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Affordable Care Act (ACA) Facts: Part 2 in a Series

Affordable Care Act (ACA) Facts: Follow this Series

There is a lot of speculation and discussion about what affect health care reform legislation, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), will have on seniors and more specifically, Medicare. We decided to do a series of blog posts about the facts; this is our second post, so please see Fact # 1 in a post dated, Feb 8, 2011.

Fact # 2 The ACA will reduce Medicare spending growth, extend Medicare solvency and is projected to reduce the budget deficit.

While Medicare spending will continue to grow, over the next 10 years the healthcare law will slow the overall rate of growth. Average spending per person will grow at about 2% per year, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) this is compared to the current rate of 4% per person per year. This slight decrease will be a result of reductions in waste, fraud and abuse.  The CBO also projects that the ACA will save Medicare about $400 billion over 10 years and will extend the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund until 2026.

What you need to know:

In 2011, the ACA will slow payment increases that are made to Medicare providers such as, hospitals, nursing homes and home health agencies. Please note that doctors are not included in that group. The ACA does not reduce payments to your primary care doctor.

Also in 2011, payments to Medicare Advantage (MA) will be reduced. Approximately 25% of seniors are enrolled in MA plans, HMOs or PPOs offered by private insurance companies, the other 75% have traditional Medicare. The ACA will gradually lower payments made to MA plans, which on average cost 13% more than original Medicare. Another change that ACA makes to Medicare Advantage (MA) plans is that those plans will not be able to charge you more than what you would pay if you were on original Medicare for services such as kidney dialysis, chemotherapy, or skilled nursing home care.

Because of these laid out in the Law, MA plans may cut some of the extra benefits they offer that are not covered by traditional Medicare and some may increase their premiums. Please note that MA plans cannot cut any basic benefits under Medicare, such as doctor visits and hospital care. You will also have the same right to switch out of your MA plan to original Medicare, the new law will not affect your right to Medicare benefits.

Another way that Medicare savings will occur according to statements in the Affordable Care Act, is for higher income individuals to pay higher prescription drug premiums. This will affect about 5% of Medicare recipients in 2011, single people with incomes above $85,000 and couples with adjusted gross incomes above $170,000.

The ACA states that in 2014 a Payment Advisory Board will be created. This board of experts will recommend specific ways to reduce Medicare costs without cutting benefits or increasing out-of-pocket costs.

Information in this blog was gathered from the Affordable Care Act,  Congressional Budget Office, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare and the National Council on Aging.

For more information check out the following links:

A brochure from Medicare:


Webpage from the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD):


Answers from the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a):


Straight Talk for Seniors from the National Council on Aging:


It’s getting hot out there!

It’s getting hot out there!

We are experiencing extreme temperatures all over New Jersey and surrounding areas this week. Here are some tips for staying cool and safe.

  • Drink plenty of water or other non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Make sure children and the elderly are drinking water, and ensure that persons with mobility problems have adequate fluids in easy reach.
  • If you do not have air conditioning, spend time in air-conditioned places such as libraries, malls¬†or other public buildings during the hottest hours of the day. Check with your municipality to see if cooling centers are available.
  • Wear loose and light-colored clothing.¬† Wear a hat when outdoors.
  • Avoid any outdoor activity during the hottest hours of the day. Reduce physical activity or reschedule it for cooler times of the day.
  • Don’t leave children, a frail elderly or disabled person, or pets in an enclosed car as temperatures can quickly climb to dangerous levels.
  • Talk to your health care provider about any medicine or drugs you are taking. Certain medications, such as tranquilizers and drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease, can increase the risk of heat-related illness.

Heat and humidity can become a serious health hazard, especially for children, elderly or those with chronic conditions, such as respiratory issues. Please remember to not only follow the above steps to keep yourself safe, but also check on family, friends and neighbors, again paying close attention to older adults, children and those who are ill.

Conditions caused by excessive heat include dehydration, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Heat exhaustion is a mild condition that may take days of heat exposure to develop. Someone suffering from heat exhaustion may have pale, clammy skin and sweat profusely. They may also feel tired, weak or dizzy and can suffer from headaches. Heatstroke can take just a few minutes to make someone very ill. A person with heatstroke will have dry, hot skin and a body temperature of 106 degrees or more, they will also have an absence of sweat and a rapid pulse. Someone suffering from heatstroke can become delirious or unconscious and needs immediate medical attention.

With temperature reaching over 100 this week, it is important to look for signs of heat related problems for yourself and your loved ones. It is also important to take action to prevent them, such as following the tips above.

 If you need more information or would like to find a cooling center in your area, please contact your municipality or your County Office on Aging.

Contact information for your County Office on Aging can be found at http://www.njfoundationforaging.org/services.html

To find a Senior Center in your area visit:


To get more information from NJ Division of Aging and Community Services visit http://www.nj.gov/health/senior/index.shtml or call 1-800-792-8820.

NJFA 12th Annual Conference!

On June 10, 2010 the New Jersey Foundation for Aging hosted its 12th Annual Conference. There were more than 200 people in attendance at this year’s conference. There were professionals from senior centers, County Offices on Aging, Senior Housing, Assisted Livings, and other community organizations. They all gathered at the Crowne Plaza in Monroe to listen to our morning keynote provided by Donna Butts at Generations United, which focused on shared sites and how they benefit the community through intergenerational services. The conference participants were enthusiastic about Donna’s presentation.

In the afternoon, the group received words of advice on advocating for seniors and updates regarding the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act from Bob Blancato. The crowd was encouraged by Bob’s words and asked terrific follow up questions regarding ways they can make a difference in their community.

The breakout sessions for the conference consisted of Music and Your Brain, a session by Dr. Concetta Tomaino on the effects of music therapy on those suffering from cognitive disorders such as Parkinsons, Alzheimer’s and stroke; Managing Chronic Disease featuring community programs which are finding new ways to help seniors with chronic illness through education; The Legal and Ethical Response to Elder Abuse, during which professionals from Adult Protective Services provided valuable information about how the system works, how to identify elder abuse and what legal and ethical dilemmas could be faced. Please stay tuned to the NJFA Blog for more details on all of these sessions and more.

NJFA would like to THANK all of our sponsors and vendors for the day: Novo Nordisk, Thomas and Theresa Berry Foundation, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NJ, Harmony Information Systems, The Wallerstein Foundation for the Improvement of Geriatric Life, Society on Aging of NJ, NJ Association of Area Agencies on Aging, NJ Association of Senior Center Directors, Roche Genetech, Francis E. Parker Memorial Home, CST Your Link to Life, Wedgewood Gardens, OceanFirst Bank, AMRamp, Heath Village, Visiting Physicians, Wells Fargo, GA Foods, Springpoint Foundation, Senior Care Management, Disability Rights NJ and Seniors4Kids.

Food Hardship, Do you have enough?

The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) recently released their analysis of survey data collected in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. ¬†In the breakdown of state data, the survey reveals that the highest rates of “food hardship” happen to be in the Southern parts of our country. When it comes to New Jersey’s congressional districts, the 10th district comes in at number 9 out of 436 districts. This was the highest by far compared to all other New Jersey congressional districts. The 10th district consists of towns in Essex, Hudson and Union county. Mostly, the 10th District is made up of Essex county towns such as Orange, West Orange, East Orange, South Orange, parts of Newark and parts of Montclair. The representative for NJ‚Äôs 10th Congressional District is Donald Payne.

With the New Jersey Elder Economic Security Index, we found that food was 11% of an elder’s budget. What that breaks down to is a monthly average of $234 spent of food for a single elder and $430 for a couple. Housing and healthcare are the highest costs for those 65 and over in NJ. However, programs like SNAP (Food Stamps) and Farmers Market Coupons, can help to save seniors a little money in one area (food costs) so that they aren’t deciding between paying their rent or mortgage versus eating. The FRAC study really highlights what we already now, many people in New Jersey (and throughout the country) don’t have a sufficient income to cover the necessities.

If you or someone you know need assistance, please contact your County Office on Aging, you can find a list at http://www.njfoundationforaging.org/services.html  or call the Food Stamp Hotline at 1-800-687-9512 or on the web at  http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/dfd/programs/foodstamps/ .

To view the entire FRAC report visit: http://www.frac.org/pdf/food_hardship_report_2010.pdf but here are some more national highlights and figures from the report:

The survey asked more than 530,000 people if in the past 12 months they were unable to buy enough food for themselves or their families. FRAC’s analysis provides a percentage of “food hardship” for the nation, states, Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA’s) and congressional districts. The data is from 2008 and 2009. Nationally, the survey shows that many people began having difficulty purchasing food for themselves and their families in mid-2008. The number of respondents that stated they did not have enough food jumped from 16.3% in the first quarter of 2008 to 19.5% in the last quarter of 2008. This coincides with the rise of the unemployment rate nationally, which was 6.9% in November of 2008. At that time food prices were also on the rise. By the fourth quarter of 2009 the rate of “food hardship” dropped to 18.5%, the report suggests this was due to falling food prices and by an increase in support programs such as SNAP (food stamps) which received a boost to match the increased enrollment as well as an additional boost from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Despite the drop, the reports writers caution the reader that this is not the best news; it still means that 1 out of 5 Americans does not have enough food.

When it came to ranking the 436 congressional districts in the US, a rank¬† of #1 means the highest food hardship rate, but again the report warns us that a ranking of 300th or 400th is still not good news, because the data really shows that food hardship is an overwhelming problem in our great nation. The writers go a step further to challenge congress to act on this national problem, stating it is a problem that is “demanding a solution”.

The 2010 Census is Coming!

The 2010 Census is Coming

What you need to know and Why you should care

 The 2010 Census questionnaires, a 10 question form, will be mailed to all households in the United States in March. By constitutional mandate, the Census is done every 10 years and has been done that way since 1790. The questionnaires are meant to capture data on all persons living in the United States, regardless of citizenship or documentation. The Census Bureau does not share the data collected with law enforcement, immigration, or other agency. Your privacy is important. By law they cannot make the data public for 72 years and they will never ask for your social security number. All census employees take an oath of nondisclosure and are sworn to protect your confidentiality. Violating this oath means a $250,000 fine or 5 years in prison, or both.

To preview the forms visit http://2010.census.gov/2010census/how/interactive-form.php

It is crucial that everyone is counted. Municipalities want to know who is living in their community, how many seniors, and how many children? It is important for several reasons; the census data serves as a basis for congressional districting and the distribution of federal money to the state, county and local governments. It is estimated that this data is responsible for approximately $400 Billion in Federal Aid annually. Congressional districting affects the number of seats NJ will have in the House of Representatives. Federal funding in New Jersey would benefit programs such as, hospitals, senior centers, job training, road, transportation and schools.

The Census Bureau wants to ensure participation by as many people as possible. The questionnaires will be mailed to all households beginning in March. However, it is estimated that as much as 38% of people will not fill them out. In an effort to increase participation, the Census Bureau is looking to hire 1.5 million people at $17.75 an hour, to go those residences that have not responded. These temporary employees called, Enumerators, will try to ensure that forms are being completed. April 1, 2010 is the target date that the Bureau will be looking to receive responses. If you’ve not sent yours in, you can expect to see a census worker at your door starting April 1st through July 2010.

If you want to know more about the 2010 Census visit www.census.gov

If you are interested in one of the temporary, part time positions available visit http://2010.census.gov/2010censusjobs/