*Our man Teddy is holding the big yellow/white umbrella. -s

500 ADAPT disability activists from the county surround the US Department of Health & Human Services in the pouring rain. They demonstrate in support of the thousands of people with disabilities and older Americans who continue to be unnecessarily forced into and kept in nursing homes and other institutions because of the inaction and development of barrier-ridden regulations by HHS and the Bush Administration.

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Photo: Under yellow & white umbrella is Teddy Fitzmaurice. 7873 Woodingham, West Bloomfield, MI
Susan Fitzmaurice

Disabled Soapbox - everything I do under 1 roof!

Teddy's Ts - Messages of Empowerment

In-Home Health Care Via Wireless Networks, NSF Awards $1.5M For Study

Rice University, The Methodist Hospital Research Institute and Technology For All (TFA) have received a $1.5 million federal grant for research in east Houston that will examine ways to provide novel, low-cost, personalized health monitoring to people with chronic diseases living in working-class communities.

The researchers plan to examine how patients with chronic diseases use inexpensive handheld wireless monitoring devices called Blue Boxes, to participate actively in their own medical treatment. The National Science Foundation (NSF) grant will pay for the development and testing of the Blue Boxes and the wireless broadband network that will connect the devices to a central source for analysis.

Bush signs falls prevention bill

President Bush late last week signed the Safety of Seniors Act, a bill that aims to raise awareness about falls among the elderly and expands research into identifying at-risk populations.

Nationally, 42% of all nursing home admissions take place as a direct result of one or more geriatric falls, according to Frank Pallone (D-NJ), who sponsored the House version of the legislation.

The Department of Health and Human Services will award grant money to state and local education campaigns that aim to raise awareness and ultimately prevent falls, under the bill. Also, the law requires HHS to disclose the effects of falls on healthcare costs.

More than $19 billion annually is spent on treating the elderly for the adverse effects of falls, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: $12 billion for hospitalization, $4 billion for emergency department visits, and $3 billion for outpatient care.

Senate speeds to vote on Medicaid moratorium bill

Senators could vote as early as this week on a bill to delay seven Medicaid regulations. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) late last week granted fast-track status to the legislation (H.R. 5613).

As a result of Reid's move, the legislation bypassed the Senate Finance Committee and heads straight to the Senate. The House last week passed the bill by a strong majority – enough to override a potential presidential veto. The Bush administration would be willing work with lawmakers on some of the rules, according to Kerry Weems, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Congressmen and governors have sharply criticized the rules because of their expected negative impact on Medicaid funding to states. The rules would place limits on Medicaid funding to government-owned nursing homes and hospitals, among other restrictions. The bill would delay the regulations, many of which are scheduled to take effect in coming weeks, until April 1, 2009.

IOM Report “Major Step Forward” for DCWs

“It is clear that a change in culture is needed - that both health care workers and health care organizations need to change the way they think about direct-care workers and, in particular, that the direct-care workers need to be seen as a vital part of the health care team,” says Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce, a new report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM). The institute is part of the National Academy of Sciences.

The report, from the IOM’s Committee on the Future Health Care Workforce for Older Americans, also calls for concrete improvements in the quality of direct-care jobs. It advocates a three-pronged approach:

  • More, and more effective, education and training;
  • Increased wages and benefits; and
  • Improvements to the work environment, such as empowerment strategies and culture change.

When the IOM talks, Congress generally listens. Past IOM reports have led to major improvements in our health care system - like the Nursing Home Reform Act of OBRA 1987, which grew out of an IOM report on long-term care. The current report is focused on how we can prepare for the coming baby boomer “age wave” by ensuring that the nation has an adequate and capable geriatric care workforce.

CMS Adds Searchable Database Of Lowest-Quality Nursing Homes Nationwide To Web Site

CMS on Thursday added to the Nursing Home Compare Web site a searchable database with the names of nursing homes that rank in the lowest 5% to 10% in quality based on state inspection results, the Wall Street Journal reports. CMS first released the information in the database as a list of Special Focus Facilities that includes about 130 of the 16,000 nursing homes in the U.S. In addition to the database, the Web site, which CMS updates monthly, includes summarized information from state inspections and data that nursing homes must submit to regulators about their residents.

House overwhelmingly approves Medicaid moratorium bill

The House Wednesday approved by a veto-proof margin a bill that would delay the implementation of seven onerous Medicaid regulations until April 1, 2009. <o:p></o:p>

Lawmakers approved by a vote of 349-62 Protecting the Medicaid Safety Net Act of 2008 (H.R. 5613). The legislation would place a moratorium on pending regulations that, among other consequences, restrict the use of the allowable provider tax and curtail Medicaid funding to government-funded skilled nursing facilities and other healthcare facilities. One rule that limits provider taxes was scheduled to go into effect on Tuesday. The Bush administration on Tuesday has threatened to veto the legislation, which now moves to the Senate.

More states offer choice in long-term care

After Anna G., a 74-year-old New Jersey woman, suffered a stroke, she needed help with bathing, dressing, food shopping, laundry, meal preparation and housekeeping. Her state Medicaid plan covered the cost of a home-health care worker to provide those services, but the local agencies were short-staffed and couldn’t send helpers on the schedule Anna needed.

Anna’s daughter finally insisted her mother go to a nursing home and when Anna refused, the New Jersey Department of Human Services gave her another option: a monthly stipend to hire her own helpers. Anna paid a cousin and a neighbor to take care of her and avoided checking into a nursing facility, a move medical experts say dramatically decreases the length and quality of an elder’s life.

The solution to Anna’s problem — a non-traditional Medicaid program called Cash and Counseling — was pioneered by New Jersey, Florida and Arkansas in the late 1990s with seed grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Administration on Aging and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The same grants were extended to12 more states — Alabama, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia – in 2004.

Now, the Medicaid option — which allows elders to avoid tapping into the overburdened home health care industry — is spreading across the country. At least 18 more states already have plans to offer Cash and Counseling programs starting in 2008 or later, according to a new study by the Center for Health Care Strategies.

Martha talking to the Senate

Video too!!

Chairman Kohl, Ranking Member Smith and members of the Committee: I appreciate the invitation to testify before you today and am honored to be here.

You have chosen a subject that is increasingly critical to our quality of life—not only for older Americans but for family members who care for them. I look forward to learning from the work of the Committee as it continues to examine this issue. The experience of the distinguished professionals on your panel today will be important as well.

I respond to your invitation today as a member of a family whose eyes were opened by personal experience—and to share what we have been learning at the Martha Stewart Center for Living at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

Advocates laud Elder Justice Act

The Elder Justice Act (HR 1783) received a heap of accolades from senior care advocates and industry representatives at a hearing on Capitol Hill Thursday.


Testimony from AARP and Robert Blancato, national coordinator of the Elder Justice Coalition, highlighted the care community's support of the bill, which was introduced last year by Representative Rahm Emanuel (D-IL).


Among the more than 556,000 confirmed cases of elder abuse recorded in 2004, 20,000 of those occurred in a nursing home or long-term care facility, said Blancato, speaking to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security. In its submitted testimony, AARP echoed Blancato's sentiments of concern and praised the legislation.