All Posts By

Katrina Cohens

California’s Master Plan For Aging: Oral Health Recommendations

By | CA Health Network Alert, FACT SHEET, Health Care, Oral Health, REPORTS, SENIOR POVERTY

California has committed to developing a Master Plan for Aging in order to meet the needs of older adults today and for generations to come.

The fifth in this series of papers, Oral Health Recommendations, offers specific policy recommendations to expand access to oral health for low-income older Californians, improve oral health outcomes, combat systemic health inequities, and improve the overall health of older adults in California.

Fact Sheet: How the ACA is Helping Older Adults During COVID-19

By | Affordable Care Act, FACT SHEET, Health Care, Home & Community Based Services, REPORTS

COVID-19 is putting a spotlight on our nation’s healthcare system—exposing both the ways in which programs that serve older adults are essential and the gaps. In particular, the pandemic is emphasizing how older adults’ lives are at stake in California v. Texas, when the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether to uphold the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Today, 18 states, led by Texas and the Trump Administration, submitted briefs asking the Supreme Court to strike down the ACA as unconstitutional.

Justice in Aging’s new fact sheet outlines the ways the ACA is acting as a lifeline for older adults during this pandemic. It ensures that more older adults have health insurance coverage, expands access to home and community-based services (HCBS), and prevents discrimination based on age and disability.

Eliminating the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and anti-discrimination protections would exacerbate the devastating effects of systemic racism that are causing older adults of color who to contract and die from COVID-19 at disproportionate rates.

For more on what’s at risk for low-income older adults if the ACA is struck down read our amicus brief and our 10-Year Checkup Issue Brief.

Big Budget Win in California: Vital Programs Preserved

By | CA Health Network Alert, Newsroom

Enormous Win: Advocates Beat Back Cuts to Programs for Low-Income Older Adults

Governor Newsom and the California Legislature announced yesterday that they have come to a budget agreement that will preserve the vital programs low-income older adults rely on for their health and safety. This final budget agreement preserves the critical programs that will help those most at risk from the pandemic—older Black, Latinx, and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders—access health care services they need. We thank the Governor and Legislature for preserving programs that help people access services at home and in the community so that at-risk older adults are not forced to seek care in nursing facilities, which are particularly dangerous during the pandemic.

Programs Preserved 

  • Home and Community-Based Services. The budget preserves Community-Based Adult Services (CBAS), the Multi-Purpose Senior Services Program (MSSP), and In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS). Maintaining these programs reduces the need for older adults to seek care in nursing homes or other congregate settings in which over fifty percent of all COVID-19 deaths have occurred.
  • Medi-Cal Coverage and Benefits. The budget preserves Medi-Cal coverage for seniors and people with disabilities with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level; maintains current Medi-Cal estate recovery rules; and preserves current dental and other critical Medi-Cal benefits. Unfortunately, however, the final agreement does not extend Medi-Cal coverage to undocumented seniors, leaving thousands who are at most risk during this pandemic without access to health care.
  • SSI/SSP. The budget maintains current SSI/SSP benefit levels.
  • Other Senior Programs. The budget preserves senior nutrition, caregiver resource centers, long-term care ombudsman, aging and disability resource centers, and Independent Living Centers.

While this budget agreement preserves existing programs older Californians need, without increased revenues, cuts still loom and racial inequities remain unaddressed. Justice in Aging will continue to advocate both federally and at the state level for additional revenue to ensure cuts are not made in the future and that investments are made at the state level to address the racial disparities in our institutions and programs. Today, however, we celebrate California’s preservation of existing support programs for older adults.

Trump Administration’s Roll-back of Health Care Rights Is Another Attack

By | Newsroom, Statements

The Trump Administration has once again blatantly attacked the civil rights of low-income older adults who are LGBTQ, limited English proficient (LEP), and others who experience discrimination in health care in our country. Last week, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights finalized dangerous and far reaching changes to regulations implementing the Health Care Rights Law, also known as Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, and disability in health programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.

The new rule attempts to eliminate protections for LEP individuals and the rights of LGBTQ people, despite today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision applying Title VII’s sex discrimination prohibitions to LGBT employees. It also attempts to significantly limit the way that victims of any type of discrimination can seek redress under the law. The rule guts enforcement of the only federal law designed to protect against discrimination in health care.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to kill people of color, especially older adults and those with disabilities, at disproportionate rates due to the systemic racism that pervades both our health care system and other aspects of life, rolling back these protections is both a racist and dangerous decision. In issuing these changes, the HHS Office for Civil Rights is defying its mandate and profound duty to protect the civil rights of these communities.

Most importantly, this is a cruel, extremist, and transparent political attack on older adults and people with disabilities who are LGBTQ and/or LEP. Because older adults have lived experiences at the intersection with other identities, an attack on the rights of LGBTQ and LEP older adults is an attack on older adults of color:

Justice in Aging is committed to fighting for robust enforcement of the Health Care Rights Law and calls on this Administration to reverse course, restore the critical protections it took away, and be a defender of civil rights.

Fact Sheet: Budget Cuts to Programs for Low-Income Older Adults Must be Rejected – Cuts Would Disproportionately Hurt Older Adults of Color

By | CA Health Network Alert, Economic Security, FACT SHEET, Health Care, Home & Community Based Services, REPORTS

Governor Newsom’s revised budget makes deep cuts to nearly every program on which low-income older adults rely. The cuts to programs will be especially hard on older adults of color, who, because of systemic racism and discrimination, are at greater risk from COVID-19 and rely on these programs to survive. If enacted, these cuts will cause great harm to the health and economic security of the state’s low-income older adults and their families.

Last week, the state Senate rejected many of the cuts that the Governor proposed. Advocates need to continue to push back and educate legislators about the devastating impact of these cuts. A new Justice in Aging fact sheet discusses in more detail the specific harms of these cuts and their disproportionate impact on communities of color.

Free Webinar: Health Care Rights for Older Adults During COVID-19

By | CA Health Network Alert, Health Care, Medicare, WEBINAR

Older adults and people with disabilities are one of the populations most susceptible to both COVID-19 and the effects of related physical distancing mandates. Many advocates and other service providers working with older adults may have questions about the rights of older adults and the impact of COVID-19 and related relief measures on healthcare.

This free webinar, co-organized by Justice in Aging and California Health Advocates Senior Medicare Patrol, will discuss health care rights under Medicare and Medi-Cal for older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic, including increased flexibilities and requirements for Medicare Advantage, Part D and Cal MediConnect plans, the moratorium on Medi-Cal negative actions, special enrollment periods under Medicare, the impact of relief efforts on Medi-Cal benefits, guaranteed issue events for Medigap, and more.

Who should participate:
Legal services attorneys and aging and disability service providers, including HICAP staff and volunteers.

Denny Chan, Justice in Aging
Bonnie Burns, California Health Advocates

The webinar took place on Thursday, May 28, from 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. PT.

Closed captioning will be available during this webinar. A link with access to the captions will be shared through GoToWebinar’s chat box shortly before the webinar start time.


COVID-19 Advocacy Toolkit for Older Adults

By | REPORTS, Toolkit

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the unmet needs of low-income older adults across the country, as well as the disparate impact a public health crisis like COVID-19 has on communities of color. Older adults and people with underlying and chronic health conditions are most at risk from both the virus and the range of harms caused by isolation during strict physical distancing. Older adults who were already living on limited income and experiencing health disparities due to historical and present-day discrimination are most at risk of dying, whether it be from COVID-19 itself or not being able to get or afford other necessary healthcare, nutrition, and housing. Despite these facts, the relief packages passed so far have not focused on the needs of those most impacted.

We are asking Congress to take action on a range of issues. We have developed a toolkit to help you take action that includes a template letter and social media content.

Justice in Aging Statement on Opening Too Soon

By | Health Care, Health Disparities, PRESS RELEASE
Justice in Aging is calling on state and local governments to retain strong social distancing measures to protect the health and safety of older adults in our communities. Relaxing these measures now, even as new models are projecting a near doubling of daily deaths by June 1, is irresponsible and will cost the lives of tens of thousands of older adults. Though the curve is flattening in some places, it is spiking in others. The most critical fact is that the virus remains deadly all across America in every type of community and for every age group, but most especially for seniors, people with disabilities, and people of color. Read More