2016's Top Scams Against Seniors

Feb 15, 2017

An IRS impersonation fraud that has victimized thousands of Americans leads a 2017 U.S. Senate ranking of the Top 10 scams targeting senior citizens. Dubbed by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration as the most pervasive impersonation fraud in IRS history, the swindle involves suspected scammers based in the U.S. and India who telephone Americans and threaten arrests unless purported tax debts aren't paid immediately. At least 1.97 million people have been targeted, with as many as 200 victimized per week during the scam's peak last year, according to the inspector general. Other frauds that made the Senate Aging Committee's rankings include:

Sweepstakes scams, run by perpetrators who contact victims by phone, tell them they've won a financial prize, and then require advance payment of a fee to collect the purported winnings. Robocalls, using advanced electronic technology that enable would-be scammers to maximize the number of potential victims reached. Computer scams a fraud in which callers impersonate representatives of well-known technology companies and convince victims to allow remote access to their home computers to check for problems. The scammers then charge fees to remove purported electronic viruses. Elder financial abuse, in some cases involving relatives or friends who gain access to victims' identification data, bank accounts or other records. Grandparent scams, a con game in which fraudsters phone with phony claims that a grandchild is in trouble and needs help paying a hospital bill, returning home from overseas or gaining release from jail.

The IRS, Social Security Administration, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services never make phone calls asking for bank information or Social Security numbers.

The Senate report advised seniors and other Americans to never give out personal information by phone and always keep personal and financial documents secure.

SOURCE: USA Today

Ten Essential Facts About Medicare’s Financial Outlook

Feb 02, 2017

Medicare, the nation’s federal health insurance program for 57 million people age 65 and over and younger people with disabilities, often plays a major role in federal health policy and budget discussions. This was the case in discussions leading up to enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which, in addition to expanding health insurance coverage, included changes to Medicare that reduced program spending. Medicare is likely to be back on the federal policy agenda as Congress debates repealing and replacing the ACA, and also if policymakers turn their attention to reducing entitlement spending as part of efforts to reduce the growing federal budget deficit and debt. By many measures, Medicare’s financial status has improved since the ACA passed in 2010, and repealing the ACA’s provisions related to Medicare would increase program spending and worsen the financial outlook for the program. But even if the Medicare savings and revenue provisions in the ACA are retained, Medicare faces long-term financial pressures associated with higher health care costs and an aging population. To sustain Medicare for the long run, policymakers may need to consider additional program changes to modify program revenues, benefits, spending, and financing. This brief presents 10 facts and figures about Medicare’s financial status today and the outlook for the future.

SOURCE: Kaiser Family Foundation

Proposals to Replace the Affordable Care Act: A Side-by-Side Comparison

Jan 31, 2017

The president and Republicans in Congress have committed to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Toward that end, Republicans have put forward a number of proposals; some proposals have been formally introduced as legislation, others as policy papers, with varying levels of detail specified. The summaries presented here compare these proposals across a number of key characteristics and plan components. Also included is a summary of the ACA to allow for a comparison between the provisions in the ACA and those in the replacement proposals. These summaries will be regularly updated to reflect changes in the proposals and to incorporate major new proposals as they are announced.

SOURCE: The Kaiser Family Foundation

House to Begin Looking at ObamaCare Replacement Bills

Jan 30, 2017

The ObamaCare battle will heat up in the coming week with a string of hearings and the end of the enrollment period. The Trump administration set off anger among ObamaCare supporters on Thursday by cancelling the remaining outreach ads encouraging people to enroll. The final deadline was Tuesday, after which a clearer picture of how enrollment did, and whether the lack of ads made a difference, should emerge. The final enrollment numbers could come later in the week. So far, enrollment has been holding steady and is even slightly higher than last year, despite the threat of repeal. On the repeal front, the House Energy and Commerce committee will hold a hearing on Thursday to consider a range of ObamaCare-related bills. Many are narrow in scope, but they are still some of the first signs of action on concrete health care reform bills from Republicans this year. Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) plans to introduce a bill aimed at protecting people with pre-existing conditions, a sign Republicans are eager to try and figure out a way keep one of the most popular aspects of ObamaCare.

SOURCE: The Hill

How To Make A Home Much More Friendly To Seniors Using Wheelchairs Or Walkers

Jan 26, 2017

About 2 million older adults in the U.S. use wheelchairs, according to the U.S. Census Bureau; another 7 million use canes, crutches or walkers. That number is set to swell with the aging population: 20 years from now, 17 million U.S. households will include at least one mobility-challenged older adult, according to a December report from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

How well has the housing industry accommodated this population? “Very poorly,” said Bawden, chair of the remodelers division at the National Association of Home Builders and president of Legal Eagle Contractors in Bellaire, Texas. “I give them a D.”

Researchers at the Harvard center found that fewer than 10 percent of seniors live in homes or apartments outfitted with basic features that enhance accessibility — notably, entrances without steps, extra-wide hallways or doors needed for people with wheelchairs or walkers. Even less common are features that promote “usability” — carrying out the activities of daily life with a measure of ease and independence. This article goes on to describe several steps one can take to make an existing home more wheelchair-friendly, which helps with aging-in-place.

SOURCE: Kaiser Health News