Updates

Communications from SPW

January 16, 2019

Medicare In-home Services: Learn from Medicaid

A senior holds her glasses and handbag. New services may help more seniors stay at home.

As people age, they typically need more help doing everyday things, whether it’s getting the groceries or taking a shower or remembering to take their meds. In many cases, even limited assistance can allow a senior to remain in their home for many years, even decades.

The logical program to provide in-home services is Medicare, which pays for most of seniors’ medical care. But Medicare does not cover them. Medicare does cover skilled medical services like physical therapy or nursing care when you’re ill or recovering from an illness or surgery, but you must be certified by a doctor as homebound, and even then it will not cover non-medical home services such as help bathing or dressing or preventive aids such as grab bars. The result is that many seniors end up spending down their resources to be eligible for Medicaid to get the non-medical care they need in order to live at home. Our system makes middle class people become poor to get the care they need – and, ultimately, states pick up the tab. Medicaid has been covering a growing portion of long-term care in the U.S. – 53% in 2018.

But 2019 ushers in help at home services for Medicare – and the change may be the catalyst for a more dramatic transformation in healthcare delivery and effectiveness.

Continue reading “Medicare In-home Services: Learn from Medicaid”

January 14, 2019

“But What If the Terrorist Is You?”

Warrior Songs vol 2 cover art“They say that you’re my battle buddy, they say that you’re my friend, that I’ll never have to make you answer to business end, of this weapon I was issued, to give terrorists their due – but what if the terrorist is you?”

That’s Emily Yates singing a song of her own composition on a new album released in November. The album, Women at War: Warrior Songs Vol. 2, is a full-length CD devoted solely to the experiences of women in the military, and created by women. It is a work, as the promotional material says, “by women, about women, for women.” The 15 tracks tell the stories of 18 women veterans and two Gold Star family members.

Women make up more than 15% of the US military, but their presence and their contributions can be all but invisible in the public mind. And although they are subject to the same hardships, risks, and physical and mental traumas as their male comrades, those scars and harms are not on the radar of most people when they picture what a soldier has to face. This album makes it concrete for us. Continue reading ““But What If the Terrorist Is You?””

December 14, 2018

Will 2019 Bring a Medicaid Buy-in to Illinois?

Map of states exploring Medicaid buy-in, updated from unitedstatesofcare.org
Click to enlarge
When Governor-elect JB Pritzker and incoming legislators take office a few days from now, we hope among the top-of-mind issues for them will be healthcare – and the possibility of creating a public option that would allow Illinois residents to purchase a premium to participate in the state’s Medicaid program. Candidate JB Pritzker talked about his vision for such an initiative, which he called “IllinoisCares,” and his platform included a public health insurance option that would be available to all residents.

IllinoisCares would allow Illinois residents to purchase health insurance from the state, rather than a commercial plan. Forty-two states – including Illinois – already have Medicaid buy-in programs, but they are limited to working people with disabilities who have not been able to purchase affordable health insurance coverage that meets their health needs in the private market. Continue reading “Will 2019 Bring a Medicaid Buy-in to Illinois?”

December 13, 2018

The Healthcare Bills of 2018

To do in November: Override SB 1737 veto - checked!The new year will bring with it Public Act 100-1118, which protects Illinois consumers by imposing strict limitations on so-called “short term health insurance plans.”

Enacted in a veto override last month, it was perhaps the most dramatic of several important legislative achievements the now-outgoing 100th Legislature.

The Short-Term, Limited-Duration Health Insurance Coverage Act – The bill was developed with help from Protect our Care Illinois, in response to the Trump Administration’s proposed regulations to extend short-term insurance terms and make them renewable.These plans, which are essentially a form of junk insurance, are not bound by ACA consumer protections and can deny coverage for pre-existing conditions; analysts warned that extending their duration would undermine risk pools and cause Marketplace premiums to soar. Continue reading “The Healthcare Bills of 2018”

November 28, 2018

Challenge prejudice, change minds

Photo of an angry man“These women are hurting my soldiers’ careers. You’re wasting OUR time.” A major lambasted me during a training’s break. He continued: “My soldiers would never do that. Can we get back to our real work.” Although worded like a question, his last sentence spewed at me with such authoritative, deep guttural tones, that I clearly knew he meant it as a command.

Here I was, my very first training working with military victim advocates. Green as can be and the highest-ranking figure in the course commanding me to release the class. Of course, I couldn’t dismiss the class; and he technically didn’t have any authority over the matter. Continue reading “Challenge prejudice, change minds”

November 2, 2018

From Research Readiness to Empowering Action

Home page image from Disability Peer AdvocatesIt was a delightful surprise to hear from our cohort member Jody Verble last month that she had just created a website that offers tips and help on disability employment. Jody took part in our “research readiness” training. This course was put together for people with traumatic spinal cord injury to have a greater voice in the scientific studies that are done about that condition.

We invited our research readiness graduates and expert panel members to an On The Table event – one of the many gatherings held citywide in May as part of the Chicago Community Trust’s initiative to bring people together to spark conversations and projects for the public good.

“The message was TAKE ACTION,” Jody told us. “So I went home that day and bought this domain.” Continue reading “From Research Readiness to Empowering Action”

October 30, 2018

Would You Wait Three Decades?

Hands reaching out toward womanWhether you wait three hours or three decades, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

Politics aside, the media and others should be incredibly ashamed of their behavior.

The reckless victim-blaming appalled me.

In no case have I ever seen one’s unwillingness to come forward affect one’s credibility. Continue reading “Would You Wait Three Decades?”

October 29, 2018

Feds Will Subsidize Junk Health Coverage

Washington Post tweet about new guidance, featuring CMS Administrator Seema VermaRecent guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services encourages states to take new steps to circumvent the ACA. Specifically, it invites them to apply for Medicaid Section 1332 waivers in order to use ACA subsidies for short-term insurance and association health plans. These plans, originally intended only to tide people over between periods of more-permanent coverage, are little more than flimsy stop-gaps that scarcely merit the name of real health insurance. Continue reading “Feds Will Subsidize Junk Health Coverage”

September 19, 2018

Sexual Assault: A Community’s Responsibility

Mural of womanOnce at a high school track meet, a boy grabbed my butt. Before I could do anything, he scurried back to his group of male friends where they proceeded to point and laugh at me.

Later I told my mother what happened. She shared with me that a similar thing had happened to her when she was my age. It was comforting knowing that I was not alone. But it was frustrating knowing that my experience, like hers, would most likely not be addressed or taken seriously by any authority figure. Continue reading “Sexual Assault: A Community’s Responsibility”

September 6, 2018

A Strong, New Mental Health Parity Law

In Illinois, mental health and physcial health are equalBehavioral health coverage loopholes: Closed! SB 1707, a bipartisan mental health parity bill, is now the law of the state.

The bill, signed by Gov. Rauner on August 22, now Public Act 100-1023, strengthens the existing state parity law and arms the Department of Insurance with clear enforcement powers.

Calling it “the strongest mental health parity law in the nation,” the Kennedy Forum noted that introduction was spurred by a provider survey undertaken by the forum and its partners. Continue reading “A Strong, New Mental Health Parity Law”