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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Three steps to increase access to affordable prescription drugs

By Senator Amy Klobuchar, (Democrat- MN)

Modern medicine is performing miracles every day. From a new type of chemotherapy that helps a patient fight cancer to pain medications that provide relief to those suffering from arthritis, we are living in the midst of a "golden age" for pharmaceutical research and medical innovation. But we recently received a powerful reminder that not everyone has the same opportunity to benefit from today's medical marvels.

Last month, Turing Pharmaceuticals increased the price of Daraprim - a lifesaving drug used to treat an infection called toxoplasmosis - by more than 5,000 percent, from $13.50 per pill to $750. 

This case is particularly shocking, and after a public outcry, Turing ultimately agreed to lower the drug's price. But this isn't a new phenomenon, it's just the latest chapter in the history of a broken system. In 2011, Ovation Pharmaceuticals raised the price of Indocin IV - a critical medicine that helps save the lives of premature babies - by nearly 1,300 percent.

The sky-high cost of prescription drugs is hurting families in Minnesota and across the country. Kyle, a 25-year-old from Roseville with Type I Diabetes, is paying about $4,000 out of pocket each year for the insulin and pump he needs. 

That's a hefty $300 per month bill for someone just starting out in his career. Joyce, a retiree, lost her husband to complications from diabetes, but not before the family paid tens of thousands of dollars a year in prescription drug costs.

Kyle and Joyce are not alone. A recent study showed that one out of four Americans whose prescription drug costs went up said they were unable to pay their medical bills and one out of five were forced to skip doses of their medication. 

Seven percent of people even missed a mortgage payment due to the increase in their prescription drug costs. That's just not right, and our country should do better.

In the United States, we spend about 40 percent more per person each year on pharmaceuticals than any other country. Though many factors contribute to the prescription drug cost crisis we're facing, there are three big things that we can do to address the problem.

First, we need to ensure that consumers are not prevented from purchasing cheaper generic versions of the drugs they need because of harmful "pay-for-delay" deals that keep less expensive generic drugs from entering the market. 

These deals happen when a brand-name drug company pays a generic drug competitor not to sell its products. These "deals" stifle competition and keep affordable generics out of the hands of patients who need them. 

To crack down on this behavior, I have introduced bipartisan legislation with Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa that will give the Federal Trade Commission more power to block these anti-competitive agreements.

Our neighbors to the north in Canada often pay significantly less for prescription drugs than we do. In 2012, average prescription drug prices were half as expensive in Canada as they were in America. 

This staggering difference motivated me to introduce a bipartisan bill with Sen. John McCain of Arizona that would require the Food and Drug Administration to establish a personal importation program that would allow Americans to safely import a 90-day supply of prescription drugs from an approved Canadian pharmacy.

Finally, while Medicaid and the Department of Veterans Affairs can currently negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, the law bans Medicare from doing so. 

This is a bad policy for our seniors and for taxpayers. That is why I introduced legislation to allow Medicare to directly negotiate with drug companies for price discounts. 

My bill would save Medicare billions of dollars and help cut costs for more than 37 million seniors across the country.

Whether battling a serious disease or taking medication for a chronic condition, everyone deserves access to the prescription drugs that can help them live a long and healthy life. These commonsense solutions will help ensure that Americans have access to the drugs they need at prices they can afford.

Prescription Drug Costs Remain Atop the Public’s National Health Care Agenda, Well Ahead of Affordable Care Act Revisions and Repeal

28% of Public Report Asking Doctor about a Drug They Saw Advertised, and 12% Say Their Doctor Prescribed It

Few Workers Expect Raises if Employers Reduce Health Benefits to Avoid Cadillac Tax as Many Economists Predict

October 28, 2015--With some presidential candidates laying out details of their health care platforms, the cost of prescription drugs remains at the top of the public’s health care priority list for the President and Congress, the October Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds.

Making sure that high-cost drugs for chronic conditions, such as HIV, hepatitis, mental illness and cancer, are affordable for those who need them is the top priority, picked by more than three quarters of the public (77%). It was the top priority of Democrats, Republicans and independents alike, with at least seven in 10 of each group citing it.

The public ranks government action to lower prescription drug costs second, with 63 percent saying it is a top priority, including a majority of Republicans (56%).  That’s similar to the share of Republicans who say repealing the entire Affordable Care Act is a top priority (58%).

Other priorities picked by more than half of the public include assuring provider networks are adequate, protections against surprise out of network bills, and increasing price and quality transparency.

In contrast, issues specific to the Affordable Care Act, such as repealing several of its provisions or the entire law, fall lower on the list. For example, while the public generally opposes the so-called Cadillac tax on more expensive employer health plans, just 30 percent pick eliminating it as a top priority, ranking it 12th on the poll’s priority list.

Economists generally believe that employers will raise workers’ wages if they reduce the cost of their health benefits to avoid the Cadillac tax. The poll finds few people with employer-sponsored coverage expect that to happen. Just 20 percent think their wages would increase if their employer offered less generous health benefits, while three quarters (76%) think wages would not increase.

Favorable and unfavorable views of the ACA overall were tied this month, with 42 percent holding each view. Compared to when most of the law’s provisions were just taking effect in early 2014, more now say their impression of the law is based on their own experience (35% now, up from 23% in February 2014), while fewer say it is based on what they’ve seen in the media (30% now, down from 44% in February 2014).

The survey also probes the public’s experiences with drug advertisements. A large majority (82%) report they’ve seen or heard such advertising, and 28 percent say they have talked with a doctor about a specific drug they saw advertised.

One in eight adults (12%) say they were given a specific drug after asking a doctor about its advertisements;15 percent say the doctor recommended changes in their behavior or lifestyle;14 percent say the doctor recommended a different prescription drug, and 11 percent say the doctor recommended an over-the-counter option. These findings are similar to the results of previous Kaiser polling in 2008.

About half of the public (51%) say prescription drug advertising is mostly a good thing. Half (50%) also say drug advertisements do a good or excellent job of telling consumers which condition or disease the drug is designed to treat, and nearly as many say the ads do at least a good job telling consumers about the potential benefits (47%) and potential side effects (44%).

The poll also finds a majority (57%) believes that drug companies spend too much money advertising to patients. A similar majority says the same about money spent marketing to doctors (62%), and two thirds (67%) say drug companies have a lot of influence over what doctors prescribe to their patients. In addition, 89 percent of the public favor having the Food and Drug Administration review drug ads for accuracy and clarity before the public sees them, something it does not do now.

The poll was designed and analyzed by public opinion researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation and was conducted from October 14 to 20, 2015 among a nationally representative random digit dial telephone sample of 1,203 adults. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline (481) and cell phone (722).

The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample. For results based on subgroups, the margin of sampling error may be higher.

Candidates Must Prioritize Alzheimer’s Disease in Appeal to Voters

New Survey Shows Americans Want Elected Officials to Support Alzheimer’s Now

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 28, 2015 – A candidate’s relatability to voters and ability to understand the challenges they face make or break elections. Millions of American voters have had personal experience with Alzheimer’s disease and understand the dramatic toll the disease takes on families across the country.

As a result, according to a nationwide survey by the Alzheimer’s Association, voters view Alzheimer’s disease as a significant political priority for the 2016 congressional and presidential elections.
The nationwide voter survey indicates that: 1. 73 million voters have had a family member or close friend with Alzheimer’s disease 2.

More than one-third, or 52 million American voters have provided care or personal assistance to a relative, friend or neighbor with Alzheimer’s 3. 82 percent of voters nationwide are concerned about Alzheimer’s disease 4. 87 percent of voters feel unprepared or only somewhat prepared to meet care needs of a family member who develops Alzheimer’s disease 5.

The majority, 64 percent, of voters would be more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who has pledged to support a major national research effort to fight Alzheimer’s

“The survey findings indicate that 73 million American voters know someone with Alzheimer’s disease, so it’s not surprising that the majority of voters expect our government to make Alzheimer’s research and care a priority,” said Robert Egge, chief public policy officer and executive vice president of government affairs, Alzheimer’s Association.

“As presidential and congressional candidates look toward 2016, they should understand that voters want to know that they plan to address the Alzheimer’s disease and, specifically, what actions they intend to take when it comes to this mounting health crisis.”

Issues important to voters can be controversial but urgently addressing the Alzheimer’s crisis is not. Alzheimer’s disease is an important voter issue that is not controversial for any candidate. All candidates know this is a critical challenge to face; how they will differ is in their approach and plan to quickly address this already enormous and mounting health crisis. Presidential and congressional candidates, both Republicans and Democrats, have already begun to discuss the Alzheimer’s disease crisis while campaigning.

As Alzheimer’s crosses political lines, American voters are recognizing the disease as an issue that must be proactively addressed by those they are considering for office. “Prioritizing Alzheimer’s disease research funding is smart politics for a very important reason,” said Egge.

“Americans understand it’s the only way to change the deadly and expensive trajectory that is bearing down on so many American families.”

Alzheimer's is already America's most expensive disease, costing the country more each year than cancer or heart disease. Alzheimer’s disease also remains the only cause of death among the nation’s top 10 that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed.

Today, Medicare spends nearly one in five dollars on people with Alzheimer’s but, by midcentury; the government will spend nearly one in three dollars on the disease, which encompasses 31 percent of Medicare's budget, a nearly twofold increase.

The latest research reveals more than 28 million baby boomers are expected to develop Alzheimer’s between now and midcentury, dramatically increasing already overwhelming costs further—for both voters and the government.

For more information about the voter survey, visit ### Alzheimer’s Association® The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. For more information, visit

AARP Brain Health Survey Reveals Nearly Half of People Are Not Doing the Most Important Activities to Support Brain Health New Survey Results Released with the Launch of the Global Council on Brain Health

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In AARP's latest survey on brain health, it found that although virtually every adult age 40 and over (98%) believes it is important to maintain or improve their brain health, only about half (56%) are doing one of the two most important activities to support their brain health—engaging in exercise and eating a healthy diet. 

According to a 2011 study by the Mayo Clinic and a 2010 study published in the Nature Reviews Neuroscience Journal, engaging in aerobic exercise regularly and eating a healthy diet are the two most important activities to maintain and improve brain health. 

To help empower people to maintain and improve their cognitive health, AARP is launching the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH)—an independent collaborative of scientists, doctors, scholars and policy experts. This collaborative will provide trusted information on what actions people can take to support their brain health through quarterly white papers, scientific reviews and other research.

"It's clear that people want to know how to keep their brains active and healthy as they age, but they need a trusted source that can help them make sense of all the latest developments in brain health science," saidSarah Lock, AARP Senior Vice President, Policy, Research and International Affairs. 

"The Global Council on Brain Health will help people understand what real-life approaches work best and empower them to live brain-healthy lifestyles."

The GCBH is an independent collaborative convened by AARP working together with Age UK—the United Kingdom's largest charity dedicated to helping everyone make the most of later life—that will address a critical social issue and help people live their best lives. 

The collaborative will build on the Institute of Medicine's Cognitive Aging report from April 2015, which provided a basis for understanding the aging brain and described opportunities for actions. 

Members are eminent experts from leading research institutions working in the fields of neuroscience and geriatrics who will address the full range of factors that can impact brain health and examine key priority issue areas—such as physical exercise, mental engagement, stress levels, and medications and supplements.

Monday, October 26, 2015

10 Extraordinary Discounts People Age 50 And Above Should Know About From Electronics to Entertainment, AARP Members Can Access a Variety of Everyday Savings10 SAa

October 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Many AARP members already know of the discounts available to them on travel-related goods and services, such as car rentals, hotels, vacation packages and cruises. 

However, they might be surprised to learn they qualify for additional discounts on everyday costs, such as groceries, car maintenance and movie tickets.

"AARP members often tell us they enjoy the popular travel and dining discounts that are available to them," saidAngela Jones, senior vice president, business development and lifestyle products at AARP Services, Inc. "In fact, since 

Denny's launched their promotion in 2010, AARP members have utilized the discount more than 48 million times."

However, they might not know they are missing out on additional opportunities to save every day, Jones added. With an AARP membership, Americans 50 and over can unlock the potential to save on electronics, concerts, pet insurance plans, shipping costs and even regular car maintenance.

In addition to popular travel offers, AARP members can save on the following products and services:

1.      Movie Tickets: Regal Entertainment Group offers AARP members up to 25 percent off Regal movie tickets as well as $3.00 off a small or larger-size popcorn and soft drink combo.
2.     E-readers and Books: AARP members save 10 percent on Amazon Kindle e-readers, 50 percent on a selection of Kindle eBooks and 10 percent on a selection of print and audio books on from popular genres such as romance, mystery, thriller, and historical fiction.
3.     Car Maintenance: By presenting their AARP membership card at time of service, AARP members pay just$17.99 every day for an oil change, tire rotation and maintenance inspection at any Monro Muffler Brake & Service or Mr. Tire location. They also save 10 percent on auto repairs at any RepairPal certified shop.
4.    Shoes: AARP members save 20 percent on their entire purchase at any Reebok and Rockport Outlet Store or on
5.     Dining: AARP members receive 15 percent off every day at Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's Italian Grill and Bonefish Grill;  15 percent off the entire check at Denny's; 10 percent off at any of the 500 Landry's Inc. restaurants nationwide, including McCormick & Schmick's, Claim Jumper, Chart House and more.
6.    Shipping: AARP members receive 15 percent off eligible products and services and 5 percent off domestic and international UPS® shipping services when using their AARP membership card at over 4,500 retail The UPS Store locations.
7.     Pet Insurance: Pet owners save 10 percent or more insurance plans with Petplan pet insurance when they sign up online. They also receive up to a $35 Petplan Visa® Prepaid Card (restrictions may apply) to help with pet wellness expenses like flea/tick preventives, vaccines, dental cleanings and more.
8.    Grocery and Household Items: AARP members receive instant savings on featured products by swiping their AARP membership card at select Meijer, Family Dollar and Fred's Super Dollar locations, and earn 10 percent back on every order of delicious foods delivered right to their door by Schwan's Home Service.
9.    Concerts and Shows: AARP members save 25 percent or more when buying event tickets in groups of four from Ticketmaster, and save up to 30 percent on Cirque du Soleil shows.
10. Mobile Phone Service: AARP members can choose from a variety of wireless service providers, including Consumer Cellular, AT&T and Cricket Wireless. Consumer Cellular offers AARP members a 5 percent discount on monthly service charges and a 30 percent discount on eligible accessories, AT&T offers AARP members a 10 percent discount on the monthly service charge of qualifying wireless plans and a 15 percent discount on eligible accessories, and Cricket Wireless offers a $20 mail-in rebate for each line of service with the purchase of a phone.

AARP memberships cost just $16 a year and can often be 
recouped by using just a few of the many discounts available.

To take advantage of any discount or service offered to AARP members, or to find out about all the ways AARP members can save, download the free AARP Member Advantages Offer Finder mobile app for iOS and Android devices or visit

50-Somethings Advised to Calculate Their 'Long-Term Care Savings Gap'

If it's too big, it jeopardizes retirement dreams, but there are options

October 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Most Americans are poorly prepared to pay for long-term care costs, but there's a two-step fix, according to ACSIA Partners, a leading long-term care insurance agency. 

It starts by learning if there's a gap, and how big, between your ability to pay and your likely future expenses.

For most Americans there is indeed a gap. According to a May 2015, report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), 52 percent of households age 55 and older have no savings for retirement (let alone long-term care). 

If you're among the 48 percent with some retirement savings, you may be prepared to cover some, but not all, of your probable LTC tab.

What to do?

"Step one," says Denise Gott, CEO of ACSIA Partners, "is to see if you have a gap, and how big." Doing so can take less than five minutes. 

For a rough estimate, Gott recommends entering a few facts into a calculator provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

Here's a sample calculation for a 52-year old woman planning to retire in Florida, who could afford to set aside$300 (earning 4 percent interest) per month starting now. 

She would have a long-term care savings gap of$652,184, based on $839,263 in projected care costs in Florida, for life remaining after age 65, minus $187,079in accumulated savings, as determined by government data and assumptions.

If the woman were married, there would likely be a similar gap for her partner.

Once you know you've got a gap, "the next step is just as simple and almost as quick," says Gott. "Ask a state-certified long-term care agent to help you explore your options." 

This can be done by phone or online. An in-person meeting is optional.

ACSIA Partners offers state-certified agents covering all parts of the country. 

To get in touch with one, just go to the company's website -- -- and submit an inquiry form indicating your state of residence.

ACSIA Partners LLC -- -- is one of America's largest and most experienced long-term care insurance solution agencies with hundreds of agents serving all states. 

The company is also a co-founder and sponsor of the "3in4 Need More" campaign, run by the 3in4 Association, which encourages Americans to form a long-term care plan.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Growing Old Can Be Risky Business

Elder abuse experts warn of age-associated financial vulnerability
Newswise, October 21, 2015 — Managing money can be difficult at any age. For older adults, changes in physical condition and life circumstances can lead to changes for the worse in financial behavior, putting their well-being in danger. Now those changes have been given a name: age-associated financial vulnerability.

Two experts in elder abuse coin the term and explain the concept in an opinion article published in the Oct. 13 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. They also call for research to identify and help older adults at risk from age-associated financial vulnerability, or AAFV for short.

They define the condition as “a pattern of financial behavior that places an older adult at substantial risk for a considerable loss of resources such that dramatic changes in quality of life would result.” To be considered AAFV, this behavior also must be a marked change from the kind of financial decisions a person made in younger years.

“For example, if an older adult gives his or her neighbor $10,000, this many be a sign of AAFV. However, if the older adult has given large sums of money to those in need throughout his or her adult lifetime, then the $10,000 gift in old age may not represent a change in behavior, and thus may not represent AAFV,” explains Duke Han, PhD, co-author of the study and associate professor of behavioral sciences at Rush University Medical Center

Not the same old problem

The authors note that AAFV is a condition different from age-related cognitive impairment, including dementia, which already is recognized as putting older adults at risk of causing themselves financial harm. Since recent studies have indicated that “cognitively intact older adults” may become financially vulnerable, they write, “cognitive impairment is not necessary for AAFV.”

Instead, the trouble can lie in the many ordinary changes brought about by aging. “Functional changes such as impaired mobility, vision and hearing loss, and the cost of multiple medications can directly influence vulnerability in older adults,” Han says.

Other potential contributing factors may include cognitive changes, such as a lessened ability to discern a person’s trustworthiness, and psychosocial problems, including loneliness or depression. 

In addition, the finance industry has identified older adults as an untapped market, which can lead to them being overwhelmed by the “dizzying array of financial products and services,” according to Han and co-author Mark Lachs, MD, MPH, professor of medicine and co-chief of geriatrics and gerontology at Weill Medical College in New York.

“In my discussions with Dr. Lachs about our experiences with the heart-breaking effects of financial vulnerability among our older patients, we decided that naming the problem may be a useful first step to addressing the issue,” Han says.

Protecting the vulnerable from the villainous.

Han and Lachs believe it’s important to understand AAFV as a condition in order to protect older adults who exhibit signs of it, distinct from behavior brought on by cognitive impairment or problems with financial judgement that preceded older age. In particular, AAFV can put a person at risk for financial exploitation: 

Han notes that financial abuse is one of the most common forms of elder abuse, and is the most frequent form of perpetrator-related elder abuse in Illinois.
“This is a growing problem since we have a large aging population with no ways to determine who is at risk and why,” Han warns. “We need more screening, and more interventional programs and strategies to address this issue. We also need to determine what the role and responsibility is of physicians in protecting their patients.”

Study compares traditional and modern views of aging

October 21, 2015 – Traditional societies may see the aging process in a more positive light than modern societies, according to a Cornell researcher in a recent study published in the Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Science.

“There have been anecdotal reports and theoretical reasoning that people in traditional societies look at aging more favorably,” said Corinna Löckenhoff, associate professor of human development in the College of Human Ecology and associate professor of gerontology in medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City. 

However, this is the first study of aging perceptions to gather quantitative data and to use the same questions across modern and traditional societies, Löckenhoff said.

In the study, the researchers showed participants a photo of a young person and a photo of the same person that had been digitally altered to make him or her look older. 

Participants were then asked a series of questions to assess their attitudes toward aging. These questions tested such perceptions of aging as respect received (whose opinion is more respected?); wisdom; life satisfaction (who is more satisfied with their life?); memory (who is more forgetful?); and new learning. 

In response, participants were asked to point at the older or younger face.

The researchers found that Tsimané Amazonian forager-farmers viewed old people as having better memories than young people, while people in Poland and the United States viewed the young as having better memories. 

They found that across the different societies there was consensus that older people are more respected and perceived as wiser than younger people, and that in general, participants perceived aging as more detrimental to women than men, Löckenhoff said. But Tsimane’ participants differed from their industrial counterparts in perceptions of memory. 

While the participants from industrialized nations held negative beliefs of aging and memory, the Tsimane’ people felt the elderly had better memories.

“There are reasons to think that traditional societies would have more positive beliefs about aging and memory,” Löckenhoff said. Modern societies no longer rely on oral traditions where older people serve as repositories of culture and knowledge, she said, whereas traditional societies still value experience-based knowledge.

The findings are important for traditional societies to ensure their attitudes toward older adults do not suffer as they increasingly modernize, Löckenhoff said. And for modern societies, the findings shed light on how culture and context can have an influence on the way that aging is seen and that in turn can affect how people age, she said.

For example, there is evidence that stereotypes about aging affect older people. This phenomenon is known as stereotype threat, where negative stereotypes about certain groups – such as the notion that the elderly have poor memories – can affect performance. “Older people could be doing better if they were not pulled down by stereotype threat,” Löckenhoff noted.
Next steps in this research will be to test if older people’s memories are actually working better in the Tsimané culture and if other traditional societies show similar patterns, she added.

Löckenhoff is co-author of the paper with Piotr Sorokowski, Tomasz Frackowiak and Agnieszka Sorokowska, all at the University of Wroclaw, Poland. While the Polish group did all the fieldwork and collected data, Löckenhoff provided the theoretical underpinnings and study-design considerations.

The study was funded by the Polish National Science Centre and the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education. 

$500K Grant Gives 50 Shreveport Seniors a Place to Call Home

Pointe Place resident Kay Bergeron welcomed guests today as part of the grand-opening celebration of the $5.5 million affordable housing community in the Shreve City area of ShreveportLouisiana

Oct. 21, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Five years in the making, South Pointe Place opened today in the Shreve City area of Shreveport, Louisiana. It will provide 50 units of South affordable housing for very low-income senior citizens.
In 2013, the $5.5 million apartment complex, developed by Volunteers of America, was awarded a $500,000 Affordable Housing Program (AHP) grant from Red River Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) that was applied to construction costs.
A significant need for affordable housing exists in the area. A 2013 market study showed that 33 percent of Shreveport-Bossier City seniors qualified as very low-income, with annual incomes of less than $15,000 annually.
South Pointe Place resident Kay Bergeron said she and her neighbors are thankful for the community.
"This place was created on paper and became a dream come true for those of us that live here," she said. "I have made a lot of friends here. I walk every morning, gather in the community room and have a place of my own to go to at the end of the day."
Jannease Seastrunk, vice president and CRA officer at Red River Bank, said her institution is pleased to be a part of the solution for low-income seniors in Shreveport.
"Red River Bank is woven into the fabric of this community," Ms. Seastrunk said. "We are so pleased to support our friends and neighbors through the South Pointe Place project. It will make a difference for residents and staff alike by establishing a community for a vulnerable population and by creating local jobs."
The 50 units each offer a one-bedroom/one-bathroom layout with upgraded appliances. The three-story building, located on 3.3 acres, also includes onsite laundry facilities, community room, computer/arts-and-crafts room, and The Ballington Center, which offers activities and medical supervision for adults with physical or mental limitations.
Volunteers of America North Louisiana President & CEO Chuck Meehan expressed his organization's commitment to providing affordable housing for senior citizens.
"Volunteers of America is grateful for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas' support of our senior adults and disabled residents, as well as of our community," he said. "With their help, we will continue to serve those who need us the most."
FHLB Dallas, in partnership with its member financial institutions, like Red River Bank, in 2015 awarded more than $7.4 million in AHP grants to 32 projects, primarily within its District of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas. The funding will result in the creation or rehabilitation of 965 housing units.
Greg Hettrick, vice president and director of Community Investment at FHLB Dallas, said members are able to make a real impact in their communities through the AHP.
"A key component of FHLB Dallas' mission is to serve the affordable housing needs of our members' communities," he said. "We are pleased to support Red River Bank in this project that will serve seniors, some of whom may have no other place to turn."
FHLB Dallas annually returns 10 percent of its profits in the form of AHP grants to the communities served by its member institutions. AHP grants fund a variety of projects, including home rehabilitation and modifications for low-income, elderly, and special needs residents; down payment and closing cost assistance for qualified first-time homebuyers; and the construction of low-income, multifamily rental communities and single-family homes. 
July 2015 marked the 25th anniversary of the Affordable Housing Program. Since the program's inception, FHLB Dallas has awarded more than $237 million in AHP grants to help approximately 44,000 families obtain safe, affordable, and quality housing. 
About Red River Bank 
Red River Bank is a full service community bank headquartered in Alexandria, Louisiana. Red River Bank was chartered in 1998 in Rapides Parish and began operating its first banking center in Alexandria in 1999. Red River Bank offers consumer and commercial banking services and products, mortgage lending services, and investment services.
About the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas
The Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas is one of 11 district banks in the FHLBank System created by Congress in 1932. FHLB Dallas, with total assets of $42.6 billion as of June 30, 2015, is a member-owned cooperative that supports housing and community development by providing competitively priced loans and other credit products to approximately 865 members and associated institutions in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, andTexas. For more information, visit our website at

Monday, October 19, 2015

Long Term Care Insurance Association Calls For Candidates To Address Pending Tsunami Of Care Needs

October 19, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Millions of Americans are unprepared for the consequences of living longer lives.  

November marks Long Term Care Awareness Month, an ideal time for policy-makers and consumers to focus on the topic, according to a national trade group.
"We are facing a tsunami of care needs for aging Americans," declares Jesse Slome, director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI). 
"What's our nation's plan for the day when one in four Americans will be over age 60?"  

While the need for long term care services is not limited to the elderly, those ages 65 and older are 10 times more likely to need care according to AALTCI.

Established in 2001 and recognized by Congress, Long Term Care Awareness Month is the ideal time for policy-makers and individuals to focus on the issue.  

"We are calling on each Presidential candidate to recognize the importance of this issue; one that will impact millions of Americans and their families," Slome adds.

"People mistakenly believe that long-term care is covered by health insurance or Medicare," shares Bill Naylon, President of MedAmerica Insurance Company, a leading long-term care insurance carrier.  

"Creating awareness is the first step in assuring that people have a long term care plan in place. Elected officials and those running for office can play an important role in starting the discussion to heighten awareness and drive solutions."

"There is already a huge financial, emotional and physical strain on individuals and families who must pay for or provide care for aging spouses and parents," Slome notes. 

Total national spending for long term care services exceeds $300 billion annually according to AALTCI, with Medicaid covering just over half of total expenditures.

"Concern about financial security during retirement resulted in the creation of 401(k) and IRA retirement savings vehicles and today 50 million Americans participate in one of these plans," Slome shares.  

"Now we need to address long-term care."

The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance is a national advocacy group.   To learn more about long term care insurance planning, read six online consumer guides available on the organization's website at

During November individuals interested on obtaining long term care insurance costs or information can request no-obligation comparisons from leading insurers by calling AALTCI at 818-597-3227.  

HomeAdvisor Releases Aging-in-Place Report

Report Underscores Need For More Resources for Professionals to Educate Homeowners

Oct. 18, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Today HomeAdvisor, a leading nationwide home services marketplace, released an Aging-in-Place Report that analyzes the trends related to how homeowners modify their homes to ensure they can remain there safely, comfortably, and independently as long as possible. 

The Report was prepared by Marianne Cusato, HomeAdvisor's housing expert and professor of practice at University of Notre Dame's School of Architecture, and is comprised of data submitted to as well as results from a recent survey* conducted among HomeAdvisor's network of pre-screened home professionals. 

HomeAdvisor released the Aging-in-Place Report in collaboration with the National Aging in Place Council.   

"The U.S. Census Bureau reports the number of residents 65 or older will grow to nearly 73 million in 2030 and at least 90 percent of those homeowners intend to remain permanently in their home," said Cusato. 

"While the report revealed a small number of homeowners are already planning ahead, the majority may benefit from the help of informed home service professionals."

Highlights of the 2015 Aging-in-Place Report:

Over one-half of homeowners who hire a professional for an aging-related home improvement are younger than 65 years old, with 10 percent younger than 50 years old.

When hiring a professional to complete an aging-in-place project, 73 percent of the time homeowners make contact with the professional themselves. The daughter is second mostly likely to contact the professional and does so five times more often than the son.

When technology is installed in the home, more than one-half of homeowners request home automation systems (e.g. security systems, lights, thermostats), 14 percent purchase assistive technology (e.g. automatic countertops and shelves), and 10 percent install in-home health monitoring (e.g. heart rate tracking and fall monitoring).

Seventy four percent of professionals feel prepared to discuss the financial benefits available to homeowners to help them age in place.

"The report shows most professionals are prepared to talk to homeowners about aging-in-place improvements but few are ready with additional resources," said Cusato. 

"Seventy two percent of professionals don't have marketing materials directed towards aging in place, over two-thirds are unfamiliar with the term 'Universal Design', and 83 percent are unaware of Medicare and Medicaid benefits."

The Aging-in-Place Report also uncovered the most common projects related to aging in place. 

The projects most frequently requested include adding grab bars in the home, building a disability ramp, installing a lift on the stairs, and adding a personal alert system.

For the complete Aging-in-Place Report, click here. For more information about HomeAdvisor,  
About HomeAdvisor

*Data included in the Aging-in-Place Report is based on the number of service requests submitted to from August 3, 2014-August 3, 2015; and a survey conducted by Survey Monkey on behalf of HomeAdvisor. The survey was conducted among 237 professionals from August 21, 2015-August 30, 2015, of whom 187 reported completing aging-in-place tasks for homeowners.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Consumer Groups, Coalition, Rep. Waxman Call for an End to Forced Arbitration in Nursing Home Contracts Nursing Homes Often Push Residents to Sign Away Their Right to Hold Them Accountable in Court for Abuse or Neglect

WASHINGTON, Oct. 16, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) should prevent nursing homes from taking away the legal rights of their residents through the use of forced binding arbitration, said consumer and public interest organizations including AARP, members in the Fair Arbitration Now coalition, and former U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman.

The organizations submitted formal comments to CMS along with more than 50,000 individual petition signatures urging the agency to eliminate the use of forced arbitration by nursing home facilities that receive federal funding through the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Additionally, 27 members of Congress submitted a letter to CMS this morning calling for a strong rule to prohibit forced arbitration in nursing home agreements. Today is the final day for public comments on CMS's pending update of nursing home standards.

Forced arbitration clauses are unfair terms that block seniors and their loved ones from accessing the court system if they are the victims of severe neglect, abuse, serious injury or death at the facility. 

Such forced arbitration clauses, where residents surrender their legal rights before any disputes arise, often prevent families of those abused or neglected in nursing homes from holding the companies accountable through the civil justice system. 

Instead, they are pushed into private, biased arbitration forums where consumers are at a disadvantage and where there are no appeals, no accountability and no transparency. 

On a call with reporters today, Waxman—who was a leader in passing the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act in 1987 after a spate of revelations about substandard care in many nursing facilities—called for an end to forced arbitration in nursing home contracts.

"Admitting a loved one to a nursing home is already an emotionally difficult moment in a person's life. Adding fine print to the resident forms that deny patients and their families their fundamental right to hold the corporations that run these facilities accountable is unconscionable," he said. 

"As an original author of the Federal Nursing Home Reform Act, I strongly urge the CMS to limit the use of pre-dispute forced arbitration clauses. No one should be forced to accept denial of justice as a price for the care their loved ones deserve."

In July, CMS proposed new rules for nursing homes that receive federal funding that acknowledged the burdens of arbitration clauses on residents harmed by nursing homes, but neglected to put an end to the practice. 

CMS proposed small revisions that unfortunately would have little effect on nursing homes' ability to force residents to unwittingly forfeit their rights to go to court if a dispute arises and could make protecting nursing home residents from harm even more difficult. 

The groups called upon the agency to ensure that any arbitration is truly voluntary by preventing its use before a dispute occurs. The parties could still agree to arbitration, but only after a dispute occurs.

The Fair Arbitration Now coalition is supported by than 70 consumer, labor, legal and community organizations.

Included below are quotes from AARP, Alliance for Justice, American Association for Justice, National Association of Consumer Advocates, National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care and Public Citizen:

David Certner, Legislative Counsel & Legislative Policy Director at AARP: "AARP recommends that CMS revise its proposal so that arbitration agreements in long-term care facilities are permitted only when the agreement to arbitrate is made after a dispute arises. This ensures that residents are knowingly and voluntarily entering these agreements.  Mandatory binding arbitration agreements are completely inappropriate where health and life are at risk."

Kyle Barry, Director of Justice Programs at Alliance for Justice: "Imagine having a loved one abused or neglected by the very place entrusted with their care, only to find out that you can't hold the institution accountable in court. That's what forced arbitration does to vulnerable senior citizens and their families."

Linda Lipsen, CEO of the American Association for Justice: "Too often seniors are abused or neglected in nursing homes, and rather than fix the problem, the companies shield themselves from being held accountable with the use of forced arbitration. CMS can make nursing homes safer by ensuring they can be held responsible through the civil justice system if they mistreat their residents."

Christine Hines, Legislative Director of National Association of Consumer Advocates: "Terms that require residents to resolve disputes in secret forced arbitration proceedings help nursing homes to keep serious health and safety violations under wraps for too long. On the other hand, restoring residents' access to justice will increase nursing homes' incentive to provide better care to residents, which ultimately will save health care costs."

Marybeth Williams, Public Policy Associate at the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care: "One of the most critical improvements CMS could make in the federal nursing home regulations would be to ban the use of pre-dispute arbitration agreements by facilities. In our experience, such agreements never are good for consumers and never are made on a consumer's initiative.  Instead, they are drafted by facilities and signed by consumers who feel that they do not have the freedom to say 'No.' Unlike disputes with a bank or cell phone provider, disputes that arise in nursing homes often involve catastrophic events such as pressure sores, malnutrition, dehydration, asphyxiation, sexual assault, and death. Residents and their representatives cannot reasonably foresee such tragedies occurring when these agreements are presented to them. CMS's proposed language would be ineffective and, worse yet, would suggest that pre-dispute arbitration agreements are approved by the agency. CMS must make the right choice for residents and ban the use of pre-dispute, arbitration agreements by nursing homes once and for all."

Susan Harley, Deputy Director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch Division: "Nursing home admission often takes place under stressful conditions like the aftermath of a recent hospital stay or medical emergency. It is unfair that in the midst of such challenging circumstances, residents and their family members are presented with nonnegotiable documents which likely contain forced arbitration clauses requiring residents to surrender their right to bring legal claims against the facilities in court if something goes wrong. Such clauses should be banned and CMS has the power to do it. We eagerly await their action."

Wish of a Lifetime 82-Year-Old Shares the Experience with Brother, Forming Closer Relationship

Oct. 16, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Randy Ashcraft and her big brother, George Nale, are siblings who have shared many experiences together over the years and continue to strengthen their close relationship with each other.

Randy's Wish of a Lifetime to ride in a hot air balloon with George allowed them to share a special experience together recently after talking about it for 20 years. 

They used to watch hot air balloons float over George's front porch in Morgan Hill, dreaming about someday taking a hot air balloon ride together.

"I have wanted to do this for a long time. It was so beautiful," Randy said of their trip soaring over California's wine country.

Randy spent many years teaching school to elementary and special needs students. She loved working with children with special needs as she cared for her own daughter with Down syndrome. 

Like so many, Randy has faced obstacles throughout her life losing; her husband and a brother and having her leg amputated for health reasons. 

Losing her leg has limited her from participating in many physical activities, but mentally she is strong and forges new relationships in her senior living community greeting new residents, volunteering for the book club and recently starting a Bunco group. Randy, 82, is a resident of Brookdale San Jose.

In 2010, Brookdale Senior Living and Wish of a Lifetime formed a partnership to provide a helping hand in making some of the dreams of Brookdale's residents come true. 

To request a Wish, residents fill out a Wish application explaining an experience they would like to have fulfilled and how that experience relates to one or more dimensions of Brookdale's Optimum Life® platform. Optimum Life cultivates whole-person wellness through fulfillment in the six key dimensions: purposeful, emotional, physical, social, spiritual and intellectual. 

Since the partnership's inception, more than 600 Brookdale seniors have had their Wish granted.

For more information about Brookdale and Wish of a Lifetime visit and

Meals on Wheels America Goes Live with Abila netFORUM

Enterprise™ Leading cloud-based association management system to help national organization support and empower local Meals on Wheels' programs across the country

 Oct. 16, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Abilathe leading provider of software and services to associations, nonprofits, and government entities, announced today Meals on Wheels America is using Abila netFORUM Enterprise™ to enhance easy access to data, resources, and opportunities to self-service for its community-based members across the country that are dedicated to addressing senior isolation and hunger.

In February, Meals on Wheels America launched its rebranding and name change (from Meals on Wheels Association of America), a foundational step to building the capacity needed to serve the rapidly growing demand for Meals on Wheels' services in America. The netFORUM Enterprise implementation is a core component to the overall organization transformation.

"We needed a centralized system that could grow with our organization and bring our members along the journey with the changes we are making to help us all better achieve our mission," said Don Miller, chief financial and administrative officer for Meals on Wheels America. "netFORUM Enterprise provides the best combination of ease-of-use and flexibility. We now have a system that makes life easier on the internal staff and delivers more value to the local member communities."

Key benefits of netFORUM Enterprise for Meals on Wheels America:  

  • Centralized core system that can manage all data in one place
  • Integrations with other key member management systems
  • Improves and documents new business processes to the system workflows
  • Flexibility for internal staff
Abila partnered with benel Solutions, a certified Abila Implementation Partner, to fully implement the netFORUM Enterprise system for Meals on Wheels America. benel Solutions executed on the collective strategy of providing an enhanced membership process with a more robust correlation to grants and fundraising, and opportunities for members to self-service.

Abila netFORUM Enterprise™ is an open and extensible cloud-based platform that allows for customizations that can scale to support specific needs of associations.

About Meals on Wheels America (formerly Meals On Wheels Association of America)
Meals on Wheels America is the oldest and largest national organization supporting the more than 5,000 community-based programs across the country that are dedicated to addressing senior isolation and hunger. This network exists in virtually every community in America and, along with more than two million staff and volunteers, delivers the nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks that enable America's seniors to live nourished lives with independence and dignity. By providing funding, leadership, education, research and advocacy support, Meals on Wheels America empowers its local member programs to strengthen their communities, one senior at a time. For more information, or to find a Meals on Wheels provider near you, visit

About Abila
Abila is the leading provider of software and services to associations and nonprofit organizations that help them make better decisions, execute with greater precision, increase engagement, and generate more revenue. With Abila solutions association and nonprofit professionals can use data and personal insight to make better financial and strategic decisions, enhance member and donor engagement and value, operate more efficiently and effectively, and increase revenue to better activate their mission. Abila combines decades of industry insight with technology know-how to serve more than 8,000 customers across North America. For more information, please

About benel Solutions

benel Solutions is a full service technology partner for associations and nonprofits including Association Management Software implementation and customization services, consulting, upgrade audit and management, software development, integrations, support and documentation around your data and digital strategy.  benel Solutions understands both the business processes and technology that associations and nonprofits need to be successful and pride themselves on support and accessibility to their customers and partners.  benel Solutions is an industry leading systems integrator in the Association Management Software (AMS) space and is a company founded by executives from both the business and technology sides of the industry.  They are the fastest growing and one of the most well balanced implementation firms serving the association and nonprofit markets today.