For previous years, visit:
March 27, 2023
“This proposal [to establish an Executive Office of Housing] to me is supreme. I’m excited to work with you [Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll] and to work with the new secretary.”
Rep. Antonio Cabral, Joint Committee on Housing, Lawmakers Warm to Housing Secretariat Plan, *State House News, March 27, 2023
Releasing older adult prisoners poses a very low danger to communities overall, and in cases of prisoners with debilitating health problems, many are unable to commit new crimes.
Broken and Underutilized: Understanding Compassionate Release Programs for Older Adult Prisoners, Bifocal – American Bar Association, January 19, 2023
“People with disabilities could lose access to home health care and, with it, the ability to stay in their homes — which, by the way, shows it extends life of the people. People would much rather stay, if they could, just with a little bit of help in their own homes rather than go to a home. And it’s less expensive. Medicaid also pays for nursing home care for about two thirds of all Americans who live in nursing homes. Well, it’d be different if they were able to stay home.”
President Joe Biden, Home Health Care ‘Extends Lives’ and Is ‘Less Expensive’, Home Health Care News, March 24, 2023
Nursing homes that conducted staff surveillance testing more regularly experienced significantly lower rates of COVID infections and deaths among residents, according to a new study [published in the New England Journal of Medicine.]
More staff COVID testing saved nursing home resident lives, Futurity, March 24, 2023
“Please, Sir, I want some more!”
If Dickens were alive today, and living in Massachusetts, he might easily have chronicled the plight of nursing home residents, and their equally bare bones Personal Needs Allowance!
Richard T. Moore, Dignity Alliance Massachusetts’ Legislative Workgroup Chair, “Please, Sir, I want some more!”, GSA [Gerontological Society on Aging] Connect Open Forum, March 25, 2023, [Accessible online only to GSA members.]
Boston is one of the nation’s most expensive cities. More than seven in 10 older people living alone here — and 45 percent of older couples — lack the minimum income required to cover necessary expenses, according to February data from the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Gerontology Institute. For them, life is a daily struggle to maintain dignity and make ends meet.
‘I have to take my time.’ Growing old in Boston without much money is an everyday stress test. *Boston Globe, March 25, 2023
March 20, 2023
“It’s this really enormous financial bomb sitting out there that most people are just hoping won’t hit them. There’s an incredible amount of confusion and denial.”
Marc A. Cohen, co-director of the LeadingAge LTSS Center at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, Senior care is crushingly expensive. Boomers aren’t ready, Washington Post (free access), March 20, 2023 (updated)
“[The cost of long-term care] has to be addressed because ultimately it will be a societal crisis.These are the schoolteachers and the firefighters, the working people who take care of all of us, who cannot afford the [senior housing] that is being built out there right now.”
Beth Mace, chief economist for the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC), Senior care is crushingly expensive. Boomers aren’t ready, Washington Post (free access), March 20, 2023 (updated)
“Even before the pandemic, the long-term care system in this country was broken. It’s too expensive for most people, yet it needs further investment to ensure front-line caregivers receive a competitive wage and facilities continue to modernize. . . You’re combining housing and health care, and most Americans haven’t thought about or can’t afford to plan for this expense,”
LaShuan Bethea, executive director, the National Center for Assisted Living, Senior care is crushingly expensive. Boomers aren’t ready, Washington Post (free access), March 20, 2023 (updated)
[Beth Roper] is baffled there is no safety net for families in her situation. The Ropers saved for college, they paid off their house, they tithed at church, and they paid thousands of dollars in taxes for more than 70 years of combined work.
“We did everything our country asked us to do.”
Beth Roper, whose husband, Doug Roper, was a history teacher and wrestling coach and began showing signs of forgetfulness that seemed to accelerate in 2018, the same year he retired, Senior care is crushingly expensive. Boomers aren’t ready, Washington Post (free access), March 20, 2023 (updated)
“We should all seek age and disability justice. Given a vast retirement savings crisis and increasing ill health, Gen X and Gen Z may also need a bed someday.”
By Margaret Morganroth Gullette, Everyone in a nursing home deserves a single room, *Boston Globe, March 15, 2023 (updated)
“How many years do I have left? I want to live those as well as I can. But to some degree, you lose your dignity.”
Alex Morisey, a 82-year-old man who lives in a Philadelphia nursing home, In nursing homes, impoverished live final days on pennies, AP News, March 15, 2023
In a long-term care system that subjects some of society’s frailest to daily indignities, Medicaid’s personal needs allowance, as the stipend is called, is among the most ubiquitous, yet least known.
In nursing homes, impoverished live final days on pennies, AP News, March 15, 2023
“I was shocked. It’s about dignity for these people.”
Virginia State Rep. Jennifer Wexton, who in 2019 introduced a bill to raise the minimum allowance to $60 and cement annual increases tied to those for Social Security but didn’t even get a hearing, In nursing homes, impoverished live final days on pennies, AP News, March 15, 2023
Nursing home residents often must cede control of everything from how often they get a shower to what they eat. With no financial wiggle room, even more autonomy evaporates, putting out of reach the chance to take a taxi to see a friend, to get lost in a newly purchased book, or to escape the monotony of the cafeteria with some take-out food.
In nursing homes, impoverished live final days on pennies, AP News, March 15, 2023
“We take patients who are going to die of their diseases within a three-month period of time, and we force them into a denial [issued by a Medicare Advantage insurer] and appeals process that lasts up to 2.5 years. So, what happens is the appeal outlasts the beneficiary.”
Chris Comfort, chief operating officer of Calvary Hospital, a palliative and hospice facility, Denied by AI: How Medicare Advantage plans use algorithms to cut off care for seniors in need, STAT News, March 13, 2023
“They are looking at our patients in terms of their statistics. They’re not looking at the patients that we see.”
Medical director of a post-acute care facility, Denied by AI: How Medicare Advantage plans use algorithms to cut off care for seniors in need, STAT News, March 13, 2023
“There’s no doubt we have a full on housing crisis in Massachusetts. There’s not enough housing to meet the current demands at all levels — not market rate, not affordable, certainly not truly affordable for our most vulnerable populations. And we really are trying to partner with communities and make sure they have the tools they need. We’re focused on production.”
Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll, On Big Issues, Driscoll Taking “We’ll See” Approach, *State House News, March 13, 2023
“I still struggle to make out every word. It’s kind of like a foreign language you speak very well but not completely, so you’re always a little behind. . . I wish I had gotten [hearing aids] sooner because I missed a lot.”
Mary Louise Kelly, co-host of NPR’s daily newsmagazine “All Things Considered,”, NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly talks about living with hearing loss, *Washington Post, March 19, 2023
“It’s better for me to be under shelling than to be there. It was living hell.”
Viktor Krivoruchko, 54, who had a stroke and had been placed in an Ukrainian nursing home, War forces thousands of disabled Ukrainians into institutions, *Washington Post, March 19, 2023
“Despite the huge challenges we are facing, especially for people with disabilities, we are not stopping our effort to move people out of institutions.”
Oksana Zholnovych, Ukraine’s minister of social policy, War forces thousands of disabled Ukrainians into institutions, *Washington Post, March 19, 2023
“The rule creates a framework that will result in a shared understanding of quality community living.”
Alison Barkoff, Acting Administrator of the Administration for Community Living, Joint Statement from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Administration for Community Living (ACL): Implementation of the Home and Community-Based Services Settings Regulation, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Administration for Community Living (ACL), March 17, 2023
“You have to remind yourself that you know who you are and you are the person who can reaffirm and comfort the person who had reaffirmed and comforted you for so long.”
Anne Basting, MacArthur Fellowship recipient based on her 30 years of working with persons with dementia, This Conversation Changed the Way I Think About Dementia, First Person / New Times Podcast, March 16, 2023
“The bill’s workforce funding is necessary to ensure there are enough health professionals, including licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and certified nursing assistants (CNAs), to meet the needs of vulnerable residents under state care while we transition beyond the COVID-19 public health emergency.”
Release from Governor Healey’s office, Healey Adds $734 Million To Expanding Spending Agenda, *State House News, March 17, 2023
“We know it’ll be a transition for people to go from not paying any premiums for their health coverage to potentially have to paying some premium. So, we don’t want people to assume they can’t afford it. We want people to come check out their options.”
Health Connector Executive Director Audrey Morse Gasteier, Blue Envelopes Signal Start of Big Health Insurance Project, *State Health News, March 9, 2023
“CMS should adopt strong nursing staff-to-resident ratios to ensure workers are not overburdened and unable to meet their patients’ needs, it is clear that chronic understaffing contributes to high rates of stress, injury, and burnout among nursing assistants, and ultimately to high rates of turnover. Thus, we believe that creating a robust staffing standard will also go a long way towards improving the quality of nursing home jobs, which in turn will actually help attract more workers and resolve current workforce shortages in this industry.”
Letter by U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and signed by 113 representatives, ‘Imperative’ to finalize staffing rule this year, dozens of House members tell CMS, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, March 20, 2023
The average weekly pay for a travel nurse in January was $3,077 – 67% higher than the rate in January 2020, according to a report by Vivian Health posted to Becker’s Hospital Review. The average weekly pay jumped 99.5% from January 2020 ($1,896 per week) to December 2021 ($3,782 per week). But the wages reached a “new floor” in July 2022 when they hit $2,997 per week. . . Even more drastic, Brendan Williams, president and CEO of the New Hampshire Health Care Association, told McKnight’s in December 2021 that while nursing homes were offering $17 per hour, plus shift differentials for nursing assistants, staffing agencies were paying as high as $69 per hour, plus charging facilities agency fees on top of that.
Many states now looking at price-gouging legislation to combat soaring staffing agency nursing costs, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, March 20, 2023
March 13, 2023
“This is outrageous. [The Northeast Health Group facilities in western Massachusetts] should be able to continue operating [under state control] while there is a more deliberate, more careful, more rational, more caring way to empty the buildings.”
Paul Lanzikos, Coordinator, Dignity Alliance Massachusetts, ‘This is outrageous’: Advocates urge state to take control of four nursing homes slated to close, *Boston Globe, March 9, 2023 (updated)
“Transitioning residents with complex medical and emotional needs is a delicate process, and transfer trauma is a major concern with residents who have been haphazardly placed. “Some residents may not survive this transition, or may suffer physically, emotionally, and socially.”
Stavros Center in its complaint to the Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health, ‘This is outrageous’: Advocates urge state to take control of four nursing homes slated to close, *Boston Globe, March 9, 2023 (updated)
“They told us if we didn’t find a place for a loved one, they would relocate them, and it could be on the Cape, it could be Pittsfield, wherever there was a bed. . . A lot of staff jumped ship right away. They kept trying to bring in staff from agencies, but a lot of times they were short staffed and if a loved one wasn’t there to watch out, forget it. . . I would like to see things revamped and people being treated more like human beings.”
Judy, whose 86-year-old father moved out of Willimansett West in Chicopee, ‘This is outrageous’: Advocates urge state to take control of four nursing homes slated to close, *Boston Globe, March 9, 2023 (updated)
“The company [Northeast Health Group] has been very silent with us, very silent with the state. They won’t let us do our jobs.”
Crystal Bouchie, business representative for United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1459 in Springfield commenting on the closure of four nursing homes in western Massachusetts, Union says company shuttering Hampden County nursing homes is ghosting employees, Mass.com, March 10, 2023
Guardianships have a bad reputation. Guardians are far too easy to appoint, often have more power than they need, and may become too greedy, failing to protect the people they are guarding. The problem is lack of oversight.
Modern Laws and Out-of-Court Solutions Can Advance Guardianship, Bloomberg Law, March 9, 2023
It’s said that when the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. Plenary guardianship has long been seen as the law’s hammer to deal with the “problem” of the alleged incapacity of people with disabilities and older persons. Even when guardianship functions well—and stories of financial, emotional, and other forms of abuse show it often doesn’t—it can deny the right of adults with disabilities to make their own decisions, with or without support.
Courts Must Revamp Approach to Guardianship, a Potent Legal Tool, Bloomberg Law, March 9, 2023
Supported decision-making, which originated in British Columbia, has achieved increasing recognition in US legislation and court decisions. It is a far more appropriate tool for the toolbox than guardianship.
Courts Must Revamp Approach to Guardianship, a Potent Legal Tool, Bloomberg Law, March 9, 2023
“The [guardianship] system is a profit center. It is not benevolent. It is not altruistic.”
Rick Black, a former corporate executive who has become a full-time guardian reformer, Guardians’ Dark Side: Lax Rules Open the Vulnerable to Abuse, Bloomberg Law, March 6, 2023
“I guess I was an idealist. I thought the judge was going to listen to me and weigh the evidence and be fair.”
Lorraine Mendiola, Guardians’ Dark Side: Lax Rules Open the Vulnerable to Abuse, Bloomberg Law, March 6, 2023
“People are rendered to a state of non-personhood, in the name of protection.”
Morgan Whitlatch, Center for Public Representation, Guardians’ Dark Side: Lax Rules Open the Vulnerable to Abuse, Bloomberg Law, March 6, 2023
“We want to do everything we can to make it easy for patients and their families. It’s so, so important and making people travel huge distances doesn’t get you there. We have got to make sure that’s resolved in the right way.”
Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey responding to the closure of four western Massachusetts nursing homes, Governor Healey weighs in on proposed western Massachusetts nursing home closures, WWLP-TV 22News, March 10, 2023
Lawyers and advocates estimate there are at least 3,000 such “unbefriended” people — most are older adults, though some are younger with brain injuries, intellectual disabilities, or mental health problems in need of a guardian.
Who will be guardians for legions of ‘unbefriended’ elders? A new initiative tries to address an urgent and growing problem in Mass. *Boston Globe, February 27, 2023
The unpaid care provided by the 780,000 caregivers in Massachusetts is valued at $15.1 Billion.
Family Caregivers in Massachusetts Provide $15.1 Billion in Unpaid Care to Loved Ones, AARP, March 8, 2023
“Independently living, with dignity and respect, supported by jobs that pay a living wage, is the only future I’m going to accept.”
State Senator Lydia Edwards, ‘Fighting for my life’: Disability advocates call for higher wage for PCAs, WGBH, March 2, 2023
“PCAs are literally my lifeline. The work that my PCA does is not easy. It’s close, personal, intimate care.”
Dan Harris, who works in the community living advocacy program at the Boston Center for Independent Living, Personal-care attendants fight for higher wages, *Boston Business Journal, March 7, 2023
March 6, 2023
“Disability only becomes a tragedy when society fails to provide the things we need to lead our lives — job opportunities or barrier-free buildings, for example. It is not a tragedy to me that I’m living in a wheelchair.”
Judy Heumann, Activist Judy Heumann led a reimagining of what it means to be disabled, NPR All Things Considered, March 4, 2023
“Judy Heumann was a trailblazer – a rolling warrior – for disability rights in America. After her school principal said she couldn’t enter Kindergarten because she was using a wheelchair, Judy dedicated the rest of her life to fighting for the inherent dignity of people with disabilities.”
President Joe Biden, Biden remembers disability rights activist Judith Heumann as ‘rolling warrior’, The Hill, March 5, 2023
“Today’s authorization of the first OTC test that can detect Influenza A and B, along with SARS-CoV-2, is a major milestone in bringing greater consumer access to diagnostic tests that can be performed entirely at home.”
Jeff Shuren, M.D., J.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, FDA Authorizes First Over-the-Counter At-Home Test to Detect Both Influenza and COVID-19 Viruses, U. S. Food and Drug Administration, February 24, 2023
Fueled, in part, by the devastating COVID-19 death toll in nursing homes, leaders in some states are not waiting for federal action to ensure public dollars do not pay for poor care. New York, for instance, set requirements for how Medicaid payments could be spent. When more than 200 nursing homes sued the state to block the new law, they revealed budget details usually hidden from the public and regulators. One fact stood out: The homes spent most of their government Medicaid funding on expenses other than face-to-face care of residents. In total, the group would have had to return $511 million to the state in 2019 had a key requirement of the new law been in effect: that 70% of Medicaid be spent on direct care.
Biden wants more nursing home staff; owners say they need more funding, USA Today, March 3, 2023
“This way of paying and supporting nursing home care in this country is completely broken. From an industry perspective, this is a flawed model: overpaying with one public payer and underpaying with the other and hoping for the best.”
David Grabowski, a Harvard University researcher and member of the congressional Medicare payment commission, Biden wants more nursing home staff; owners say they need more funding, USA Today, March 3, 2023
“Nursing homes should protect the health and well-being of every resident. . . This case demonstrates that we will hold responsible people accountable when they pocket federal funds while providing substandard care.”
Carla Freedman, United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York, Attorney General James Secures Over $7.1 Million from Former Saratoga County Nursing Home for Years of Fraud and Neglect, Office of the New York Attorney General, February 27, 2023
“I don’t think we should be thinking of 90-plus or even 100 as extreme aging anymore. We should be helping people prepare for this longevity.”
Michael “Mick” Smyer, a clinical psychologist and national expert on aging. When it comes to aging, 90-plus or even 100 might not be ‘extreme’ anymore,*Boston Globe, February 19, 2023
“More than 90 percent of centenarians are functionally independent in their early nineties. … Semi-super-centenarians (ages 105-109 years) and [especially] supercentenarians (age 110+), usually delay such age-related diseases towards the ends of their lives”; and “a substantial proportion of centenarians live with age-related diseases usually associated with significant mortality, for more than 20 years.”
Dr. Thomas Perls, an international expert on longevity with Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine, When it comes to aging, 90-plus or even 100 might not be ‘extreme’ anymore,*Boston Globe, February 19, 2023
“A group of 7-year-olds are more alike than a group of 77-year-olds. With increasing age comes increasing individual differences.”
When it comes to aging, 90-plus or even 100 might not be ‘extreme’ anymore,*Boston Globe, February 19, 2023
Aaliyah sang (and then, sadly, demonstrated when she died at 22), “Age ain’t nothing but a number.”
Aaliyah, a singer who died at age 22, When it comes to aging, 90-plus or even 100 might not be ‘extreme’ anymore,*Boston Globe, February 19, 2023
“The fact that Norman Lear just turned 100 is the least of his accomplishments. Lots of people do it. You turn on the Today show and you see a bunch of folks celebrating their centennial. . . . Congratulations on your first hundred, my friend.”
George Clooney, When it comes to aging, 90-plus or even 100 might not be ‘extreme’ anymore, *Boston Globe, February 19, 2023
“The Governor’s proposal is a strong, welcome initiative which we hope turns the tide in our present crisis.”
Maura Sullivan, Senior Director, The Arc of Massachusetts, Disability Advocates Hope Healey Budget “Turns the Tide” On Staffing Crisis, *State House News, March 2, 2023
“PTSD Coach is an exceptionally valuable tool that allows you to tell your own story to yourself. You have to go through the bad stuff to get to the story. And even if you only tell your story to yourself, that’s a lot better than not telling it at all.”
Veteran Army Captain John Kirby IV, Veteran uses PTSD Coach app to cope, Veterans’ Health Care, March 2, 2023
“A Disability Justice framework understands that all bodies are unique and essential, that all bodies have strengths and needs that must be met. We know that we are powerful not despite the complexities of our bodies, but because of them.”
Patty Berne, disability rights advocates, Disability Justice—in the Workplace (and Beyond), Non-Profit News | Nonprofit Quarterly, February 28, 2023
“Disability justice really comes about because traditional disability rights movements did not center or didn’t center as well the experiences and perspectives of queer, trans, Black, Indigenous, people of color, immigrants, and women. And that’s important, and the list is long for a reason, because it is a call-in to members of the community that had not been in the leadership roles and the decision making in the public leadership as much. It’s critical to have that leadership and opportunity component center folks that have been historically excluded. People with disabilities deserve respect, dignity, and genuine inclusion.”
Adela Ruiz, program and grants lead at the NBA Foundation, Disability Justice—in the Workplace (and Beyond), Non-Profit News | Nonprofit Quarterly, February 28, 2023
It’s never too early to start thinking about how your home can adapt to meet your changing needs over time, as well as what modifications might be required to make it safer, easier to use and more accessible. “And remember that you can make these changes and still maintain the style of your home. A safe home will increase its value and be more comfortable and more accessible for you, for other seniors who visit you, and for family members of all ages.”
Melissa Birdsong, an interior designer and the board chairwoman of Raleigh Village East, a nonprofit organization focused on helping people age in place, 9 tips for creating a home that is safe for aging in place, Washington Post (free access), February 6, 2023
February 27, 2023
“As the climate crisis continues to cause an increase in severe weather events, greater strain is going to be placed on those that care for the most vulnerable. This report [“Left in the Dark”, issued by the Senate Finance Committee and Senate Special Committee on Aging] is a case study of just one in an increasing number of circumstances where elderly or infirm Americans are subjected to difficult conditions due to severe weather. Whether it’s a winter storm, hurricane or wildfire, more must be done to ensure long-term care facilities are adequately prepared to handle these events and care for their residents.”
Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Left in the Dark, Senate Finance Committee and Senate Special Committee on Aging, February 23, 2023
Unwinding [from the special provisions stemming from the COVID-19 public health emergency] will be an immense challenge for Medicaid agencies and enrollees. But states have proven strategies and solutions at their disposal and can take action to minimize coverage losses among eligible enrollees.
States Must Act to Preserve Medicaid Coverage as End of Continuous Coverage Requirement Nears, The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, February 6, 2023
Most public housing authority policies are even more exclusionary than the federal regulations require, needlessly denying housing assistance to those likely to need it most.
How your local public housing authority can reduce barriers for people with criminal record, Prison Policy Initiative, February 15, 2023
Many of last night’s SAG (Screen Actors Guild) Awards’ most heartfelt—and viral—moments came from Michelle Yeoh, 60, and Jamie Lee Curtis, 64, who took home best lead actress and best supporting actress for Everything Everywhere All at Once. And never change, Jennifer Coolidge (61). As our 50 Over 50 franchise says, success has no age limit.”
SAG Awards’ Best Moments—From ‘Nepo Babies’ To Jenna Ortega And Aubrey Plaza Joining Forces, Forbes Daily, February 27, 2023
Health-related social needs (HRSN) are an individual’s unmet, adverse social conditions (e.g., housing instability, homelessness, nutrition insecurity) that contribute to poor health and are a result of underlying social determinants of health (conditions in which people are born, grow, work, and age). To expand opportunities for states to use Medicaid to address health-related social needs, CMS recently issued new guidance that builds on guidance released in 2021.
A Look at Recent Medicaid Guidance to Address Social Determinants of Health and Health-Related Social Needs, Kaiser Family Foundation, February 22, 2023
“[CMS] is supportive of increasing pre-release services for the justice involved populations and of supporting individuals’ transitioning from institutional settings back into the community, and will continue to work with the state on this component of its proposal.”
Section 1115 Waiver Watch: Approvals to Address Health-Related Social Needs, Kaiser Family Foundation, November 15, 2022
“This is very devastating to Western Massachusetts. I don’t know who to blame more: the administration at the nursing home, or the legislators, or the [state health department]. I don’t know who the real culprit is.” Right now, “I am hoping Mom survives the move.”
Edward Czepiel, a retired Chicopee deputy fire chief who 98-year-old mother was Willimansett Center East in Chicopee which is closing, ‘It’s flooding an already completely congested market.’ Nursing home closures in Western Mass. leave families and hospitals scrambling. Boston Globe, February 26, 2023
“People block it out and memory hole it, but we can’t continue to memory hole something that killed hundreds of thousands of people and continues to kill thousands each week.”
Jennifer Ritz Sullivan, whose mother, Earla Dawn, died due to COVID-19, Salem News, February 23, 2023, Lawmakers consider COVID-19 memorial day
“The loved ones we’ve lost to COVID-19 and those severely harmed by the pandemic — people living with Long Covid and those grieving losses — deserve recognition by the federal government. Memorialization and recognition are essential to the process of healing and recovery.”
Marked by Covid advocacy group statement, Salem News, February 23, 2023, Lawmakers consider COVID-19 memorial day
“It’s considered a violation of the ADA to unnecessarily keep people with disabilities warehoused in institutional settings when people could safely live in a more integrated setting in the community.”
Deborah Filler, Greater Boston Legal Services, A lawsuit could force the state to help thousands of people with disabilities find housing, WGBH, January 26, 2023
“I’m unable to get out, walk around the community. I’m unable to do my own food shopping. I’m unable to do my own laundry. I haven’t seen a full moon in years. You know, those are things that go into making a wholesome life.”
John Simmons, age 74 who is a nursing home resident in Everett and s plaintiff in Simmons v. Commonwealth, A lawsuit could force the state to help thousands of people with disabilities find housing, WGBH, January 26, 2023
Some closures of low-quality homes [are] warranted, but it should be done rationally.
Paul Lanzikos, Coordinator, Dignity Alliance Massachusetts, Three- and four-bed nursing home rooms should be phased out, Boston Globe, February 21, 2023 (updated)
February 20, 2023
“I wouldn’t put a dog in Villages. A dog would get better care than he did.”
Margarette Volkmar, the wife of one of the facility’s residents, Nursing home owners drained cash while residents deteriorated, state filings suggest, NPR Shots, January 31, 2023
The very fact that this essential and sensitive social function [i.e., nursing home care], which ought to be the domain of health professionals and charitable enterprises, is now called an “industry” reflects a total perversion of its purpose.
Would Nursing Home Profiteers Kill Granny to Boost Earnings?, The National Memo, February 20, 2023
You can compare the issue [of a rapidly aging population] to how people used to view climate change: It was happening for many years, but we weren’t paying attention. Societies need to plan for aging, and they’re not well set up to do so. It’s not an in-your-face crisis — it’s a slow-rolling crisis.
Senior societies, *New York Times, February 18, 2023
New York state records show nearly half the state’s 600-plus nursing homes hired real estate, management and staffing companies run or controlled by their owners, frequently paying them well above the cost of services. Meanwhile, in the pandemic’s height, the federal government was giving the facilities hundreds of millions in fiscal relief.
Nursing home owners drained cash while residents deteriorated, state filings suggest, NPR Shots, January 31, 2023
“When you see quality of care decline after an ownership change, the question needs to be asked: What’s going on with the finances?”
Lindsay Heckler, a supervising attorney at Center for Elder Law & Justice in Buffalo, NY, Nursing home owners drained cash while residents deteriorated, state filings suggest, NPR Shots, January 31, 2023
“I never visited Arkansas, and I had no personal connection with the day-to-day operation of any of the nursing homes in Arkansas. The tragedy that had befallen Zelma Grissom was not my fault. I had no control or [oversight] at the premises and I was simply an investor and had no management role in the nursing home at all.”
Joseph Schwartz, the New York state owner of the failed nursing home chain, Skyline Health Care, which at one point owned and operated as many as 114 nursing homes in 11 states including five in Massachusetts, Arkansas court awards $15.7M judgment against nursing home chain over woman’s death, Arkansaw Democrat Gazette, February 19, 2023
“[State Representative Jon Santiago’s] public health expertise and military service make him uniquely qualified to serve as Massachusetts’ first ever Secretary of Veterans’ Services. I’m confident that he will be the leader our veterans need and deserve and will always stand up for their health, safety and wellbeing.”
Gov. Maura Healey, Healey Taps Rep. Santiago for Veterans’ Cabinet Post, State House News, February 17, 2023
“Frontline providers and advocacy organizations have been doing heroic work to provide for families arriving in Massachusetts, but they need continued funding and support.”
Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll, Healey-Driscoll Administration Files $282 Million Supplemental Budget Bill proposes funding for immediate emergency shelter needs and food security, Office of Governor Maura Healey and Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll, January 31, 2023
“The Healey-Driscoll administration should be commended for moving quickly to elevate Veterans’ Services as a standalone agency with direct report to the Governor. . . The Disabled American Veterans look forward to working with him to serve and support our veterans and their families.
Coleman Nee, former Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans’ Services (2011-2015) and National Line Officer for Disabled American Veterans, Governor Healey and Lt. Governor Driscoll Appoint Rep. Jon Santiago as First Cabinet-Level Veterans’ Secretary, Office of Governor Maura Healey and Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll, February 17, 2023
Why hasn’t the Department of Developmental Services created regulations, policies, guidance, orientation, or amend a home- and community-based waiver to meet the requirements outlined in the 2014 law [https://tinyurl.com/RealLivesLaw] ?
Susan Nadworny, Chair, MA Families Organizing for Change, Real families need Real Lives law enforced, *Boston Globe, February 20, 2023
The nursing home workforce is at levels not seen since 1994.
Long Term Care Jobs Report, American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living, January 2023
Workforce shortages are causing more than half of nursing homes nationally to limit resident admissions.
American Health Care Association, Health care vaccine mandate remains as some push for an end, AP News, February 19, 2023
“The message seems to be, ‘We’re doing great, but everything is getting worse’ [within the Social Security Administration]. The phone service is to the point where I’m telling clients to just go down to the field office in person. You may have to wait two to three hours, but at least you’ll be talking to someone.”
Charles Hall, a disability attorney in Raleigh, N.C., and founder of a blog on Social Security operations, Social Security services to worsen despite budget boost, agency head says, *Washington Post, February 18, 2023
“We must address the significant number of people who are waiting too long for important disability decisions at all levels of the disability process. In particular, we share claimants’ frustration about waiting over seven months on average for an initial disability decision.”
Kilolo Kijakazi, acting Social Security commissioner, Social Security services to worsen despite budget boost, agency head says, *Washington Post, February 18, 2023
“It looks like things are going from bad to worse, and I’m very worried.”
Kathleen Romig, director of Social Security and disability policy at the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Social Security services to worsen despite budget boost, agency head says, *Washington Post, February 18, 2023
“There are so many who passed away due to not getting the medical care they needed. Most of these people, they didn’t go in there with death sentences, but they’re dying.”
Teresa Bebeau, whose imprisoned friend died from complications of Covid and cancer in South Carolina, As the Pandemic Swept America, Deaths in Prisons Rose Nearly 50 Percent, New York Times (free access), February 19, 2023
In 2009, about 10 percent of all prisoners were 50 or older; by 2019, that number had jumped to 21 percent, according to the Justice Department.
As the Pandemic Swept America, Deaths in Prisons Rose Nearly 50 Percent, New York Times (free access), February 19, 2023
“You have people just locked up alone for months. If they didn’t have a mental health condition to start with, they certainly do by the end of that.”
Hayden Smith, a criminal justice professor at the University of South Carolina, As the Pandemic Swept America, Deaths in Prisons Rose Nearly 50 Percent, New York Times (free access), February 19, 2023
Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.
Want to live a longer life? Try eating like a centenarian, *Washington Post, February 14, 2023
Let the sparrow find a home, and the swallow, her nest.
Jerry Halberstadt, Stop Bullying Coalition, Even the sparrow has found a home, Salem News, February 8, 2023
Massachusetts must address persisting inequities and staggering COVID-19 death rates (more than 22,000 in total and nearly 4,700 Massachusetts COVID-19 deaths since the start of 2022), borne disproportionately by older adults, chronically ill and disabled people, and Black and brown communities.
Dr. Lara Jirmanus, Massachusetts Coalition for Health Equity, Carlene Pavlos, Massachusetts Public Health Association, Paul Lanzikos, Dignity Alliance Massachusetts, Equity must be driving force of ongoing Mass. public health policy, Boston Globe, February 14, 2023
February 13, 2023
The demographic divide reflects a debate that continues as the pandemic wears on: What responsibility do those at lower risk from the virus have to those at higher risk — not only older people, but those who are immunosuppressed or who have chronic conditions?
For Older Americans, the Pandemic Is Not Over, New York Times (free access), February 12, 2023 (updated)
“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans. In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
Vic Caretti, son of Aldo Caretti, a 85-year-old man who died of Covid in December 2022, For Older Americans, the Pandemic Is Not Over, New York Times (free access), February 12, 2023 (updated)
The Covid-19 pandemic will not be without continuing costs. A pre-pandemic normal is unattainable in the short term, no matter how urgently we desire it. The questions for policymakers are these: how high will we allow the societal costs to be, and who will bear the greatest costs? Universal masking policies distribute a small cost across society, rather than shifting the highest burdens of Covid-19 onto populations that have already been made vulnerable by structural racism and other inequities.
Universal Masking Policies in Schools and Mitigating the Inequitable Costs of Covid-19, New England Journal of Medicine, November 24, 2023
Homelessness is an increasingly salient policy issue across all levels of government—as well as a contentious political one. While urban communities and their representatives often frame the issue in terms of public safety, substance use, and mental health, some policy researchers emphasize the relationship between homelessness and housing markets.
Housing Supply and the Drivers of Homelessness, Bipartisan Policy Center, February 7, 2023
“As the proud daughter of a Navy veteran, I understand how important it is that our veterans receive comprehensive services and care.”
Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll, Healey-Driscoll Administration Announces Appointments to the Veterans’ Homes Council, Office of Governor Maura Healey and Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll, February 8, 2023
“An abrupt end to the emergency declarations would create wide-ranging chaos and uncertainty throughout the health care system — for states, for hospitals and doctors’ offices, and, most importantly, for tens of millions of Americans.”
The White House said in a statement.
“Nursing homes, like all our healthcare, are prime examples of Intersectionality of ‘isms’.” ~Susan Friedman
“Action by advocates and Resident Reps. etc. is met with us being called ‘troublemakers and complainers,’ met with retaliation and intimidation. There is no one to help us. Why not?” ~Karen Klink
“We need a public outcry and we need to demand meaningful changes NOW. We will impact quality of life for people living in nursing homes – and we need everyone to join us!” ~Alice Bonner
“The head social worker came to see me yesterday and was very irate that two ombudsmen came to see me this week due to a few things that have happened lately. I was told not to pay any attention to what they told me.” ~Sharon Wallace
“My action plan includes changing the negative words ‘Nursing Home’ to a positive ideal of ‘Care Centers’.”~Cindy Napolitan
The above quotes are drawn from the webcast, Solutions to Ageism in Nursing Homes, produced by the Gray Panthers of NYC
February 6, 2023
“The 100-year life is here. We’re not ready.”
The Stanford Center on Longevity, The long-life paradox, DealBook – New York Times, January 21, 2023
Addressing the failures of the health care system will require uncomfortable reflection and bold action. Any illusion that medicine and politics are, or should be, separate spheres has been crushed under the weight of over 1.1 million Americans killed by a pandemic that was in many ways a preventable disaster. And many physicians are now finding it difficult to quash the suspicion that our institutions, and much of our work inside them, primarily serve a moneymaking machine. . . To be able to build the systems we need, we must face an unpleasant truth: Our health care institutions as they exist today are part of the problem rather than the solution.
Doctors Aren’t Burned Out from Overwork. We’re Demoralized by Our Health System. *New York Times, February 5, 2023
The indictment alleges that the scheme operated from January 2015 to September 2018. The indictment charges the defendants with health care fraud, six counts of wire fraud, three counts of mail fraud, conspiracy to commit tax fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
New Jersey Man and Company Operating Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities in Wisconsin Charged with Health Care Fraud, U. S. Department of Justice, February 2, 2023, [Editor’s note: CareOne operates 14 nursing homes in Massachusetts]
As a nation we are no longer preparing for an historic demographic shift—we are, in fact, deeply immersed in the opportunities, challenges, realities and necessities of a society with a rapidly growing number of older adults. And COVID-19’s tragedies have only brought the varied needs of this population even more to the forefront. This demographic reality must inform policy debates and decisions across a spectrum of critical issues.
Policy Priorities 2022, USAging
Direct care workers in our community can make more money flipping burgers. Those that stay are facing burnout due to being overworked.
CAREGIVER NEEDED: How the Nation’s Workforce Shortages Make It Harder to Age Well at Home, USAging, Undated
“We have no illusion that this will be beautiful or graceful, but we will be doing everything we can not to lose anyone in the process.”
Dana Hittle, Oregon’s interim Medicaid director, speaking about the so-called Medicaid unwinding, As pandemic-era Medicaid provisions lapse, millions approach a coverage cliff, Kaiser Health News, February 5, 2023
Iowa’s Health Department fined the [nursing care] center [which declared a resident dead who was discovered breathing at the funeral home] $10,000 for two violations, which included a rule that says care homes must preserve the dignity of residents.
A Patient Declared Dead Is Found in a Body Bag Gasping for Air, *New York Times, February 5, 2023
“We do think that immigrants are critical to this workforce and the future of the long-term care industry. We think the industry would probably collapse without them.”
Robert Espinoza, executive vice president of policy at PHI, As long-term care staffing crisis worsens, immigrants can bridge the gaps, WUSF Public Media, February 5, 2023
“Immigration policy is long-term care policy. If we really want to encourage a strong workforce, we need to make immigration more accessible for individuals.”
David Grabowski, professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, As long-term care staffing crisis worsens, immigrants can bridge the gaps, WUSF Public Media, February 5, 2023
The massive real estate substrate of industrialized medical care is draining resources from care. There is no rational justification for exceedingly low pay, and poor care when so few are making so much from the trillions of dollars poured by Americans into the health care system.
Dave Kingsley, THE ENSIGN GROUP 4TH QUARTER REPORT: MARVELOUS IF YOU ARE AN INVESTOR (BUT NOT IF YOU ARE AN EMPLOYEE AND/OR A TAXPAYER), Tallgrass Economics, February 4, 2023
Consequently, the nursing home system remains a closed system that is troubling to most Americans, but they can’t articulate the financial machinations responsible for the lack of investment by corporations in an adequately paid workforce and quality of care. Absence of openness in a complex social system funded by government inevitably leads to the bigger problem of corruption.
In 2016, the General Accounting Office Makes Recommendations Regarding Accurate and Reliable Nursing Home Financial Reports: HHS Says “Thanks, but No Thanks.”, Tall Grass Economics, February 4, 2023
January 30, 2023
“[P]redicting future revenue figures can be a difficult process in normal times. Given the volatile economy we find ourselves in, this will be an especially challenging endeavor.”
House Ways and Means Chairman Aaron Michlewitz, Analysts See Tax Revenues Holding at Elevated Levels, State House News, January 24, 2023
“I’m able to groom myself without help. I can cook. I can clean. I might not do it all fast and everything as some people can, but I can do it.”
John Simmons, who is 74 years old and stuck in a nursing home because he can’t find an affordable accessible place where he can live, ‘Warehoused’, All Things Considered – WGBH, January 26, 2023
“It’s considered a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act to unnecessarily keep people with disabilities warehoused in institutional settings when people could safely live in a more integrated setting in the community.”
Deborah Filler, a lawyer with Greater Boston Legal Services, one of the groups representing the plaintiffs in a federal class action lawsuit, ‘Warehoused’, All Things Considered – WGBH, January 26, 2023
“Right now, the workforce challenge is really hard … so those barriers are there [for persons to leave the nursing home]. If they’re in a nursing home for too long, and they lose their housing, that’s even more difficult because we have to try to find them housing. And there’s just not a lot of accessible affordable housing in Massachusetts.”
Lisa Gurgone, CEO of Mystic Valley Elder Services, ‘Warehoused’, All Things Considered – WGBH, January 26, 2023
Homelessness pummels the body. “Fifty is the new 75” when it comes to people without a permanent place to reside.
Margot Kushel, M.D., a professor at the University of California San Francisco who has led longitudinal studies on unhoused, older adults, The Graying of America’s Homeless: An Alarming Trend, AARP, December 20, 2022 (updated)
What most patients want is to understand their present situation and to have a clear vision of the goals of care delivered in a thoughtful way—one that allows them to trust the information and maintain their dignity.
Dr. Kenneth Scott, CEO and founder of SilverSage Management Services, providing physicians and consulting to the long-term care industry, How Nursing Homes Can Increase Accountability And Improve Quality Of Care, Forbes, January 27, 2023
“Although the original vaccination campaign in nursing homes was highly successful in bringing down case and death rates, and mandates led to staff vaccination rates exceeding the thresholds we found for high effectiveness, these policies cannot remain stagnant. As the pandemic evolves, staff vaccination mandates need to evolve as well.”
Up to 50% Higher Infection Risk for Nursing Home Residents Without Boosters, Skilled Nursing News, January 27, 2023
More than 30 states allow CNAs to act as medtechs and pass out medications to residents. It’s one of the few things the state can do immediately to address the staffing shortage.
Cautionary Tale: Staffing Mandate Collides with Nursing Home Labor Crisis and Referral Bottleneck, Skilled Nursing News, January 27, 2023
“For [former State Representative] Alice [Wolf of Cambridge], seeing the dignity of another human being wasn’t a process, it was something that was always intuitive. She modeled what’s possible in terms of caring about the well-being of others and standing up and translating that into better policies.”
State Representative Marjorie Decker, Former Cambridge mayor Alice Wolf, an advocate for refugees and LGBTQ equality, dies at 89, *Boston Globe, January 29, 2023
While some brides obsess over their dress, or shoes, or earrings — Sara Hughes wanted “a really cool arm.”
A Bride’s Prosthesis Made Not to Blend In, but to Shine, *New York Times, January 27, 2023
The ratio of grandparents to children is higher than ever before. That has big consequences.
The age of the grandparent has arrived, *The Economist, January 12, 2023
“Risk starts to go up well below levels where people would think, ‘Oh, that person has an alcohol problem’. Alcohol is harmful to the health starting at very low levels.”
Dr. Tim Naimi, director of the University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, Even a Little Alcohol Can Harm Your Health, *New York Times, January 13, 2023
Negotiating a pathway out for many of the 20,000 Bay Staters would send a powerful signal to one of the most marginalized populations—people with disabilities in nursing facilities, many of whom are from communities of color. It would also build trust with community partners who excel at coming up with creative solutions to these very challenges.
Avoid unnecessary institutionalization in nursing homes, CommonWealth Magazine, January 27, 2023
But as much as everyone loves the imaginary Hollywood spectacle of a big courtroom battle over legal rights, the best move is to negotiate and settle this lawsuit.
Avoid unnecessary institutionalization in nursing homes, CommonWealth Magazine, January 27, 2023
“The extra COVID SNAP benefits have provided critical support for individuals and families to buy food, and have also indirectly supported our local grocery stores and farmers. The Healey-Driscoll Administration is aiming to be a leader among states in providing households with an offramp to the abrupt end of these extra benefits and will continue to be a food security leader through systemic initiatives like this.”
Acting Health and Human Services Secretary Mary Beckman, Healey-Driscoll Administration Files $282 Million Supplemental Budget, Office of Governor Maura Healey and Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll, January 30, 2023
Hospitals aren’t even the ideal places to heal, oftentimes. Infections spread among patients, occasionally with fatal results. The constant alarms and beeps made by all the monitors and machinery interrupt sleep and recovery. Older patients in particular become agitated and confused by the disruptions. Some patients have to go through rehabilitation afterward, having been confined to a hospital bed for so long. It’s no wonder that both patients and clinicians alike might want an alternative to traditional hospital care.
Your Next Hospital Bed Might Be at Home, New York Times (free access), January 27, 2023 (updated)
January 23, 2023
“People in nursing homes deserve safe, high-quality care, and we are redoubling our oversight efforts to make sure that facilities are not prescribing unnecessary medications.”
Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Nursing Homes’ Use of Schizophrenia Drugs to Be Audited by U.S. Government, Wall Street Journal, January 19, 2023
“The nursing home industry has used for decades these antipsychotic medications as a way to sedate our most frail and vulnerable citizens. This is an issue that could have been remedied. Many lives would have been saved if CMS had done their job, through different administrations.”
Martha Deaver, an Arkansas-based advocate for nursing-home residents and their families, Nursing Homes’ Use of Schizophrenia Drugs to Be Audited by U.S. Government, Wall Street Journal, January 19, 2023
“President Biden issued a call to action to improve the quality of America’s nursing homes, and HHS is taking action so that seniors, people with disabilities, and others living in nursing homes receive the highest quality care. No nursing home resident should be improperly diagnosed with schizophrenia or given an inappropriate antipsychotic. The steps we are taking today will help prevent these errors and give families peace of mind.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, CMS to Publicly Post Disputed Nursing Home Citations, Tighten Antipsychotic Oversight and Penalties, Skilled Nursing News, January 18, 2023
“Antipsychotic drugs are too often used on residents with dementia because a facility is unwilling to hire sufficient staff, with the appropriate competencies, to employ non-pharmacological approaches to dementia care.”
Long Term Care Community Coalition, CMS to Publicly Post Disputed Nursing Home Citations, Tighten Antipsychotic Oversight and Penalties, Skilled Nursing News, January 18, 2023
Almost every American has been affected in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. . . These findings make clear that nursing homes in this country were not prepared for the sweeping health emergency that COVID-19 created, nor were they able to stem the devastation once it was evident that nursing homes were especially vulnerable. Virtually all nursing homes experienced infections, and more than 1,300 nursing homes had extreme infection rates of 75 percent or higher during a surge period and an average overall mortality rate close to 20 percent.
New OIG Report on First Year of COVID-19 Pandemic Dispels Myth of Inevitability of Infection, Finds Fault with Infection Surveys, and Recommends Exploring Increased Staffing to Protect Residents from Infections, The Consumer Voice, January 19, 2023
“In some cases, these labor challenges have resulted in nursing homes permanently closing their doors.”
Data Doesn’t Lie: Current Pace Sets Nursing Home Workforce Recovery Back to 2027, Skilled Nursing News, January 19, 2023
“I understood why patients might cancel in-person visits or elective surgeries because there are so many potential points of infection associated with office or hospital-based care. I wasn’t prepared to hear about so many patients declining home-based health care services, since home-based health care is a much more controlled interaction with fewer potential points of infection.”
Jennifer Inloes, a Doctor of Nursing Practice student at the University of Michigan School of Nursing, Many older adults declined home medical care for fear of COVID, causing new or worsening conditions, Michigan News, January 18, 2023
“If you’re a younger model, in a certain way you’re not as impactful because it’s an expected situation. But for me, it makes women my age feel good about themselves and that’s very rewarding.” As a 90-year-old model her job was to communicate: “You are not the perfect person. You are simply an example of what everyone could aspire to.”
Frances Dunscombe, who began her modeling career at age 82, They’re Cover Girls. They’re in Their 70s, *Wall Street Journal, January 20, 2023 (updated)
“We prefer not to strike. We want to work, we are privileged to do what we do, but we have no leverage if it’s not on the cards.”
Anis Adnani, a second-year emergency medicine resident at the University of Illinois Chicago, where residents voted to join CIR in 2021, Medical Residents Unionize Over Pay, Working Conditions, *Wall Street Journal, January 17, 2023
“Advocating for living wages helps me be more focused on my patients, rather than worrying about if I can afford gas to get home or what I’m going to eat.”
Nicolette Alberti, a union member and second-year resident in emergency and internal medicine at UIC, Medical Residents Unionize Over Pay, Working Conditions, *Wall Street Journal, January 17, 2023
One promising means of helping patients is supported decision-making, in which an adult with cognitive impairment (called a beneficiary) identifies one or more trusted others (called supporters) to assist them in decision-making.
Supporting decision making as cognition declines, Baylor College of Medicine, January 20, 2023
The top concern to voters 65 and over, especially women, was “threats to democracy,” according to AARP.
Older Voters Know Exactly What’s at Stake, and They’ll Be Here for Quite a While, New York Times (free access), January 22, 2023
We’re not your parent’s grandparents.
Older Voters Know Exactly What’s at Stake, and They’ll Be Here for Quite a While, New York Times (free access), January 22, 2023
“The battle isn’t over,” said Jeffrey Duchin, the health officer for the public-health agency that covers Seattle and King County, who said he is concerned the U.S. isn’t pushing harder for things like improved vaccines and better indoor ventilation. “The virus is relentless; it’s not going to disappear.
U.S. Covid-19 Pandemic Enters Fourth Year with Hospitalizations on the Decline, *Wall Street Journal, January 20, 2023 (updated)
“We’ve got to really keep in perspective that we’ve seen many downstream effects of Covid and we can’t ignore them.”
Dr. Manisha Juthani, commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Public Health, U.S. Covid-19 Pandemic Enters Fourth Year With Hospitalizations on the Decline, *Wall Street Journal, January 20, 2023 (updated)
City and state governments across the country publicly own land and houses that could be turned over to community groups.
How Housing Activists Took on Philadelphia and Won, The New Republic, March 29, 2021
“Because psychiatric units are unable to transfer patients ready for discharge into DMH continuing care beds, the psychiatric units themselves are unable to accept new patients into the inpatient psychiatric beds. This, in turn, contributes to ‘behavioral health boarding’ in hospital emergency departments and other units.”
From Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association report, Hospital Boarding Crisis Persists, Salem News, January 21, 2023
“The 100-year life is here. We’re not ready.”
Stanford Center on Longevity, The long-life paradox, New York Times – Deal Book, January 21, 2023
Age discrimination is growing more pervasive in the corporate world, and that could affect corporate productivity. “I would like to see corporations held accountable for age discrimination just as they are for every other form of discrimination. I would like companies to have to report how many people are employed at different ages so we can get a sense of, ‘Are you employing people in their 60s and 70s?’”
Lynda Gratton, a professor of management practice at London Business School and a co-author of “The Hundred-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity,” The long-life paradox, New York Times – Deal Book, January 21, 2023
In fact, people with mental illness are much more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators; crimes by those with a mental disorder usually have something to do with drug addiction.
Mental Illness Shouldn’t Be Kept Out of Sight, *Wall Street Journal, December 29, 2022
January 18, 2023
A minimum staffing standard will save countless lives and result in better health outcomes for nursing home residents across the country.
Why Nursing Homes Need a Minimum Staffing Standard, National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, January 2023
“When I wake up in the morning, I never know how much energy I’m going to have because of my chronic illness.”
Fortesa Latifi, Spoon theory: What it is and how I use it to manage chronic illness. *Washington Post, January 14, 2023
“No nursing home resident should be improperly diagnosed with schizophrenia or given an inappropriate antipsychotic.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Feds to investigate nursing home abuse of antipsychotics, AP News, January 18, 2023
Researchers across the social and medical sciences have found a strong link between mental health and green space or being outdoors. Even seeing a tree out your window can help you recover from illness faster.
The happiest, least stressful, most meaningful jobs in America, *Washington Post, January 6, 2023
To age is to live. But living well into our later years of life is not a guarantee. To do that, you need a plan.
Join the Movement: Every State Should Have a Multisector Plan for Aging, Generation – American Society on Aging, January 11, 2023
A whopping 34% of Asian Americans have experienced discrimination when seeking Alzheimer’s care.
One Size Does Not Fit All: Asian Americans and Dementia Risk, Generations – American Society on Aging, January 10, 2023
“Sometimes you have to wait two, maybe three hours to have your brief changed. You’re sitting in a wet brief for that amount of time. It’s terrible. We just feel so helpless.”
Patty Bausch, 62,resident in an Athena nursing home, Nursing home parent Athena under fire in 3 New England states, Republican American, January 15, 2023
Governments around the world are failing to adopt disability-inclusive climate adaptation and mitigation strategies, even though climate change disproportionately affects persons with disabilities.
Towards Disability-Inclusive Climate Resilience, Harvard Law School Project on Disability, January 9, 2023
Brentwood [Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Danvers], however, has a below-average overall rating from the federal agency on its nursing home website. The facility also scores in the bottom 4% of nursing homes in Massachusetts, according to the state’s nursing home performance tool. . . The facility has been fined four times by the federal government in the last three years for serious health or fire safety violations.
Nurse’s Aide Accused of Sex Abuse, Salem News, January 12, 2023
January 9, 2023
Anyone who has a loved one who must go to or live in a nursing home would probably agree that it is unsatisfactory to have them there. If you want change, you need to bring this to the repeated attention of your elected representatives and to ask directly for the much-needed changes.
Carolyn Rosenblatt, The Call for Nursing Home Reform: Will It Have Any Effect?, Forbes, January 5, 2023
“But I was in that nursing home and everybody was sittin’ in a chair, lookin’ out the window, starin’ into space and drooling or watchin’ TV, but nobody’s talkin’.”
Dying patient of Dr. Jim O’Connell, who has spent his medical career caring for the homeless in Boston, ‘You Have to Learn to Listen’: How a Doctor Cares for Boston’s Homeless, New York Times (free access), January 5, 2023
Owners and operators of nursing homes and their trade associations argue that they will need more money when mandatory staffing ratios promised by the Biden Administration are implemented. Don’t believe them. . . Before nursing homes are given more public money, the Center for Medicare Advocacy urges far greater transparency and accountability for the billions of dollars that nursing homes already receive.
Toby Edelman, Executive Director, Center for Medicare Advocacy, Require Full Disclosure & Accountability for Nursing Home Reimbursement, Center for Medicare Advocacy, January 5, 2023
More than one million people live in US nursing homes and
each week, one in five of them are given dangerous
antipsychotic (AP) drugs. In most cases these drugs are
administered without clinical justification.
A Decade of Drugging, Long Term Care Community Coalition
Across states, average base Medicaid payment rates for nursing facility services varied considerably, ranging from 62 to 182 percent of the national average. . . Across facilities within states, base payment rates and costs also vary considerably. Facilities that serve a high share of Medicaid-covered residents generally have lower base payment rates but also have lower facility costs, in part because they generally have lower staffing levels than other facilities. . . Measures of base payments relative to costs vary widely, ranging from less than 70 percent of costs for 15 percent of facilities to more than 100 percent of costs for 19 percent of facilities.
Estimates of Medicaid Nursing Facility Payments Relative to Costs, Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, January 2023
The criminal justice system and the adult living complexes entrusted with protecting these victims’ health and safety appeared to be blinded to the crimes by a fatal strain of ageism. . . “The mentality of it was, ‘They were old, and they just died.’” . . . [Jeffrey Barnard, M.D., medical examiner for Dallas County] conceded that his office rarely orders autopsies for anyone over 65. Instead, thousands of “unattended deaths” (outside a hospital with no doctor present) are handled by phone — even those involving robberies or burglaries. . . “The owners and operators [of upscale older adult communities] prioritized the profits of their private equity investors over the lives of the elderly residents they undertook to protect.”. . . Do elderly lives not matter?”
Unnatural Causes: The Case of the Texas Serial Elder Murders, AARP The Magazine, November 21, 2022
“Roughly 50% of individuals going into senior living or a SNF have elevated anxiety or depression.”
Home Health Providers Believe They Can Be The ‘Quarterback’ For Behavioral Health Needs, Home Health Care News, January 4, 2023
We must do a better job of including the voices and priorities of elders generally, and those of diverse elders especially, in public health and health policy.
Understanding Pandemic Experiences Among America’s Elders, *Health Affairs, December 2022
But unlike younger and middle-aged adults, who were allowed to disregard masking and isolation if they wanted to, vulnerable old people were stripped of agency over their options, actions, and lives. As geriatrician Joanne Lynn quipped about nursing home residents, “They were incarcerated without committing a crime and without judicial review.” We must do a better job of including the voices and priorities of elders generally, and those of diverse elders especially, in public health and health policy.
Understanding Pandemic Experiences Among America’s Elders, *Health Affairs, December 2022
Public health, by definition, does not attend to individuals, but to populations and communities. Yet public health can and, given our aging population, must incorporate geriatrics and gerontology knowledge and approaches into its structures, training, and policies if going forward they hope to avoid the harms—including protracted social isolation—unnecessarily imposed on older Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Understanding Pandemic Experiences Among America’s Elders, *Health Affairs, December 2022
Older adults were far more likely to experience severe COVID-19 health outcomes in prison just as they were in the community. . . Younger adults were far more likely to be released during the pandemic—a trend similar to the pre-pandemic era. . . The challenge must be to consider the differential impact that COVID-19 has had on morbidity and mortality among incarcerated older adults.
Impact Of COVID-19 On the Health of Incarcerated Older Adults in California State Prisons, *Health Affairs, August 2022
Experts agree that it costs far more to incarcerate an elderly person than a younger one, mostly because of higher medical expenses. . . Society hasn’t quite figured out the most appropriate destination for many of the older people who are released after spending much of their lives behind prison walls.
The Aging of The US Prison Population: A Public Health Crisis, *Health Affairs, August 2022
“[Older incarcerated persons] are not only aging but developing the medical and physical problems and disabilities seen in a much more aged population. These would include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and the consequences of hepatitis and liver disease.” Causes include the accumulation of life stresses before incarceration, an overwhelmed prison health system, and the rigors of living in an environment that is both spartan and dangerous.
Dr. Brie Williams, geriatrician and professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco and director of the Center for Vulnerable Populations, The Aging Of The US Prison Population: A Public Health Crisis, *Health Affairs, August 2022
It shouldn’t take a Justice Department investigation to bring basic and humane reforms to the state’s prisons. . . [T]he U.S. Justice Department . . .has alleged DOC “failed to provide constitutionally adequate mental health care and supervision to incarcerated persons in mental health crisis and violated the constitutional rights” of those inmates “through prolonged restrictive housing on mental health watch.” . . So too, a better and more honest approach to medical parole than the one used in the year ending June 30, 2021, in which DOC granted only 17 of the 211 applications — and no applications of any of the 70 Black applicants. [The landmark 2018 Criminal Justice Act] was tailored to provide a humane option for people at the end of their lives,” said Mara Voukydis, an attorney heading up the parole advocacy unit at the Committee for Public Counsel Services. . . Promoting a just and humane system will make this a safer Commonwealth — and that needs to be on this governor’s agenda too.
Editorial Board, Healey’s chance to correct the corrections system, *Boston Globe, January 8, 2033
There is an unspoken and growing public health crisis in our country. For millions of Americans with serious health care needs, their treatment is not being provided at a hospital or clinic, but at the county jail. . . Consider this: 40 percent of state prisoners and 33 percent of individuals in federal correctional facilities have a chronic health condition. At [the Middlesex County Correctional] facility, 65 percent of individuals are being treated for a chronic disease, ranging from asthma and cancer to psychological disorders. . . We cannot allow more people, rehabilitated and ready for reentry, to lose their health care and potentially their lives because of an outdated, counterproductive policy. Let’s eliminate it now.
Peter Koutoujian, Sheriff, Middlesex County, Medicaid should cover the incarcerated, Commonwealth Magazine – The Upload, January 8, 2023
The odds of being sent to solitary increased by 125% for those with serious mental illness and by 172% for those with any mental illness.
Are People With a Mental Health Diagnosis More Likely to Do Time in Solitary?, Council on Criminal Justice, November 16, 2022
What is needed is a system of care advocates, with the appropriate oversight, who can step in from the beginning, know how to navigate the systems of care, and are willing to spend significant time and effort in the process.
James Lomastro, Dignity Alliance Massachusetts, Short of guardians, advocates could help patients navigate system, *Boston Globe, January 4, 2023
Unfortunately, in our society, if things become invisible, then they will disappear from our decision-making priorities, and that ought not to happen.
Paul Lanzikos, Coordinator, Dignity Alliance Massachusetts, BU Alum Calls for a COVID Day of Remembrance in Massachusetts, Bostonia, October 31, 2022
“Every nursing home resident deserves to live in a safe environment, with dignity and access to high-quality care. This resolution ensures that Athena facilities will appropriately provide care for individuals with substance use disorder and helps to restore the trust families need when making critical decisions about the care of their loved ones.”
Attorney General Maura Healey, AG Healey Secures $1.75 Million Resolution With Nursing Home Chain Over Failure To Meet the Needs of Residents With Substance Use Disorder, Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General, December 21, 2022
The covid pandemic was the worst public health catastrophe in 100 years but could easily happen again — and soon. A system of global genomic surveillance — an early warning radar for disease — ought to be a high priority.
Congress has not stepped up to fight covid-19 — or the next pandemic, Washington Post, January 8.2023
“I never like when I see anything make a dramatic jump like we have seen with XBB. This ascent is sharp and striking.”
Dr. Shira Doron, Tufts Medical Center, COVID Levels Skyrocket in Greater Boston, Much of Mass. Now High Risk, NBC Boston, January 6, 2023
“What we need to do is get booster numbers up across the board. There’s this vulnerable population out there that really needs protection from the rest of us.”
Sam Scarpino, director of artificial intelligence and life sciences, Northeastern University, Latest numbers show jump in COVID-19 deaths as expected winter surge arrives, *Boston Globe, January 6, 2023
[A]t least a dozen rooms at the home were in “terrible” condition and contained feces, dead rodents, dirt, and bugs.
In letter from Jeffrey S. Shapiro, the state’s inspector general, to Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, In scathing letter, state watchdog criticizes management of Chelsea veterans’ home, *Boston Globe, January 4, 2023
January 3, 2023
“There’s a workforce crisis across so many sectors right now in our state, but no sector is experiencing it more than human services and health care and the consequence of that, where people are relying on that care, is just absolutely devastating. As governor, I’m going to continue to stand up for the tens of thousands of homecare workers who are providing vital care, compassionate care, to ensure that people are able to live independently, safely and with dignity. We deprive ourselves as a commonwealth when we fail to recognize the dignity, the worth and the capacity of each person in this state.
Governor-elect Maura Healey, Healey vows to address shortage of personal care attendants, Hampshire Gazette, December 27, 2022
“I thought I was sensitive and compassionate before Jeff was injured, but I found that there’s just a whole other level of what he was experiencing that affected me profoundly.” As a parent and caregiver, “you suddenly belong to this community that you never knew you were going to be part of, and none of us probably wanted to be there.”
Judy Woodruff, Judy Woodruff on how her son with disabilities changed her view of health care, Washington Post (free access), December 29, 2022
Covering disabilities is complicated by the fact that they occur for so many reasons: genetic conditions, illness, accidents, war injuries. “Because there are so many different organizations and people advocating, it’s been hard to come together and make one case. It pits one good cause against another good cause.”
Judy Woodruff, Judy Woodruff on how her son with disabilities changed her view of health care, Washington Post (free access), December 29, 2022
Our health care system cannot function without family caregivers.
National Strategy Will Meet Caregivers’ Needs, Next Avenue, November 21, 2022
Too often, “old people” [in the United States] are regarded as useless, helpless or a nuisance, left to wind down the clock as they stare out the window, a lifetime of experiences, work, achievement, and sacrifice forgotten.
Gary Abernathy, Ageism is one form of bigotry that never seems to get old, Washington Post (free access), December 28, 2022
The government is leaving billions of dollars on the table.
The Great Big Medicare Rip-Off, The Atlantic, December 26, 2022
There are over one billion disabled people around the globe (and counting, due to Long Covid). And it’s been over thirty-two years since the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). So, why don’t small businesses have holiday (and year-round) marketing plans that include disabled people as a viable consumer group and valuable part of the community? The message here is that there is no welcome mat for disabled people.
Shopping Locally for the Holidays Should Be Accessible to All, The Century Foundation, Voices of Disability Economic Justice Project, December 19, 2022
“[Ending homelessness is] a complicated issue. My only observation is until the bigger resolution happens . . . it seems like well-run attempts to address this issue neighborhood by neighborhood is a reasonable step forward.”
Will Cohen, chair of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council, ‘Permanent supportive housing’ may be controversial to would-be neighbors, but it’s been beneficial to those who live in it, *Boston Globe, December 20, 2022 (updated)
“We are concerned that when applied to hospice care, the private equity model of generating profit on a rapid turnaround can occur at the expense of dying patients and their families.”
Senate Finance Committee Report, Congress and Industry Leaders Call for Crackdown on Hospice Fraud, ProPublica, December 19, 2022
“I feel like standing still isn’t an option.
Mary McGeown, executive director of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children commenting on Massachusetts new “front door” initiative regarding behavioral health services, The state’s ‘front door’ to behavioral health care set to open as demand for services soars, *Boston Globe, January 1, 2023