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Over 500,000 people with Medicare saved $1.2 billion in past decade

Arlington, VA (Dec. 17, 2018) – Twenty-five new organizations have joined the National Council on Aging’s (NCOA) national network of Benefits Enrollment Centers (BECs), providing personalized assistance to low-income Medicare beneficiaries who want to access programs that help pay for health care, prescriptions, food, utilities, and more.

The organizations will receive grants to create or expand coordinated, community-wide systems to enroll older adults and individuals with disabilities into benefits programs that stretch their monthly budgets. Several of the new BEC grantees will focus on reaching individuals who have historically been under-enrolled in benefits and may face unique challenges to accessing services. They will pilot innovative approaches, including:

  • Using promotoras (community health workers) to better reach Spanish-speaking Medicare beneficiaries;
  • Bundling benefits application assistance with case management services offered to residents of senior public housing; and
  • Integrating benefits enrollment into an intervention addressing the social and behavioral determinants of health to enable older adults to age in place.

“We are pleased to support strategies to not only reach more diverse communities, but also build benefits into a broader framework of improving health and financial well-being,” said Leslie Fried, Senior Director of the NCOA Center for Benefits Access, which oversees the grant. “This is a significant expansion of our network and ensures that seniors in these areas can get the support they want from people in their communities.”

The newest BECs are:

  • Alamo Area Council of Governments (San Antonio, TX)
  • Blount County Community Action Agency (Maryville, TN)
  • CAPI USA (Brooklyn Center, MN)
  • Catholic Charities Hawaii (Honolulu, HI)
  • Colorado Nonprofit Development Center dba Benefits in Action (Lakewood, CO)
  • Community Health Clinics Inc., Terry Riley Health Services (Nampa, ID)
  • Council on Aging for Southeastern Vermont dba Senior Solutions (Springfield, VT)
  • East Valley Adults Resources, Inc. (Mesa, AZ)
  • Erie Department of Senior Services (Buffalo, NY)
  • Family Eldercare (Austin, TX)
  • Howard Brown Health (Chicago, IL)
  • Kenosha County Aging and Disability Resource Center (Kenosha, WI)
  • Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee (Knoxville, TN)
  • The Latino Health Insurance Program, Inc. (Framingham, MA)
  • LTSC Community Development Corporation (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Missouri Department of Insurance/CLAIM (Jefferson City, MO)
  • National Church Residences (Columbus, OH)
  • North Mississippi Rural Legal Services (Oxford, MS)
  • Northwest Senior and Disability Services (Salem, OR)
  • Northwest Side Housing (Chicago, IL)
  • Rhode Island Division of Elderly Affairs (Cranston, RI)
  • Senior Citizens Greater Dallas, Inc., dba The Senior Source (Dallas, TX)
  • Senior Connections, The Capital Area Agency on Aging (Richmond, VA)
  • Steuben County Office for the Aging (Bath, NY)
  • United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties (Farmingdale, NJ)

BECs are funded through the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA), administered at the federal level by the U.S. Administration for Community Living. NCOA’s Center for Benefits Access has served as the MIPPA Resource Center for the past 10 years.

“These important community-based organizations have assisted more than 500,000 seniors and younger adults with disabilities to increase their monthly budgets more than $1.2 billion since their inception in 2009. That’s nearly 140 lives impacted every day,” said Fried. “At NCOA, we believe every person deserves to age well, and for a growing number of people, that means accessing benefit programs to make ends meet. We are excited to be able to find good partners to help grow our network to improve lives and communities at the same time.”

The BEC network now totals 87 diverse organizations serving Medicare beneficiaries in 43 states. To find out more about their work, visit ncoa.org/becs.

The post NCOA Network of Benefits Enrollment Centers Expands to 43 States appeared first on NCOA.

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NCOA is the collaborative leader of the Aging Hub of 100 Million Healthier Lives (100MLives), an initiative of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), a leading innovator in improving health and health care worldwide.

100MLives is an unprecedented collaboration of change agents across sectors who are working to fundamentally transform the way the world thinks and acts to improve health, well-being, and equity to get to breakthrough results. The initiative includes several Hubs that are focused on unique populations, issues, and systems.

The Aging Hub is working to create and support a nationwide ecosystem for measuring, fostering, and bringing to scale innovations that address the social and behavioral determinants of health for older adults in the community. As leader of the Aging Hub, NCOA is encouraging other national, state, and local partners to participate in this nationwide initiative, so we can achieve change across the health system.

The Challenge

The rising tide of chronic disease, an aging population, structural inequity in health outcomes (despite advances in health care), and new technology all demand a fundamentally different approach to fostering health—one that brings sectors together to address the SBDOH. NCOA is leading the Aging Hub because:

  • We believe that every person deserves to age well. The Aging Well Hub allows us to define what aging well means for older adults—and what programs can make it a reality for millions of people.
  • We are committed to measuring and scaling innovations that improve lives. We are already tracking our own social impact with the goal of improving 10 million lives by 2020 and 50 million by 2030.
  • We are committed to strengthening the aging network. The Aging Hub gives our community-based partners, especially senior centers, a uniform way to measure their own impact and improve their services.
Vision and Mission

The vision of the Aging Hub is to build a community of solutions to the most intractable challenges that stand in the way of achieving health, well-being, and equity for older adults. The mission is to create and support a nationwide ecosystem for measuring, fostering, and bringing to scale innovations that address the social and behavioral determinants of health for older adults in the community.

100MLives is grounded in the social and behavioral determinants of health—the idea that where people live, work, and play affects their health and well-being. The initiative also is committed to measuring what matters to track how individual programs and interventions impact a person’s life.

To measure impact, the initiative uses the Adult Well-Being Assessment, which is a validated self-reported survey. The 7-question assessment asks individuals to rate their well-being in the areas of finances; physical, mental, and spiritual health; and social support. Asking individuals to complete the survey means we can understand what matters most to them and what difference we are making in their daily lives.

How to Get Involved

Senior centers and other community-based organizations that are interested in this initiative can:

  • Commit to the goals of shared measurement and improvement
  • Provide data on well-being and demographics to Aging Hub
  • Participate in shared learning opportunities.

For more information, please contact Kathleen.Cameron@ncoa.org.

The post 100 Million Healthier Lives appeared first on NCOA.

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Congratulations to the three Senior Centers from Alaska, Tennessee and Virginia that achieved National Senior Center Accreditation in November 2018.

Jonesborough Senior Center, Tennessee

The Jonesborough Senior Center is located in the Eastern Tennessee town of just 5,000 people.  Given this small-town size, the construction of a new 30,000 SF center in 2016 was a remarkable achievement made possible by significant public funding support. The new center’s success can be attested by the growth from 500 to nearly 2,000 members, many of whom come from outside communities, including the much larger Johnson City.

The center is estimated to serve an average of 192 persons per day. About 74% of the members are age 74 or younger, including 26% who are under 65. 65% are female and about 3% represent minority groups. Staff members have expanded to eight, about half of whom are part-time.

The senior center’s annual budget of nearly $660,000 is funded 85% by the town, 6% from the state and 9% from other sources including county, area agency grants, membership fees, donations, and fundraising projects. Annual membership fees ranged from $10 for Jonesborough residents to $20 for county residents outside the town to $30 for participants outside the county.

There is a wide variety of programs, averaging 14 to 19 different activities, classes, and trips daily. The center uses the Seven Dimensions of Wellness to develop a holistic, comprehensive mix of programs. The lower level of the center is devoted to wellness activities, including a state of the art fitness facility, a large multipurpose space that accommodates active wellness classes, and quiet spaces for health exams and consultations. Other significant programs include transportation to and from the center, congregate meals, home delivered meals, information/referral, and some in-home care services.

The center is governed by the Jonesville Town Board of Mayor and Aldermen which hires and manages the Executive Director.  There is also an active Advisory Board, composed of center and community members, whose function was significantly upgraded in preparation for the new center and accreditation process.

The small-town setting enables close community partnerships with many organizations including the area agency, extension office, county health department, neighborhood service centers, Alzheimer’s Association, area nursing homes and assisted living communities, financial institutions, home health agencies, and legal aid services. The center also has established a relationship with East Tennessee State University which provides interns and technical assistance to some center programs.

The Peer Reviewer notes the following strengths of the senior center:

  • A beautiful new center that had greatly increased membership;
  • A caring staff that worked together well and met daily to insure coordination of programs and services;
  • Outstanding leadership that welcomed and accommodated change;
  • Strong diverse programming with a holistic framework provided by the seven dimensions of wellness;
  • Committed, capable volunteers and an engaged advisory council;
  • A dynamic self-assessment process involving staff, volunteers, and community leaders;
  • Strong public financial support, and a commitment to strategic future planning that will insure continued growth and success;
  • Excellent community networking and collaboration, including a jointly funded service coordinator with the Area Agency who was housed at the center;
  • A well thought out continuum of wellness programs on the lower level; and
  • Model programs and practices such as the parish nursing collaboration and use of jail inmates to complete construction of the new facility.
Senior Citizens of Kodiak, Inc. Alaska

Senior Citizens of Kodiak, Inc (SCOK), a non-profit corporation established in 1973, provides support services for people 60 & older on Kodiak Island at the Kodiak Senior Center. It is in the downtown area in the City of Kodiak.  Although located in the City, they consider themselves rural primarily to their remote location.  The agency’s mission is “To enhance the lives of older adults”.

SCOK was original formed to provide basic Information and referral service.  The agency grew to offer congregate and home delivered meals at a local senior independent apartment complex.  In 1985, through federal & state funding, it moved to an 8,000 sq. ft multi-use senior center.  With a state grant, SCOK began an Adult Day Care program, Island Cove, in 1991 at the same senior independent living apartment complex they started their meal programs, then moved that program into the lower level of the senior center in 1996.  Since 2006, SCOK has received over $2 million in deferred maintenance, foundation & state legislative capital grants.  These funds allowed them to add more than 4,000 sq. ft in program space as well as other needed facility improvements.

SCOK serves 2,271 people 60 & over on the island with congregate (5 days a week) and home delivered (7 days a week) meals, transportation (7 days a week) as the lead agency, Information and Referral, family caregiver support & trainings, respite, care coordination, Lifeline, Medicare waiver services and counseling, equipment closet, chore service and an Adult Day Care program (7 days a week).

Kodiak Island has a population of 13,287 and is the 2nd largest island in the country.  It is 252 miles southwest of Anchorage, the state’s largest city.  There are 6 villages on the island, each with a population of 500 people.  Access to the island is by plane (1 hour) from Anchorage or by ferry (9 to 12 hours) from Homer.  Kodiak also has the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge and the largest Coast Guard based in the country with a population of 3,000.

There are 2,271 seniors 60 and over living on Kodiak Island, mostly in the City of Kodiak.  66% are white, 6% Native Alaskan, 25% Asian/Pacific Islander, 1% African American and 2% Hispanic.  196 are 80 and older and the fastest growing segment of the senior population is the 75 and older group.  Most Kodiak seniors are between 65-74 (41%). SCOK serve 99% of the seniors on Kodiak Island.  The average daily attendance is 70 with seniors participating in activities, the meals programs and adult day program.

The Peer Reviewer notes the following strengths of the senior center:

  • Community collaboration and service delivery is SCOK’s strongest area. Extensive community partnerships both in aging services, corporations, City of Kodiak and other community non-profits.
  • Very dedicated and caring staff who work together well and love working with their senior population. Go the extra mile to ensure all their needs are met. Everyone (including the Executive Director) chips in where needed including serving meals, transporting volunteers/participants, filling in for staff out on leave, etc.
  • The SCOK Executive Director is also Mayor of Kodiak and serves on several boards at the local, regional (Borough), state and national level and has developed extensive relationships that positions them to successfully pursue numerous grants. Several staff also serve on many local community boards.
  • The SCOK endowment development is very impressive, growing an initial $100,000 donation up to over $2 million which they rarely utilize to ensure their sustainability. Other Endowment Fund contributors include corporations, local organizations and senior participants.  SCOK recognizes significant donors on a main hallway wall with large wooden ship/boat steering wheels.
  • Having the general senior center on one floor and the Adult Day Care program on another floor in the same facility works well for “aging in place” transitions among the participants and maintains their ability to stay in their own home longer.
  • Kodiak has a very diverse population and SCOK’s staffing, board and participants reflect that diversity.

This is the center’s fourth accreditation.  Most of the center’s self-assessment committee were very impressed with the accreditation process and expressed that it was very in depth and they all learned new things about the operations at the center.  They were also glad to have the opportunity to give their input into the future development of SCOK.

The Center, Charlottesville, Virginia

The Center, formerly known as Senior Center, Inc., is in Albemarle County, Virginia. The City and County combined population in 156,000.  The county is historically rural but is rapidly urbanizing and is being marketed as a great place to retire.  Charlottesville is the home of the University of Virginia and The Center has grown with the University.

The Center was founded as a program within the University League, now the Junior League of Charlottesville in 1960.  In 1963 it became an independent 501(c)3 corporation and is governed by a Board of Directors, a majority of whom are senior center members. The Center has had three homes with the current facility designed for their use, built with no government support and opened in 1991 with no debt.  The Center takes pride in the fact that they have never received state, local or Federal government funding. The Board and Center have identified that they are outgrowing their facility. Six acres of land were purchased in the Belvedere neighborhood, 2 miles from the current location, plans have been developed and approved and they are in a capital campaign to open the Center at Belvedere in 2020.  A great deal of the strategic planning of the Center revolves around this move, including rebranding, building up programs, etc.

Most of the Centers members come from Albemarle County (59%) and Charlottesville (29%).  The Center has almost 2,000 members who are largely Caucasian (79%) and female (69%).  Their average daily attendance is listed as 260-430.

It is important to note the recent history of the City of Charlottesville with the incident of August 12, 2017 during a “Unite the Right” rally.  This incident and the racial tensions that were exposed have had a deep impact on the people of the area, including the senior center.  In response, there is a clear and purposeful effort to address diversity in the Center. They have built relationships with key people in the community and are actively engaged in the process of meaningful outreach. It should also be noted that the Center has used the self-assessment process as a vehicle to move the needle on this issue by who they asked to participate.

This is The Center’s fourth accreditation.

The Peer Reviewer noticed the following strengths of the senior center:

  • The Center’s leadership, including an engaged Board, Executive Director, staff and Council are top notch.
  • The Center’s engagement in the difficult issues affecting their community are commendable.
  • The Center is a leader in marketing.
    • Their rebranding, including the process, are a model.
    • Their marketing materials are excellent.
    • We especially liked the “By the Numbers” found in the annual report
    • The marketing slogans that have been developed including “Find Your Center” and “Share the Power of Healthy Aging”.
    • One noted practice is “Try it Out Tuesdays” where prospective members can attend programs at no cost.
  • The Center’s strategic planning process is unique and effective. The Center is strategic in all areas of planning and operations. They have developed a unique process for planning, goals and objectives that utilizes an overarching strategic framework that has broad input and identifies key strategic issues.
  • Evaluation is integrated into the Center and the results are used effectively for planning and marketing.
    • We especially liked the Impact Map, a visual logic model that demonstrates how they meet their mission including goals, resources, activities, productivity and impact.
  • The Center’s succession plan is a model.
  • The Center has applied the dimensions of wellness framework to program planning to ensure that programs are well rounded and have impact.

Involve others in your future goals and plans, instill pride in your community, strengthen your capacity through the national accreditation and the self-assessment process. Learn how the National Senior Center Standards and self-assessment process can help you achieve excellence at your center.  Learn more about NISC Accreditation.

The post Congratulations to three senior centers on achieving National Accreditation in November 2018 appeared first on NCOA.

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The following is a statement by Leslie Fried, Senior Director of the National Council on Aging (NCOA) Center for Benefits Access on the publication of proposed regulations, Modernizing Part D and Medicare Advantage to Lower Drug Prices and Reduce Out of Pocket Costs:

“The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is critically concerned about the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposal to allow Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans to utilize step therapy.

“Since the beginning of the Medicare drug benefit, Congress and CMS have accepted that certain seriously ill and medically compromised Medicare beneficiaries must have access to the drugs prescribed to them in order to adequately manage their condition. That’s one of the reasons why there are six protected classes in Part D. Requiring chronically ill and frail individuals to ‘fail first’ before allowing them to ‘step up’ to a prescribed medication could have major and life-threatening consequences for these individuals. Restricting treatment options places an emphasis on initial cost over efficacy, which undermines the basic principal of health care providers to ‘do no harm.’

“We have similar concerns about the proposal to allow Medicare Advantage plans to use step therapy for Part B drugs, including in the treatment of life-threatening conditions like cancer. CMS even acknowledges that it expects this change to lead to consumer pushback by including changes to the adjudication time periods for Medicare Advantage appeals for Part B treatments. This reliance on the appeals process is insupportable. The Medicare appeals process does not provide adequate safeguards to protect beneficiaries from these harmful and detrimental proposals. As a matter of fact, flaws in the Medicare Advantage appeals process were highlighted in a report by the HHS Office of Inspector General in September 2018.

“These two proposals will affect our frailest citizens who may not have the wherewithal to engage with a difficult appeals process – even if they know it’s an option. We urge CMS to reconsider and withdraw any proposals that will cause harm to the health and well-being of Medicare beneficiaries.”

The post NCOA Statement on Proposed Regulations Adding Step Therapy to Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D appeared first on NCOA.

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The Danvers Council on Aging/Danvers Senior Center is located in a residential community approximately 20 miles northeast of Boston, MA. The lasts Danvers census shows a population of 26,493 residents and the town is considered a bedroom community to Boston. It is a suburban in nature, but with the corresponding issues and problems of an urban setting due to its proximity to a major city. The census also reports that there are 6,419 residents sixty and above making up roughly 24% of town’s population. This is the senior center’s fourth accreditation.

The center was built approximately 20 years ago and houses both Senior and Social Services for the town. The building is in the down town area and next to a senior housing complex. The center is also adjacent to a park with athletic fields. It is easily located due to great use of signage leading to the facility. The building is a beautiful structure with great use of natural lighting, high ceilings, modern décor and furnishings combining for an inviting and welcoming atmosphere. There is ample accessible parking.

Approximately 135 individuals participate in daily activities including a congregate meal at noon, café luncheon, special interest classes scheduled throughout the day and extended evening hours, adult supportive day program, visitors seeking assistance on Medicare, personal or care-giving family matter, travel opportunities or volunteer opportunities and more.  Visit their Facebook page.

The Peer Reviewer notes the following strengths:

  • Great building that is well cared for with nice interior and exterior space. The building has excellent visibility in the community.
  • Good support from the town decision and policy makers, Council on Aging and Friends group.
  • The staff is very experienced, dedicated and enthusiastic with great ideas for programming and collaborations.
  • Broad-based programming that is constantly evolving.
  • Fantastic café program with high end food at a reasonable price. An excellent collaborative effort with a non-profit. This program is truly a model program!
  • Therapy dog available to those who want contact.
  • Social Model Adult Day program for persons with memory impairment is a great mix of inclusion and separate programming with a very creative, dedicated group of staff and volunteers
  • Extensive community connections and collaborations. It is apparent that a lot of effort has been placed by the staff to look for every opportunity to partner to bring new and improved services.
  • Very active volunteer program and a commitment to volunteers.
  • Expanded hours with creative programming ideas, love the summer cookouts that are open to the community!
  • Diverse funding sources
  • Great Evaluation Plan

This is the center’s fourth accreditation. The peer reviewer noted that participants interviewed were very positive about the staff, programs, building and overall experience at the senior center; volunteer were highly motivated and committed; staff were upbeat and welcoming; the Town Administrative, Council on Aging and Friends members were interested and involved in the center and all were proud of the center’s continued accreditation status.

Instill pride in your community, set future goals and strengthen your capacity through the national accreditation and the self-assessment process. Learn how the National Senior Center Standards and self-assessment process can help you achieve excellence at your center.

The post Congratulations to the Danvers Senior Center on achieving National Accreditation appeared first on NCOA.

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Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) begins on October 15th and runs through December 7th. We’ve compiled a list of key resources from NCOA and Medicare to assist you with understanding what’s going to change for your clients in 2019, and how you can prepare for your counseling sessions.

Check back often as new resources are added!

Important changes in to Medicare in 2019

Many changes will occur in the coming year that affect enrollment, coverage, and cost considerations in Medicare Advantage and Part D plans. These resources can help you understand what’s happening.

Part D cost information Counseling assistance Guidance from CMS

CMS has published new guidelines related to plan marketing, as well as enrollment and disenrollment into Medicare Advantage and Medicare cost plans.

Refresher on Medicare Advantage and Part D plans

New to counseling or just want to refresh your memory about the basics of MA and Part D plans? Our education site My Medicare Matters® can help.

  • Medicare Advantage basics
  • Part D prescription drug plan basics
  • Part D drug coverage rules
  • Learn about Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans, which are coordinated care plans designed to provide targeted care and limit enrollment to special needs individuals such as those with chronic conditions and dual eligibles.

Looking for something here that you don’t see or need further clarification on an enrollment issue? and let us help you find the answer.

The post Find all the Medicare AEP resources you need to counsel clients appeared first on NCOA.

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