6 Senior Care Consumer Advocacy Groups To Know

There are many consumer advocacy groups both on a state and national level whose mission is to protect the rights and benefits of seniors or anyone who requires long-term care.  They are:

Health Information, Counseling, and Advocacy Program (HICAP): An independent resource established by the California Department of Aging that provides free counseling and advice about Medicare and healthcare insurance options to senior citizens.  To find counseling services in your area go to: www.cahealthadvocates.org/HICAP/

The Consumer Consortium on Assisted Living (CCAL): A national nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the needs and rights of assisted living patients, their families and their caregivers. CCAL assists consumers with education about their choices for assisted living environments.  www.ccal.org

American Health Care Association (AHCA): The nation’s largest association of long term and post-acute care providers.  They advocate for quality care and services for frail, elderly and disabled Americans. Their mission is to improve service and administration of nursing homes. www.ahcancal.org

California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR): A statewide nonprofit 501(c)(3) advocacy organization, is committed to improving the choices, care and quality of life for long term care patients. Their mission is to educate and support consumers and advocates regarding their legal rights and be a voice long term care reform and humane alternatives to institutionalization.  www.canhr.org/

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long Term Care (NCCNHR):  Formerly the National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform, NCCNHR is a national nonprofit organization of consumers and advocates dedicated to improving care for residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.  www.nccnhr.org/

Long-Term Care Ombudsman: An ombudsman is an advocate for residents of nursing homes, board and care homes and assisted living facilities. They provide information about how to find a facility and what to do to get quality care. Under the federal Older Americans Act, every state is required to have an Ombudsman Program that addresses complaints and advocates for improvements in the long-term care system. To locate state agencies and citizen advocacy groups by state:  http://www.ltcombudsman.org/ombudsman

To find additional U.S. government information regarding senior consumers, go to http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Seniors/Consumer.shtml

Photo credit: ktylerconk

Text from Obama’s Healthcare Speech That Addresses Seniors

For those of you who missed President Obama’s speech last night, below is the text of the section of the speech addressing seniors.  The speech was delivered on September 9, 2009, in a joint session of the US Congress.

In fact, I want to speak directly to America’s seniors for a moment, because Medicare is another issue that’s been subjected to demagoguery and distortion during the course of this debate.

More than four decades ago, this nation stood up for the principle that after a lifetime of hard work, our seniors should not be left to struggle with a pile of medical bills in their later years. That is how Medicare was born. And it remains a sacred trust that must be passed down from one generation to the next. That is why not a dollar of the Medicare trust fund will be used to pay for this plan.

The only thing this plan would eliminate is the hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud, as well as unwarranted subsidies in Medicare that go to insurance companies – subsidies that do everything to pad their profits and nothing to improve your care. And we will also create an independent commission of doctors and medical experts charged with identifying more waste in the years ahead.

These steps will ensure that you – America’s seniors – get the benefits you’ve been promised. They will ensure that Medicare is there for future generations. And we can use some of the savings to fill the gap in coverage that forces too many seniors to pay thousands of dollars a year out of their own pocket for prescription drugs. That’s what this plan will do for you. So don’t pay attention to those scary stories about how your benefits will be cut – especially since some of the same folks who are spreading these tall tales have fought against Medicare in the past, and just this year supported a budget that would have essentially turned Medicare into a privatized voucher program. That will never happen on my watch. I will protect Medicare.

Now, because Medicare is such a big part of the health care system, making the program more efficient can help usher in changes in the way we deliver health care that can reduce costs for everybody. We have long known that some places, like the Intermountain Healthcare in Utah or the Geisinger Health System in rural Pennsylvania, offer high-quality care at costs below average. The commission can help encourage the adoption of these common-sense best practices by doctors and medical professionals throughout the system – everything from reducing hospital infection rates to encouraging better coordination between teams of doctors.

Reducing the waste and inefficiency in Medicare and Medicaid will pay for most of this plan. Much of the rest would be paid for with revenues from the very same drug and insurance companies that stand to benefit from tens of millions of new customers. This reform will charge insurance companies a fee for their most expensive policies, which will encourage them to provide greater value for the money – an idea which has the support of Democratic and Republican experts. And according to these same experts, this modest change could help hold down the cost of health care for all of us in the long-run.

Now Online: Forum with Daschle, Gingrich and Volunteers of America Discuss Healthcare for Seniors

A few weeks back, I was approached by David Burch, Communications Manager at Volunteers of America.  David was soliciting questions and concerns for a very interesting panel to be held in Washington DC.

Here’s a recap of the event from David:

On Monday, June 8, Volunteers of America hosted a panel discussion at the National Press Club on the future of healthcare and services for seniors in America. More than 400 people joined us for this lively conversation featuring leading healthcare reform advocates Tom Daschle and Newt Gingrich, as well as cultural anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson and Volunteers of America National President Chuck Gould.

If you were unable to attend, you can watch select clips from “Boomer Bust: From Greatest Generation to Crisis Generation,” as well as video of the entire event, online at http://voa.org/boomerbust. A detailed overview of the event also can be found here.

The panel discussion served to launch Volunteers of America’s new Aging with Options initiative, which aims to transform the way senior care is provided in America by creating new choices, including more access to home care. A conversation with Volunteers of America National President Chuck Gould, in which he discusses his thoughts on the future of health care and services for seniors, can be found at http://voa.org/gouldqanda.

Brief clips highlighting Chuck Gould’s key points are also posted on Volunteers of America’s YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/VolofAmerica.

Looks like a great start to the conversation.  However, I noticed one major omission from this discussion.  While I certainly have the utmost respect for the policy expertise of the panel, I would have liked to have seen some family representation to encourage that side of the debate.

That being said, David graciously accepted my questions and I am happy to have participated.  The clips on the site above are a good summary.