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.
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.
Drinking coffee may help protect older people against inflammation, the underlying process for many age-related diseases, Stanford University School of Medicine researchers have discovered.
The scientists, who published their findings in the journal Nature Medicine, found that older people whose bodies had low levels of inflammation shared another common characteristic — caffeine consumption. The results may help explain why coffee drinkers tend to live longer than those who avoid the beverage, according to a Stanford press release. In fact, the more caffeine older people took in, the more protected they were against chronic inflammation, David Furman, the study’s lead author, told Time magazine. More than 90 percent of age-related diseases — including diabetes, hypertension, joint problems, Alzheimer’s and many types of cancer — have chronic inflammation at their core. Furman and his colleagues analyzed blood samples from a group of healthy people between the ages of 20 and 30 and a second group 60 and older, according to the Stanford release. They found that in the older subjects, two clusters of genes related to inflammation become more active, which in turn makes the people more vulnerable to the diseases. The researchers said caffeine apparently interferes with the pathway by which those genes trigger inflammation. People who drank five cups of coffee daily — an amount that some might consider excessive — showed extremely low levels of activity in the gene pathways.
Donald J. Trump ran on a campaign promise to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. So it should not come as a surprise that he has signed an executive order urging his administration to fight it as much as possible. But that order, alone, won’t allow President Trump to unwind the sprawling health law known as Obamacare. Mr. Trump and Republican leaders in Congress are engaged in negotiations about legislation that might substantially undo or replace the health law. Even before the inauguration, Congress took a first step toward gutting major provisions. But as that process underscores, major changes to health policy will require new legislation. The Trump executive order should be seen more as a mission statement, and less as a monarchical edict that can instantly change the law. The order spells out the various ways that a Trump administration might fight the parts of the health law until new legislation comes: by writing new regulations and exercising discretion where allowed. Regulations can be changed, but, as the order notes, only through a legal process of “notice and comment” that can take months or years. On matters of discretion, the administration can move faster, but there are limited places where current law gives the administration much power to quickly change course.
The Elder Abuse and Prevention Act has a good chance of becoming law this year, its key sponsor, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) predicted Thursday. “It would make society a safer place for seniors,” Grassley said at a Judiciary session where the bill passed unanimously on a voice vote. The legislation has received wide support among elderly advocacy groups. The Senator said the bill has a better chance of being enacted than an almost identical measure did last year because it ran out of time.
Among the protections:
Penalties are increased for telemarketing and email marketing fraud against seniors. Each federal judicial district would have at least one Justice Department attorney focusing on senior fraud. Data collection of elder abuse would be greatly expanded by the federal government. AARP and other promoters of the aged have long contended a major reason prosecution of elder abuse is rare is because reliable statistics do not exist to show the high prevalence of the problem. More Justice Department training for state and local government on elder abuse. “Seniors deserve to be treated with respect,” said the Iowa Republican, a senior citizen himself, said. Senate Aging Chair Committee Susan Collins (R-ME) is a co-sponsor of the legislation.