case of Help at Home is a great example of that. At the end of the day, it’s about money, and if we don’t have guardrails in our policies to prevent these pullouts, they’re going to keep happening.”

Mary Bugbee, senior research and campaign coordinator for health care at the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, a research and advocacy group, Private Equity’s Growing Footprint In Home Health Care Draws Scrutiny (Disability Scoop, February 8, 2024)

“I think discrimination as a wide is a major problem, and that our fair housing laws are there to protect individuals and individuals in protected classes, but that oftentimes those laws get ignored.”

Jessica Drew, senior attorney with the Greater Boston Legal Services, Massachusetts couple facing threat of eviction from mobile home park over handicapped ramp, WCVB, February 10, 2024 (updated)

“People in blue zones aren’t consciously trying to live a long time; instead, their longevity is a product of their environment.”

Dan Buettner, “Blue Zones” Author Dan Buettner Shares the Secrets to a Long and Healthy Life (Brain & Life, February / March 2024)

“He was just so dedicated to finding someone. And he actually met his girlfriend on Dateability. They happen to live in the same city. She’s also on the autism spectrum and they’re at the same place on the spectrum, so they’re just such a good match.”

Alexa Child, co-developer of Dateability, Meet the Sisters Who Co-Founded a Dating App for People With Disabilities, Nice News, February 10, 2024

“The COVID pandemic resulted in some of the most acute-care issues in nursing homes and congregate care settings. That’s why we are focusing on strengthening industry standards.”

Governor Ned Lamont (CT), Governor aims to post more nursing home data, pay providers incentives, McKnights Long-Term Care News, February 12, 2024

“We are not in a financial position to commit to financing anything to bail these people out  [Steward Health System].”

House Speaker Ron Mariano, Top House Dems Rule Out Steward Bailout (State House News, February 8, 2024)

“There are no happy tomorrows in this situation.”

Joseph Drolet, 79, husband of Rebecca, 71 who was in a nursing home and is now in a hospice, When a Spouse Goes to the Nursing Home, New York Times (free access), February 3, 2024

“Too often, institutionalization is thought of as the end of family caregiving. It’s not.” In fact, shouldering the new tasks of overseeing care, advocating on behalf of the resident and monitoring the staff means that “in some ways, there’s a chance of substituting one set of challenges for another.”

Dr. Jospeh Gaugler, a gerontologist at the University of Minnesota, When a Spouse Goes to the Nursing Home, New York Times (free access), February 3, 2024

“The prescription drug reforms in this law mark the most substantial changes to the Medicare D program since the drug benefit launched in 2006.”

Tricia Neuman, senior vice president of KFF, If You’re on Medicare, You Could Save Money on Drugs This Year, New York Times (free access), February 4, 2024

“I hate the notion of anybody ripping off Medicare. So many of us rely on it. It’s just plain ethically wrong.”

Linda Hennis, whose Medicare account was fraudulently charged for $12,000 worth of catheters, Staggering Rise in Catheter Bills Suggests Medicare Scam, *New York Times, February 9, 2024

“Each person was trapped in a world of their own fantasy. I learned validation from the people with whom I worked. I learned that they have the wisdom to survive by returning to the past.”

Naomi, Feil, Naomi Feil, Who Promoted Empathy as a Response to Dementia, Dies at 91 (*New York Times, January 24, 2024)

February 6, 2024

More than anything, nursing home care relies on having adequate staff to meet the needs of residents, including help to get dressed, bathe, and eat their meals, as well as complex medical needs. There is no way around the foundational need of having enough qualified staff to deliver high-quality care.

David C. Grabowski, professor in the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School and David G. Stevenson,  professor and the chair of the Department of Health Policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Why the debate over proposed nursing home staff minimums is particularly unproductive, STAT News, February 5, 2024

“It’s not because there wasn’t enough demand” for home care services. “There were thousands of people either waitlisted, or not receiving the services that had been certified as they needed. So, since they weren’t able to hire people, they cut the budget.”

Sen. Patricia Jehlen, Senate Chair, Joint Committee on Elder Affairs, Advocates Aim to Demystify Home Care Rates, Wages, State House News, January 30, 2024

Bear Mountain is not the only one-star nursing home in Massachusetts. Residents deserve better.

Bear Mountain nursing home report alleges neglect, overmedication, *Boston Globe, January 31, 2024

“It gets to the point where the [long-term care] system is basically broken. The state is really going to have to look at putting a lot of resources in to get this system back in shape.”

James Lomastro, PhD, Dignity Alliance Massachusetts Coordinating Committee member, Disturbing conditions at a Worcester nursing home prompt questions of state oversight, *Boston Globe, January 31, 2024

“I am not here to be pitied and I am not a victim. Is that clear?”

Ryan J. Haddad, who has cerebral palsy and is the lead performer in “Dark Disabled Stories”, ‘Dark Disabled Stories’ Review: When the World Isn’t Built for You, *New York Times, March 9, 2023

“I’m a very old lady. I decided that you don’t need to do as much when you’re going to be 99.”

Former child piano prodigy Ruth Slenczynska, announcing her intention to no  longer perform or teach, Rachmaninoff’s last living piano student lives in Pa. She’s 99. *Washington Post, February 3, 2024

 Tyler Parish thinks of himself as “the last dinosaur.”

If he had been born decades earlier with the same genes, he would not have had access to the medical care and technology that allowed him to see his 43rd birthday.

But if he had been born today with access to gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy, he might have been able to walk without assistance. He might have been able to live a life without fear of impending medical catastrophe.

When a Cure Comes Too Late, New York Times, January 31, 2024

Where is the line between pathology and human variability, and who gets to decide which diseases need fixing?

When a Cure Comes Too Late, New York Times, January 31, 2024

 “We know that Covid is continuing to cause thousands of hospitalizations and hundreds of deaths in this country each week [a]nd 50% added protection against Covid-19 is really going to be a meaningful increase in protection, especially for those at highest risk.”

Link-Gelles, the vaccine effectiveness program lead in the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Updated Covid vaccine has 54% effectiveness, new data suggest, STAT News, February 1, 2024

“While RAC [Recovery Audit Contractor] audits practically halted during the COVID-19 pandemic, activity has picked up substantially following the end of the public health emergency.”

Attorney Amy Fouts, The RAC is back, increasing scrutiny in a complex nursing home audit environment (McKnights Long-Term Care News, February 5, 2024)

“Friends encourage us to live healthier lives and are the first to let us know when we need to get help, whether it is from a doctor or therapist. Yet it may be just as important to nurture these relationships as it is to exercise, eat nutritious foods and get a good night’s sleep.”

Irene Levine, a psychologist, ‘Face-to-face, hip-to-hip’ friendships help us live longer – so let’s prioritize them (The Guardian, February 2, 2024)

“Staff have to divide their time between boarding patients and regular patients. You see the ER becoming a parking lot.”

Eugene Litvak, adjunct professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Emergency patients in Boston are waiting longer than ever for care, *Boston Globe, February 5, 2024

 At 4:30 am one day in November, 2023, 60 very ill patients waited in Brigham’s emergency department to be moved to inpatient beds. Another 30 patients were in the waiting room with one triage nurse on duty.

Safety report filed by a nurse with the Massachusetts Nurses Association, Emergency patients in Boston are waiting longer than ever for care, *Boston Globe, February 5, 2024

 “For years, Publicis Health’s marketing schemes helped fuel the nationwide opioid crisis, which has shattered some of our most vulnerable communities, while creating significant financial strain on our state systems. I am proud of my team’s national leadership in securing this settlement, which will not only bolster accountability and transparency for this ongoing crisis but will also provide millions of dollars for much needed treatment and services to support individuals and families across Massachusetts.”

Attorney General Andrea Campbell, AG Campbell Announces $350 Million Settlement With Multinational Marketing Firm Publicis Health Over Role In Opioid Epidemic, Office of the Attorney General, February 1, 2024

January 30, 2024

“Improving transparency, quality, and accountability in assisted living is not only a matter of public interest but a moral imperative. Now more than ever, federal action is needed to ensure that older Americans receive the care and support they deserve while fostering a system that promotes transparency and accountability within the industry.”

Richard Mollot, Keeping the Promise to American Seniors & Families (Long Term Care Community Coalition, January 25, 2024)

[Richard Mollot, executive director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition] argued the absence of a national standard of care and a comparative database like those provided by Medicare will continue to invite investments from “sophisticated private enterprises who can shuffle around resources and take profits with little regard for the promises made to seniors and their families.” 

“We know that when [private equity] comes into a sector, they often pillage it,” he said. 

Assisted living facilities fall short when caring for aging US population, witnesses tell senators, The Hill, January 25, 2024

“Assisted living facilities are governed by a patchwork of state laws without any meaningful federal oversight. This has gone on long enough without oversight, and Congress must look at ways to improve accountability, transparency and quality of care in assisted living facilities.”

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senators ask for federal study of assisted living, seek consumer feedback, ponder oversight, McKnights Senior Living, January 26, 2024

“We have an obligation to ensure that all Americans have access to the quality care they need to age with dignity. Unfortunately, what I heard today makes clear that we have a long way to go when it comes to guaranteeing the level of care that older Americans in assisted living facilities deserve. We must do better by the residents of these facilities and their families and ensure that safe and affordable care are widely available.”

U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Senators ask for federal study of assisted living, seek consumer feedback, ponder oversight, McKnights Senior Living, January 26, 2024 

One should read this investigative journalist’s account of Steward’s behavior. For example, Steward CEO Ralph de la Torre bought himself a $40 million yacht using Steward dividends, a compelling symbol of all that has gone wrong with the leadership of Steward. It is now clear that many parts of state government oversight failed here. We need an honest account of how this happened and how to avoid this from happening again. 

Some thoughts on how to deal with the Steward situation (CommonWealth Beacon, January 23, 2024)

“It’s clear that Steward executives put profits over patients and went to great lengths to hide critical information about its financial status from state officials, jeopardizing quality health care for the people of Massachusetts . . .My primary concern is the thousands of patients who face threats to care and the front-line health care workers whose jobs are at risk,”

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Warren points to for-profit motives for Steward financial failings, *Boston Globe, January 29, 2024

Prioritizing patients. It’s a simple but important mission that seems to have been forgotten by the bean counters and investors who sliced and diced Steward up over the years and brought a linchpin of the region’s health care system to the breaking point.

Could Mass General Brigham be a savior amid the Steward Health Care financial mess? (*Boston Globe, January 29, 2024)

When Congress passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, it reasserted the idea that nonprofit hospitals should provide substantial benefits to communities in exchange for their tax exemptions. That hasn’t happened. . .Yet a lack of oversight has meant that hospitals have rarely faced penalties for noncompliance.

Nonprofit hospitals have an obligation to help their communities, but the people who live nearby may see little benefit, The Conversation, January 29, 2024

 “These housing projects are a great example of why we expanded the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit in our tax cuts bill. From a church transformed into mixed-use mixed-income housing in Boston to the re-use of a vacant nursing home as affordable rental housing in Northampton, these funds will make it possible for thousands of Massachusetts residents to afford a home.”

Governor Maura Healey, Healey-Driscoll Administration Announces New Affordable Housing Development Across the State (Office of Governor Maura Healey / Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll, January 22, 2024)

 “I suspect [the city of Waltham] doesn’t want to do much of anything with the [former Fernald School]  property. It’s time to consider sale to a nonprofit or private developer, contingent on protection of historic buildings and the cemetery that remains there. We desperately need market rate and affordable dwellings in greater Boston. A smart plan would preserve the beauty of the site and still provide housing for human beings.”

State Senator Michael Barrett, Fernald School: Waltham is letting a historic property fall apart, *Boston Globe, January 29, 2024

The direct care workforce is tremendously diverse and in high demand, but challenges that include low pay, minimal training, and reduced job quality must be addressed if we are to strengthen the workforce to accommodate the needs of a growing population of older adults  with disability.

Opportunities for Strengthening the Workforce (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Winter 2024)

“The facility failed to take measures to ensure security of the residents and staff during the evacuation. The failures jeopardized the health and safety for all residents and staff.”

From the Deficiency Report issued by the Missouri Department of Public Health regarding Northview Village, Report rips massive nursing home for lacking safety procedures during abrupt shutdown, McKnights Long-Term Care News, January 26, 2024

 In FY 2025, [enrollment] unwinding will be less of a factor driving changes in Medicaid enrollment and spending; however, state revenue declines may dampen enthusiasm for ongoing investments in Medicaid and could prompt spending reductions.

Medicaid and State Financing: What to Watch in Upcoming State Budget Debates, KFF, January 22, 2024

HUD recently released new data finding that over 650,000 people were experiencing homelessness on a single night in January 2023, with people of color overrepresented. This is an unprecedented level of homelessness — never before seen in HUD’s annual Point-in-Time count — and it reflects a 12 percent increase over 2022.

Added Funding Needed to Prevent Harmful Cuts to Housing Vouchers and Other Rental Assistance Programs in 2024, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, January 23, 2024

 [New York Governor Kathy] Hochul says long-term care for elderly and disabled New Yorkers is contributing to outsized growth in Medicaid spending that’s set to exceed statutory limits, in part because of the aging population. Medicaid, the joint state and federal program, pays for health care for some 7.6 million low-income New Yorkers.

Gov. Hochul aims to cut pay for home caregivers in program used by 200,000 NYers, Gothamist, January 26, 2024

“Why would you come into my house, clean my house, clean my person and deal with my bowel and bladder care for less than what they’re paying you now?”

Jose Hernandez, a resident of the Bronx, NY who is a quadriplegic and relies on four caregivers through New York’s Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program, Gov. Hochul aims to cut pay for home caregivers in program used by 200,000 NYers, Gothamist, January 26, 2024

 If you’ve been hesitating about getting your updated Covid vaccination, you might want to put your heebie-jeebies front and center on the exam table at your next medical visit. They’re due for a checkup.

My Patients Used to Be Enthusiastic About the Covid Vaccine. What Changed?, New York Times (free access), January 27, 2024

“Something of that magnitude can change the character of the town. If the developer decided to put 108 units of low-income housing, that’s going to be a major strain onto the town.”

Rob Roy, expressing concerns regarding the redevelopment of the former Belchertown State Hospital property, Residents seek answers to big housing development at old Belchertown State Hospital (Daily Hampshire Gazette, January 26, 2024)

 “That doesn’t mean that the government can’t do great things. It can. It just means that when you’re thinking about the impact of government activities and new spending, you have to deal with those [factors]. You have to say: we can’t create tens of thousands of new jobs because we have about as many jobs as we can have.”

Evan Horowitz, executive director at the Center for State Policy Analysis at Tufts University, Analysis of Healey housing bill called ‘half-baked’, CommonWealth Beacon, January 26, 2024

January 25, 2024

Private equity acquisition was associated with increased hospital-acquired adverse events, including falls and central line–associated bloodstream infections.

Changes in Hospital Adverse Events and Patient Outcomes Associated With Private Equity Acquisition, JAMA Network, December 26, 2023

“I think that’s one of the most powerful arguments that the industry has used to scare policymakers and senators and other decision-makers, and it’s really disconnected if you think about it. When you actually look at the data, and you look at the homes closing, it’s really because they’re just bad homes providing bad care, and they can’t fill their beds so they’re just closing down.”

Sam Brooks, director of public policy, National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, Data shows nursing home closure often linked to care issues, Roll Call, January 18, 2024

“If we don’t know where the dollars went and there’s no accountability, it is really hard for us to say the reason for . . . closures is that they didn’t get enough reimbursement or money here.”

Andrea Earl, associate state director of advocacy and outreach for AARP Texas, Data shows nursing home closure often linked to care issues, Roll Call, January 18, 2024

“There’s a corresponding interest that we have in preservation and growth of Medicare. Medicare has changed lives all for the better. I was actually able to do something that was unheard of, I successfully amended an entitlement program and the amendment went like this; If you’re 65 or older and you have an opiate addiction, you now qualify for Medicare.”

Congressman Richard Neal, Congressman Richard Neal honored by Dignity Alliance of Massachusetts, 22WWLP.COM, January 22, 2024

“The evidence from Florida indicates that minimum staffing requirements do make a difference in staffing levels, as prior AARP reports have shown.”

AARP Report, ‘Concerning’ Link Found Between Reduced Nursing Home Staffing Hours and Hospitalizations, Skilled Nursing News, January 17, 2024

“Having a cognitive or intellectual disability shouldn’t stop people from having a voice when it matters most. One day you, a member of your family or a close friend may need decision-making support. When that happens, you’ll be glad that [supportive decision  making] is an option.”

Jonathan Gardner, co-chair of the Massachusetts Supported Decision-Making Coalition, I’m an adult with autism. I built a team to help me make decisions (WBUR Cognoscenti, January 18, 2024)

“Transparency is really a democracy issue. If you can’t see how your lawmakers are voting or who is influencing them, never mind if you don’t have enough notice to testify at a hearing, how are you supposed to meaningfully participate in the lawmaking process? The Sunlight Act would go a long way toward opening up our state government to the voices of everyday people. Today is a great day for our movement.”

Act on Mass Executive Director Erin Leahy, Sunlight Act On Move, Targeting Legislature And Governor (State House News, January 24, 2024)

“Your aging anxiety used to take place in the privacy of your own home or maybe with a very close friend or family member. Now it happens on TikTok, with an audience.”

Renee Engeln, psychology professor at Northwestern University and the director of the Body and Media Lab, Why Does Gen Z Believe It’s ‘Aging Like Milk’? (New York Times (free access), January 23, 2024)

You see, when firms like Cerberus do business, it’s often “heads I win, tails you lose.”

The hound from hell, *Boston Globe, January 22, 2024

“Affordability continues to be a major challenge for Massachusetts residents and their loved ones seeking long-term care, and my office will continue to hold accountable those who seek to take advantage in an already fragile and high-cost system.”

Attorney General Andrea Campbell, AG Campbell Announces Settlements With Three Temporary Nurse Staffing Agencies For Overcharging Long-Term Care Facilities, Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General, January 19, 2024

January 18, 2024

“Whenever you make something easier for one community, you’re making it easier for everyone. If you invest in us, we will invest back. But also, if you invest in us, you really invest in everyone. You can only win by making your product more accessible.”

Xian Horn, a disability advocate and beauty consultant, How Cosmetic Brands Are Creating More Accessible Makeup, Brain and Life, December 2023 / January 2024

“Rising housing costs are impacting people across Massachusetts, especially our older residents,” said. “By reserving these new homes for those age 55 and older and making the majority of them affordable, we’re sending a message that we value our long-time Massachusetts residents and want them to stay in the state they helped make a great place to live.” 

Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll, Healey-Driscoll Administration Announces Conversion of Former State Hospital into a 141-Unit Housing Development, Office of Governor Maura Healey and Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll, December 14, 2023

“Walnut Street is an example of the enormous potential for utilizing state-owned land to build more housing for Massachusetts residents, but it is also an example of where we can do better. The process for disposing of surplus state land for important uses like housing has, in the past, taken too long. The Affordable Homes Act proposed by the Healey-Driscoll Administration would create paths to streamline the disposition of properties like this.”  

Ed Augustus, Secretary of Housing and Livable Communities, , Healey-Driscoll Administration Announces Conversion of Former State Hospital into a 141-Unit Housing Development, Office of Governor Maura Healey and Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll, December 14, 2023

In addition to these important issues affecting wheelchair users, which lawmakers should resolve, the problem points to a larger issue affecting many aspects of health care: the growing involvement of private equity.

The Editorial Board, Scrutinize private equity’s involvement in health care, *Boston Globe, January 17, 2024

One of the blessings of age is that most of us get along with ourselves better than when we were young.

Age makes the miracles easier to see ,*Washington Post, January 17, 2024

“‘Anti-aging’ are toxic, horrible words that are fed to us from a young age to make us think that aging is awful and aging is a privilege. It’s where your power is, it’s where your strength lies.”

Brands find a new way to reach many consumers: Older women, *Washington Post, January 16, 2024

Private equity-linked insurers “are shifting assets from staid, more traditional investments to riskier, more opaque, more complex and more illiquid ones. That combination raises concerns”.

Patrick Woodall, a senior fellow at Americans for Financial Reform, Private Equity’s Move Into Insurance Provokes Systemic-Risk Concerns, *Wall Street Journal Pro, January 4, 2024

“What has been less understood is how much of this new capital that private equity is getting is coming from the acquisition of insurance companies, and then in turn, insurance companies buying up a lot of the assets that private equity tends to originate. It’s almost like you have this circular financing scheme that has been created now with private equity and insurance.”

Andrew Park, senior policy analyst for Americans for Financial Reform, Private equity stake in life insurers draws new round of critical reports, (Insurance Newsnet, January 9, 2024

“The group of patients who were using hearing aids regularly had a 24% lower risk of mortality compared to the group who never use hearing aids.” Meaning, the participants who were in the habit of wearing hearing aids were significantly less likely to die early.

Dr. Janet Choi, an otolaryngologist with Keck Medicine, University of Southern California, Hearing aids may boost longevity, study finds. But only if used regularly, All Things Considered – Shots, January 4, 2024

Framed another way, it’s as if the United States entered middle age in 2023. For better or worse, we may be experiencing some of the angst that accompanies such a transition.

5 U.S. Facts and Trends in 2023 That You Should Know, Population Reference Bureau, January 4, 2024

January 9, 2024

Gov. Maura Healey and her budget team hit the reset button Monday, announcing a plan to cut $375 million from the current year’s budget amid flagging tax collections, to downgrade the amount of tax revenue expected this budget year by $1 billion, and to build the next state spending plan on the assumption that even less tax revenue will come in next year.

Healey Resets Budget Outlook with Spending Cuts, Downgraded Forecast, *State House News Bureau, January 8, 2024

“The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dreams shall never die.”

Senator Ted Kennedy, FY 2023 Annual Report, Massachusetts Permanent Commission on the Status of Persons with Disabilities, October 18, 2023

“While many of [Rhode Island’s] non-profit homes have exceeded safe staffing requirements, the majority of for-profit nursing homes continue to rack up massive profits while crying wolf about safe staffing fines. Instead of giving nursing home owners free rein, it is critical that all stakeholders work together to hold nursing homes accountable to providing safe, dignified care.”

Jesse Martin, Executive Vice President of SEIU 1199NE and member of Raise the Bar on Resident Care Coalition, Union Blasts McKee for Suspending Penalties and Siding With For-Profit Nursing Homes, GoLocalProv News, January 1, 2024

Without Improvements in wages and living conditions, we will always be faced with the scourge of epidemics and pandemics. We will repeat the mistakes of the past and create panic and chaos as we face the unknown.

Dr. Joe Amaral, former President of RI Hospital, the Founder of Tipping Point Healthcare Innovation, and the Chief Medical/Science Advisor at Venture Investors, Nursing Homes: A Western World Tragedy – Dr. Joe Amaral, GoLocalProv News, May 29, 2020

Over the last decade, private equity firms have spent nearly $1 trillion on close to 8,000 health care deals, snapping up practices that provide care from cradle to grave: fertility clinics, neonatal care, primary care, cardiology, hospices, and everything in between.

Private equity is buying up health care, but the real problem is why doctors are selling, The Hill, December 31, 2023

Workers ages 75 and older are the fastest-growing age group in the workforce, more than quadrupling in size since 1964, according to a recent study from the Pew Research Center. The trend will continue: Workforce participation among people 75 and older will reach 11.7% by 2030 from 8.9% in 2020, according to projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

How to Work—and Love It—Into Your 80s and Beyond, *Wall Street Journal, December 29, 2023

Like others who have remained engaged in their careers in their later years, [Gladys McGarey] says the secret is to find things that make life important and our “hearts sing.”
“I think that is our key,” she says.

How to Work—and Love It—Into Your 80s and Beyond, *Wall Street Journal, December 29, 2023

“Think as if your car broke down and you couldn’t rent a car. Well, you can’t get out of bed. And then if you can’t get out of bed, not only is it emotionally despairing, but physically people get skin breakdown, then they have to go to the hospital where they’ll spend weeks, months, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Chris Hoeh, a DignityMA participant and who serves as the Vice Chair on the Personal Care Attendant Workforce Council, commenting on why the wheelchair repair bill is needed, Senate Approves New Protections For Wheelchair Users; State House News Service; January 5, 2024

Joe [Tringali’s] staunch, strategic, gentle yet unwavering advocacy was dedicated to health care and personal care advances, housing accessibility, an end to the state’s draconian estate recovery law, and more.
Our team worked very, very closely with him on both spouses as caregivers and estate recovery, bills that we’re going to fight like hell to pass this year, in Joe’s honor. . .
Joe’s work was felt statewide and also here at home where his advocacy in the Connecticut River Valley led to the development of a program to help fund suitable ramps in homes to allow people to remain in their communities.

State Senator Jo Comerford, Facebook post

Joe (Tringali] was with me through the years. Sometimes in person, like serving on my Disability Rights Advisory Council or at events in Western MA; sometimes by email (especially when there was an important policy position or issue he wanted me to know about).
I will remember Joe’s fantastic wit, his relentless energy (even if he was pushing through a hard time), and especially, all that he taught me about what we need to do so that people can live independently.

Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey, Facebook post

“I do not want to die like that. This is about me taking control of my life. I want you to write about this after I’m gone, because not enough people know about this option, even when it’s available.”

Julie Petrow-Cohen speaking to her brother, Steven Petrow, I Promised My Sister I Would Write About How She Chose to Die(New York Times (free access), December 28, 2023

For most middle-income people approaching retirement, the primary source of wealth isn’t home equity or retirement savings. It’s Social Security benefits.

Teresa Ghilarducci, an economist at the New School for Social Research, The Income Gap Jeopardizing Retirement for Millions, New York Times (free access), January 6, 2024

If you had to pick one healthy practice for longevity, “do some version of physical activity. If you can’t do that, then focus on being positive.”

Dr. Alison Moore, professor of medicine and the chief of geriatrics, gerontology and palliative care at the University of California, San Diego, Ignore the hyperbaric chambers and infrared light: These are the evidence-backed secrets to aging well., New York Times (free access), January 4, 2024

Retirees don’t miss working, they miss the people.

An 85-year Harvard study on happiness found the No. 1 retirement challenge that ‘no one talks about’, CNBC, March 10, 2023

January 2, 2024

“Too many seniors and families accept substandard care and inhumane conditions because their nursing home tells them that they cannot afford to hire more staff. This study [United States’ Nursing Home Finances: Spending, Profitability, and Capital Structure] provides important evidence showing that nursing homes get plenty of money, they are just not being held accountable for using it appropriately.”

Richard Mollot, executive director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition and a co-author of the study, United States’ Nursing Home Finances: Spending, Profitability, and Capital Structure, Sage Journals, December 19, 2023

Health care is “the only business that doesn’t reward for quality care. All we reward for is volume. Do more, and you’re going to get more money.”

Dr. Michael Imburgia, a Louisville cardiologist, America’s epidemic of chronic illness is killing us too soon, Washington Post (free access), October 3, 2023

In 1900, life expectancy at birth in the United States was 47 years. . .Then came a century that saw life expectancy soar beyond the biblical standard of “threescore years and ten”. . . The rise of life expectancy became the ultimate proof of societal progress in 20th century America. Decade by decade, the number kept climbing, and by 2010, the country appeared to be marching inexorably toward the milestone of 80. It never got there.

America’s epidemic of chronic illness is killing us too soon, Washington Post (free access), October 3, 2023

Immunizing people to reduce the spread of disease is perhaps one of the easiest and most beneficial of these measures. Polio, measles, diphtheria, smallpox, and yes, COVID. These are some of the immunizations that not only benefit individuals, but also benefit society.
Many of the COVID hospitalizations and deaths are avoidable through immunization. All of society pays a cost for these avoidable hospitalizations. Healthcare workers are needlessly put at risk. Insurance and Medicare expenses are unnecessarily high. The human toll on families and friends is high, and often avoidable. . .
This is a social contract issue. People’s ignorance and superstition should not trump the public good.

Theodore S. Widlanski, What government can do about dismal nursing home vaccination rates (Washington Post (free access), December 27, 2023)

When I get together with old friends, our first ritual is an “organ recital” — how’s your back? knee? heart? hip? shoulder? eyesight? hearing? prostate? hemorrhoids? digestion? The recital can run — and ruin — an entire lunch.

Robert Reich, A holiday question: How old is too old?, Substack, December 25, 2023

“Just try, dear. So many people are old at 60. They just want to sit all day. You won’t make it to 90 like that. You have to try.”. . . “Age is just another bother attempting to convince you of the impossible in a world absolutely blooming with possibilities.”

New York Times writer Richard Morgan’s 93-year-old grandmother, At 93, Teaching Me About Possibility, New York Times (free access), December 22, 2023

Hospitals and health insurers once made money in order to provide health care. Now, hospitals and health insurers provide health care in order to make money.

Robert Reich, How private equity is destroying the labors of love, Substack, August 11, 2023

“I’m trying to keep my patients alive. What does it mean for the role of the physician, as healer, as bringer of hope, to be offering death? And what does it mean in practice?”

Dr. John Maher, a psychiatrist in Barrie, Ontario, Death by Doctor May Soon Be Available for the Mentally Ill in Canada, *New York Times, December 27, 2023

The concept of vulnerability is intricately tied to health justice. Vulnerability is heightened when social and structural determinants of health interact to create power imbalances that inhibit people’s ability to exert agency over their own health, protect themselves, and influence decision makers.

The Health Justice Policy Tracker: COVID-19 Policies to Advance Health Justice for Vulnerable Populations, Health Affairs, December 2023