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Opinions & Analysis

Monday, April 14, 2014

Today's Views & Opinions for Senior Citizens & Baby Boomers

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Aging News & Opinion

Cheers for the ‘Age-Adjusted’ Cutoff Making Pulmonary Embolism Test Work for Senior Citizens

Is this a break-through in health care adjusting to meet the demands of an aging society that is different than the one we grew up in?

By Tucker Sutherland, editor, SeniorJournal.com

March 18, 2014 – Probably more common sense should be applied to the medical care of older people. A study released today by the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) lauds the accomplishment of international doctors who solved the problem of a blood test for pulmonary embolism (blood clot in lungs) that was no longer working for senior citizens. Seniors seem to find themselves increasingly excluded from certain medical testing due to their advanced age. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Huzzah! For Daylight Saving - Don’t Forget to Leave Off the 's'

The clock in the car is always troublesome so if necessary just cover it with tape.

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

March 9, 2014 - The arrival today of daylight saving time (DST) marks the official arrival of spring, at least in my mind. And notice I said saving time, not savings time. Evidently over the years this event has taken on a different identity with the addition of an “s.” And frankly until recently I always opted for the plural. It’s a joyous time of the year, no matter how you pronounce it. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

A Simple “Thank You” During This Holiday Season Will Suffice

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Somehow in our society we have lost the art of civility.  People don’t take the time to send out “thank you” notes or even utter the words, “sorry” or “excuse me”

Nov. 14, 2013 - In keeping with my cranky reputation, I want to ruminate (I like that word) on a practice by some people that really irks me.  I’m referring to the practice or lack thereof that some people never acknowledge simple gestures such as one holding the door, sending a birthday or new birth gift or an anniversary gift. Or, how about when someone accidentally jostles you in a store and does not offer an apology? Read more...

Medicare & Medicaid News

Fighting Medicaid Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Through Education - Medicare Blog

By Ted Doolittle, CMS Deputy Director, Center for Program Integrity

Nov. 7, 2013 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) wants everyone to join in the fight against fraud, waste, and abuse as part of our comprehensive strategy to protect federal health care programs and taxpayer dollars.  We are now making it easier than ever before for health care providers, managed care plans, and individuals and families with Medicaid benefits to use the education and training materials on the new Medicaid Program Integrity website. Read more...

Senior Citizen Opinions & Analysis

Why Do They Keep Screening 75-Year-Olds for Cancer When They Are Not Supposed To?

As a 75-year-old I have an opinion on this new JAMA study finding docs keep on doing PSA screening for old guys despite the experts advising against it

By Tucker Sutherland, editor, SeniorJournal.com

Oct. 15, 2013 – Okay, I am 75 years old. I have sort of stopped telling people my exact age, because most of them quickly apply the old-age-label to you and begin to treat you as a has-been. It really hit me when I watched the television show about zombies – The Living Dead – with some of my grandchildren and one of the young ones said, “You can tell the zombies because they walk like old grandpas.” Read more...

Senior Citizen Opinions & Analysis

Poor Communication to Senior Citizens About Obamacare May Be Costly Error

Even key news release from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services misleads senior citizens – its primary audience

By Tucker Sutherland, editor & publisher, SeniorJournal.com

Oct. 1, 2013 – One of the complaints we hear often is that the Obama Administration has done a poor job of communicating to the public about the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. We certainly agree with this opinion. The administration continues to not only fail to effectively market the programs benefits, but their poor communications continues to confuse the public and senior citizens in particular. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

A coffee good to the last drop? Well maybe not for senior citizens, especially at $60 a cup

Civet eats coffee berry, passes the bean during its regular digestive process before being roasted and named Kopi Luwak

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Aug. 29, 2013 - Sometimes watching TV programs acquaints us with products and services we never heard of before.  Case in point was a recent episode of the drama/comedy lawyer program “Franklin & Bash”. Near the end of a recent episode one of the characters is serving coffee, which he calls Kopi Luwak.  He mentions that a single cup of this brew could go for $60.  The recipient of the java remarks that it was the best coffee he had ever tasted. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Fourth of July Spurs Recall of Fireworks in 1950s; Favorite Celebration at The Henry Ford in Michigan

Growing up in the 50’s meant enjoying the Fourth of July with a pack of firecrackers and some sparklers

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

June 27, 2013 - It seems most people have plans for celebrating the birth of our nation on July 4th and many of us have special memories of past holidays.  Permit me to reminisce about some of those memories and explore some of the happenings currently underway. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Do You Really Want My Junk?

'For the life of me I can’t figure out why someone wants to buy someone’s junk at a yard sale'

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

May 28, 2013 - As beautiful flowers continue to emerge from the doldrums of a tough winter, there is another phenomenon that is making its yearly appearance – yard sale signs! Seems everywhere one drives, these signs, some festooned with balloons, are springing up. What amazes me is the number of people who spend an entire weekend traveling to the various garage sales. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

The End Is Near! Louie Anderson’s Jump into Pool Has to Hit Bottom for TV Entertainment

What could be more exciting than watching a bunch of has-beens dive into water!

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

April 2, 2013 - Whatever happened to quality in television entertainment programming! Many of us, I think, have either seen or heard about some of the mind numbing programs that pass for entertainment on television. The Kardashians, Honey Boo Boo, Wife Swap, Toddlers and Tiaras, Jersey Shore, any of The House Wives Of…, and of course The Bachelor rise, I mean sink, to the bottom of the list for sure! Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Retiree Welcomes the Pope to the World of Retirement with Suggested To-Do List

The Pope is too pooped to Pope but may join AARP - the Almighty Alliance of Retired Popes

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

March 4, 2013 - Those of us who are retired, or those approaching retirement, have probably prepared a list of “to dos”.  Retirement is a time to enjoy all those activities that we have dreamed about but did not have time to experience.  Perhaps it is a personal “bucket list” of things to be accomplished as we move into the twilight years of our life.   Whatever the case, it is a time for new adventures. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Super Bowl Commercials Move Cranky Retiree to Animal Magnetism for Valentine’s Day

Don’t forget that lions hunt or forage for food for their companions so don’t forget…

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Feb. 8, 2013 - Now that Super Bowl Sunday and all the hoopla associated with it has come to a conclusion, us sports fans can now look forward to the opening of baseball training camps and, of course, March Madness – the annual NCAA basketball tournament.  For many of us though the memories of a great football game between the 49ers and the Ravens remain intact.  Or, perhaps it was the commercials that remain an indelible part of our memory. Read more...

Opinions & Analysis for Seniors

Reverse Mortgages Could Save Government Billions, Suggests Industry Leader

Estimates reverse mortgages could play a role in saving as much as $5 to $30 billion per year in Medicaid

By Michael G. Branson, All Reverse Mortgage

 Dec. 26, 2012 - Reverse mortgages were designed to help senior homeowners age in place. While they accomplish that goal for thousands of people today, there’s also a big picture benefit to the reverse mortgage program as a whole - it saves government money on entitlement programs such as Supplemental Security income and Medicaid. Read more...

Opinion

Our Christmas Obsession With Guns

Maybe it’s finally time to restore some sense of sanity to this issue of gun control

Peter Billingsley as "Ralphie" Parker in "A Christmas Story" holding his Red Ryder BB gun. More at IMDb.By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Dec. 21, 2012 - As our nation mourns the loss of twenty innocent children and six adults in the aftermath of the senseless slaughter in Newtown, Connecticut, it comes as no surprise that the subject of gun proliferation, especially assault weapons, will be on the front burner, and rightly so! Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Top Ten Do’s and Don’ts for Senior Citizens On Thanksgiving

Favorite holiday of this old-school columnist but there are rules of etiquette

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Nov. 19, 2012 - Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday! Unlike other holidays, there is no pretentiousness. One just arrives at the host home dressed in an everyday wardrobe and not encumbered with loads of presents. Now that is not to say that as a guest you can’t bring a tasty food dish or a bottle of wine for the host or perhaps don your favorite gaudy holiday sweater but it is a day to enjoy great company, wonderful food and exciting football. Read more, see video...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Is Halloween Still For Kids? Remembering Good Old Days of When We Were Hobos

'We merely went door to door in our neighborhoods and collected candy in a pillow case'

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Oct. 26, 2012 - Perusing the local costume shops in search of a Halloween costume reveals that the preponderance of items on the shelves are not for our offspring but for ourselves! As I looked at a wall of over a hundred costumes I quickly surmised that only a small number of outfits were geared for children. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Ahoy Mates! It’s Talk Like a Pirate Day, Plus Secrets on How to Get Things Free

Grumpy old retiree gets excited about Pirate talking as well as harassing people until they give in - see video

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Sept. 16, 2012 - For those of you looking for a way to emerge from the doldrums of realizing that summer is almost over, let me suggest that you circle Wednesday, September 19 on your calendar. No, it isn’t the first day of Fall which by the way is September 22. And, of course, the colorful changing of leaves, cider, and caramel covered apples in the Fall are certainly high points, but I think there is something more important occurring, at least in my warped mind – it is International Talk Like A Pirate Day! Now what could be more exciting than that! Read more, see video...

Advice Column from Dr. Carolyn Clancy

Helping Senior Citizens Avoid Return Trips to the Hospital

Next month Medicare will prod hospitals to improve their practices; Those with high readmissions for heart attack, pneumonia, and heart failure will get paid less

By Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., Director, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Sept. 11, 2012 - If you or a loved one has ever been in the hospital for a serious condition, the last thing you want is a fast return trip. But that's what happens to 1 in 5 patients covered by Medicare, the health insurance program for people 65 and older, a major study found. Hospital readmissions within 30 days are costly for Medicare and for patients. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

No Learning on The Learning Channel: Just Honey Boo Boo and Dysfunctional Family

No senior citizen cannot be shocked – convincing portrayal that Armageddon is fast approaching; out draws Republican convention

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Sept. 5, 2012 - The latest example that a segment of society is rampant with cretins and dolts comes to us through a mindless television program entitled, “Honey Boo Boo”. It is an exploitation of a chunky six year old rural Georgia girl, Honey Boo Boo, who enters beauty contests. The program also features her antics with a pig who likes to defecate on a table. Read more...

Great Memories, Lots of Laughs, and $1 Burgers! High School Reunion Time

50th reunion turns to personal ailments, favorite doctors, home downsizing, assisted living, grandchildren, care of aging parents

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

July 30, 2012 - Perusing the daily newspapers reveals that a number of schools are celebrating reunions. Most reunions seem to center around the 25th or 50th year although, every now and then, you will see some high schools celebrating a 10th reunion. It has been my experience that reunions in the higher numbers are the most enjoyable because graduates no longer are interested in showing off the spoils of their lifestyle.... Read more

Senior Citizen Opinions & Analysis

Supreme Court Gives America’s Senior Citizens Longer, Healthier Lives

Helpful in getting senior citizens who oppose Obamacare to take a second look are statements issued today by many well-informed senior advocates

By Tucker Sutherland, Editor & Publisher, SeniorJournal.com

June 28, 2012 – Many, many senior citizens – maybe millions – will live longer healthier lives due to the approval of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) this morning by the U.S. Supreme Court. For seniors the legislation has already put in place lower drug costs, more free preventive health care screening and an annual consultation with a physician to discuss their personal health plan. And, for all Americans it should mean an end to out-of-control increases in medical costs. Read more...

Senior Citizen Opinions & Analysis

Filling the Part D Doughnut Hole: Savings Could Disappear in Court Ruling

A Supreme Court ruling against the healthcare law could mean ‘a nasty hit in the wallet the next time millions of seniors go to the pharmacy’

By Ron Pollack, Executive Director, Families USA

June 14, 2012 - As just about anyone with Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage can tell you, one of the biggest problems with the benefit has been the gap in coverage that’s known as the “doughnut hole.” Under the original Part D, when your total drug costs (the costs paid by both you and your plan) reached an initial limit ($2,930 in 2012), your coverage would stop completely. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Is Your “Check Engine” Light On? PSA Test May Need the Same Attention

Author says PSA test for prostate cancer may have been life-saving discovery for him

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

June 7, 2012 - A government task force recently proclaimed that the Prostate Scientific Antigen (PSA) test need not be administered to detect cancer. The report indicates that the results of surgery can result in incontinence, sexual dysfunction, heart problems and even death. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Oh No! IBM CEO Is A Girl! What Will Augusta National Do? Follow Our Gang?

The little rascals of “Our Gang” could teach the boys of Augusta a thing or two about equality

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Click to larger viewApril 20, 2012 - Back in the 40’s, when us boys were in our formative years, so to speak, we resided in a “girl free” atmosphere, which was not uncommon during those days. Our game playing, our bike rides, our hours of comic book reading was devoid of girls. We even had a clubhouse that was not friendly to members of the opposite sex, who we considered having “cooties”, whatever that was. Read more...

Reverse Mortgage Opinion

So, What’s Your Problem with Reverse Mortgages? Industry Leader Has Answers

A leader in the reverse mortgage industry debunks myths and criticisms of the government program for older Americans

By Michael Branson, All Reverse Mortgage Company

April 17, 2012 - Reverse mortgages are a financial product that has received a lot of bad press over the years, leaving many people who could potentially benefit from this type of loan with negative associations and a bad taste in their mouth. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Want to Smell Heavenly? Eau de Toilette Papal! Or a Few Other Manly Scents

In the good old days you had two choices - Old Spice or Aqua Velva; how times have changed

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

March 19, 2012 - Back in my pre-pubertal days there were only a couple popular colognes on the market – Old Spice and Aqua Velva. And, of course, for slicking back our curly locks and looking completely debonair we all relied on Brylcreem, since we were told that “a little dab’ll do ya!” Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

What Will You Be Doing With Your Extra Day This Leap Year?

Already bored retiree lists 29 things to do with your extra day on February 29

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Feb. 28, 2012 - Every four years our Gregorian calendar provides us with an extra day. Leap year as it is called, or intercalary, or bissextile year contains one additional day in order to keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical or seasonal year. (And if you understand that please contact me!) In any event, 2012 is the year we gain an extra day not to be confused with gaining an extra hour for Daylight Saving Time. Are you still with me? Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Cranky Retired Columnist Hits  Slightly Sweeter Note for Valentine’s Day

Possible Valentine from Hef -
"You may or may not have been my Valentine but, since I am now 85 years old, you should understand if I don't remember you. Happy Valentine's Day, anyway"

Holiday also has a somber meaning - 21 years ago  his Dad had a heart attack on Valentine's leading to his death

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Feb. 9, 2012 - Many of us, I'm sure, already have plans for this coming Valentine's Day. Mary and I will be having a romantic dinner at one of our favorite restaurants – Edison’s Restaurant in the Marriott Dearborn Inn. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

What If Life Could Be A Do-Over? Happy Groundhog Day!

Cranky retiree imagines what might be the results of some do-overs

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow today, which means six more weeks of winter

Feb. 2, 2012 - Novelist Rose Tremain is quoted as saying: “Life is not a dress rehearsal”. Accordingly there are no second rounds – we get one chance – one moment – and consequently there is no looking back at what could have been. Sounds pretty depressing doesn’t it? But what if you could go back with the knowledge of what went wrong and repeat the day or the event. That would be neat! Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

What Will You Be Doing 12/21/12, When Mayan World Ends?

Mayan calendar suggests world will end 12/21/12; end of world predicted many times but we are still here

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Mayan Calendar for 2012Jan. 25, 2012 - Each year in December one can always hear the strains from the song “What are you doing New Year’s Eve”? For those of you who want to travel down memory lane with me, here are the opening lyrics:

Maybe it’s much too early in the game
But I thought I’d ask you just the same
        What are you doing New Year’s?
        New Year’s Eve?
Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Some Columns You Won’t See This Columnist Write in the Senior Journal

Fallout from making comments often results in confrontations - time this writer not willing to concede

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Bill Kalmar as he might picture himself!Dec. 19, 2011 - As a frequent columnist for “The Senior Journal” and several other publications I have learned that there are certain topics that are out of bounds. These are topics that elicit heated debate, irate e-mails and phone calls and the occasional cancelling of a newspaper or magazine subscription. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Before You ‘Gobble, Gobble’ Give Some Thanks

Cranky retiree finds something to be happy about – his favorite holiday, his AARP card, Cracker Barrel...

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Nov. 18, 2011 - Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday! Unlike other holidays, there is no pretentiousness. One just arrives at the host home dressed in an everyday wardrobe and not encumbered with loads of presents. Now that is not to say that as a guest you can’t bring a tasty food dish or a bottle of wine for the host, or perhaps don your favorite gaudy holiday sweater, but it is a day to enjoy great company, wonderful food and exciting football. What could be better than that? Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Will Jason Be Out Trick or Treating?

A trip to the emergency room... later that evening revealed a severe sprain and I was on crutches for several days

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Oct. 21, 2001 - October is always an interesting time of the year. In preparation for the beginning of holiday activities, stores began erecting displays for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukah, and Christmas weeks ago. And let’s not forget “Sweetest Day” which is celebrated on October 15, mainly in the Midwest. All this of course on the heels of just celebrating “Talk Like A Pirate Day” which evidently has become a national event. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Is St. Peter Really The Keeper Of The Keys?

‘I am always amazed at the number of keys and artifacts some people carry around…’

By Bill Kalmar

Oct. 7, 2011 - We are told that St. Peter has the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven and that he stands in front of a wrought iron gate only allowing in certain people who have lived exemplary lives. I suspect that he has only one large key - maybe a skeleton key (heh heh)! Read more...


Savings to Be Found in Medicare with Market-Based Reforms

9/22/11 - In an op-ed published today in The Hill, Michael Leavitt, former Secretary HHS,  and Hudson Institute Senior Fellow and Former Deputy Secretary of HHS, Tevi Troy argue that the market-based principles of the landmark Medicare Part D prescription drug program can be used for larger-scale health care reform.

"The Medicare prescription drug plan works because it is market-based, allowing seniors to choose from a selection of private sector insurance plans," they write.

"As the deficit super committee struggles to meet the budget targets, politicians on both the left and the right should look to the Part D model as a valuable example of a bipartisan, effective and economically-promising health care reform."

Click here to read full text.

Click here and here to view video highlights of panel discussions.

Leavitt spoke to a Hudson Institute audience last week. Hudson is a nonpartisan policy research organization dedicated to innovative research and analysis. http://www.hudson.org

Editorial: Social Security far from a 'Ponzi scheme'

9/12/11 - As government programs go, Social Security is enormously popular, one supported by all presidents of both parties since its founding in 1935. It is the main reason that the percentage of seniors in poverty has dropped to roughly 10% from what many experts believe was more than 50% during the Great Depression. About 90% of voters of both parties say it has been very good or good for the country. USA Today Editorial

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Tales From The Trails: Cranky Old Retiree Marvels at the Midwest

No biker helmet laws in some states, lots of corn for E85, return the coffee sleeve? Special: plea for unity on 9-11

Sept. 2, 2011 - Several months ago we traveled across the heartland of America from Michigan to St. Louis and I remarked about the lack of crops in Indiana and Illinois farmlands. There was a paucity (I like that word!) of corn and soy beans which are crops one normally sees about that time of the year. Well, guess what? Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Who Says You Can’t Go Home? 50th High School Reunion Works Well!

Cranky old retiree finds he and classmates have mellowed out

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

James Dean in Rebel Without a CauseAug. 3, 2011 - Most of us, I’m confident, have some rather significant events in our lives that bring joy and excitement. It could be marriage, the birth of a child – perhaps a first grandchild, a new home or retirement. Somewhere in all those events many of us will experience the thrill of our 50th high school reunion. Read more...

Senior Citizen Politics

Senior League Flatly Opposes Social Security Cuts for Those 50+, But Cites Alternatives

Proposals include raising payroll tax cap, raising retirement age, adding public workers

July 18, 2011 – The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) makes clear its opposition to benefit cuts in Social Security that would impact any Americans age 50 or older, but says there are alternatives to reduce the budget in less painful ways. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Do You Have Any Green Bananas? Cranky Old Retiree Ponders Buying Them

Retirees still flooding to high school class reunions, some even having their 75th!

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

July 16, 2011 - A review of any newspaper at this time of the year will reveal a number of schools announcing reunions. Our local paper today has over thirty announcements detailing the date and location of various reunions and asking for the graduates to contact the committee, if they have not already done so. Both my wife, Mary, and I will be celebrating our 50th high school reunion this year. Read more...

Senior Citizen Opinions & Analysis

Sleep Problems Usually Covered by Insurance, Medicare Covering More

Medicare pay for sleep testing increased from $62 million in 2001 to $235 million in 2009; Medicare now covers dental appliance for sleep apnea

By Michelle Andrews, Kaiser Health News

July 12, 2011 - The diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders have come a long way in recent years. In the past, people who snored might be advised to sew a tennis ball onto the back of their pajama top. The "snore ball" would discourage them from sleeping on their back and might quiet their droning. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Please Don’t 'Text' or 'Friend Me' Pleads Cranky Old Retiree

Columnist Bill Kalmar may speak for many digitally frustrated senior citizens

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

June 22, 2011 - By way of background, I am a senior citizen, but not technically challenged. I know how to operate my HD television and the DVR. I have a cell phone and understand how to use the speaker phone. OnStar is in my car, along with a TomTom GPS. As a way to connect to the past though, I do have a Sony Walkman that accompanies me on my daily runs. But don’t ask me about “blue tooth”, whatever that is! Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Rants and Raves from a Michigan Retiree Watching the World Go Round

Royal Wedding earns a major 'rant' but Prince may be right in fuel for his car

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

May 5, 2011 - Sitting here in my home office contemplating another dreary day in Michigan. When will all this rotten weather come to an end! And don’t even mention that dirty rotten rat, AKA Punxsutawney Phil, who predicted an early spring! He better not poke his head out especially while my two friends Cooter and Bubba are hunting for him! Read more...

Senior Citizen Opinions & Analysis

GOP Plan Replaces Medicare’s Guaranteed Benefits with ‘Premium Support’ Payment

Budget does not address root of high Medicare costs -rising costs in the entire health care sector

By Joe Baker, President, Medicare Rights Center

April 5, 2011 – The math of the proposed House budget, introduced today by Budget Committee Chairman Ryan, is really quite simple - Medicare consumers (those over 65 and people with disabilities) pay more for health care and the federal government pays a lot less. The proposal ends Medicare as we know it today, replacing Medicare’s guaranteed benefits with a “premium support” payment or voucher that consumers can use to buy private insurance. Read more...

No More Senior Moments On The Health Law That Moves Into Year Two

Senior citizens should lead the way in granting Affordable Care Act the time in needs to prove its worth

Judith L. Lichtman, Senior Adviser and former President of the National Partnership for Women & Families

March 25, 2011 -This week, my mother turns 97 and the Affordable Care Act turns one. I am 70. If the polls are to be believed, Mom and I are exceptions in our age group because we support the new health reform law. That's a triumph of fear over fact - and it's terribly sad. Read more...

The Donald Berwick Predicament: Draws High Praise as Head of CMS but Won’t Be Confirmed

‘Universally regarded… thoughtful guy who is not partisan;’ endorsed by two former GOP heads of CMS but GOP senators say 'No'

By Harold Pollack and Christopher Lillis, M.D., Kaiser Health News

Donald Berwick, acting head of Centers for Medicare & MedicaidMarch 14, 2011 - Dr. Donald Berwick runs the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. He now serves under a recess appointment that will expire at the end of this year. And, although the president could take the politically risky step of extending his tenure with another recess appointment, officially naming him to run the agency for the long haul would require Senate confirmation. News reports suggest that this won't happen. Berwick may not even receive a hearing. Read more...

Senior Citizen Opinions & Analysis

Why Social Security Isn't a Problem for 26 Years, and the Best Way to Fix It Permanently

Social Security isn't responsible for federal deficit - just the opposite. Until last year it took in more than it paid out. It lent the surpluses to the government

Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, Clinton AdministrationBy Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor

Feb. 26, 2011 - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican presidential hopeful, says in order to "save" Social Security the retirement age should be raised. The media are congratulating him for his putative "courage." Deficit hawks are proclaiming Social Security one of the big entitlements that has to be cut in order to reduce the budget deficit. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Cranky Old Retiree Has a Lump or Two for Those Boys and Girls a Bit Naughty in 2010

‘…for the youngsters who might have been a bit ornery during the year there was always the proverbial lump of coal in a sock’

Get a lump of coal tin from etsy.comBy Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Dec. 16, 2010 - Christmas morning is always an exciting time for millions of boys and girls who have been good all year. Laden under a beautifully decorated tree will be an assortment of gifts - some electronic gizmos, maybe a doll or two, some sports equipment, and maybe even some clothes. When we were growing up many years ago there might have been a buggy whip or a butter churner! No, just kidding, but back then an Erector Set or a Sears J.C. Higgins bicycle was a most welcome gift from Santa. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Sights and Sounds and Experiences and Wonderment of Holiday Travel for One Senior

James Dean from James Dean MuseumJames Dean museum - are there really any people attracted to a film star who had only about three movies? Then again, Justin Bieber, a teenager, has already written his autobiography.

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Dec. 8, 2010 - Travel during the Holidays has always been an American tradition whether it is to visit family and relatives or to take that restful trip to a warm island climate. ... holiday travel can be exhausting, exhilarating or just plain fun. Read more...

Senior Citizen Opinions & Analysis

How Senior Citizens Can Get the Most Out of the Season

The open-enrollment period gives seniors a valuable opportunity to get the most out of their Medicare drug benefit

By Peter Pitts, Center for Medicine in the Public Interest

Nov. 23, 2010 - The holiday season is here. From peppermint lattes and potato latkes, carols to dreidels, there are reminders at every twist and turn. Seniors should also be reminded that it's time to sign up for Medicare's prescription drug benefit, known as Part D. From now until the end of the year, seniors can enroll in Part D or switch from their existing plan to a new one. Read more...

Medicare's Drug Benefit is a Remedy that Really Works: A Striking Success for Veterans' Families

Many of the wives and husbands of former military personnel rely on Medicare to pay their medical bills

By William M. Matz, Jr., Major General, US Army Retired

Nov. 16, 2010 - Five years in, Medicare's prescription drug benefit is a striking success. The program, known as Medicare Part D, gives tens of millions of seniors access to life-enhancing medicines and dramatically lowers out-of-pocket spending. Read more...

Living the Retired Life

Thank God for Unanswered Prayers! As Garth Brooks Says, Some of God's Greatest Gifts

'The entire monastery would pray for me and after a week, if I still felt like leaving, I could'

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Sept. 8, 2010 - Country star Garth Brooks always seems to record songs with meaning and feeling.  Such was the case when he penned “Unanswered Prayers”.  Here is the chorus:

   Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers.
   Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
   That just because he doesn't answer doesn't mean he don't care.
   Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.

I mention this because, as school has started for many in our state, I can hearken back to my own days in parochial school where fully garbed nuns were the standard. Read more...

Living the Retired Life

Retiree Columnist Finds Ways for Senior Citizens to Save in Tough Times

Today’s Letter is “C”. Can you say Cancel? Don’t forget to ask for the astronaut room upgrade!

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Aug. 26, 2010 - By way of background,  I am among the ranks of our nation’s retirees and have been since 2003.  It is a wonderful lifestyle and I can’t imagine ever returning to the rat race of the employed.  There are many perks associated with being retired as most everyone who is in that category will probably attest to.  Read more...

Opinions & Analysis for Senior Citizens

Reverse Mortgages: MSNBC ‘Consumer Man’ Gets It Wrong Says Industry Leader

It's so easy to attack with fears of generalities when you don't have to back up your claims with facts

Michael G. Branson, CEO, All Reverse Mortgage Company  

July 28, 2010 - I just read an article on reverse mortgages and how they can lead to big trouble. After I read the entire article, I became enraged. Not just angry, but really, really mad due to the fact that the man who calls himself the "ConsumerMan" obviously has no real understanding of the product and is reporting several items as "fact" that are completely false. I want to take on this method of reporting but not by just slamming the individual, but also by pointing out why he's completely missing the boat. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

How Seniors Can Cut Back on Expenses in Current Economy Can Get a Little Ridiculous

To conserve water how about just using the neighbor’s bathroom?

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

July 21, 2010 - The current economic uncertainty has many of us seeking ways to cut back on expenses and streamline our lifestyle.  Using grocery discount coupons or looking for those “buy one - get one free” meal tickets have become commonplace.  Restaurants have recognized the changes in dining habits and have established reduced pricing on various menu items.  And those of us who are seniors can always take advantage of special buying days for us oldsters such as 15% off on purchases on Wednesday at Kohls Department store. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Kingston Trio Ballad of ‘A Worried Man’ Reminds Us Many Celebrities Could Sing a Worried Song

LeBron James, Lindsay Lohan, Mel Gibson, etal - Don’t now how many are singing a ‘worried song’ but perhaps these should

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

July 14, 2010 - Perhaps there are some of you readers who recall, or some who may be too embarrassed to admit,  that they remember The Kingston Trio.  Back in the 50’s this American folk and pop music group was one of the most listened to singing ensembles in the nation.  Their LP albums (yes, albums – not CDs) sold millions of copies.  I am not too proud to admit that I was and still am an ardent fan. Read more, watch video of 'A Worried Man'

Senior Citizen Opinions & Analysis

The Medicare 'Doc Fix': How to Make Political Lemonade

By Austin Frakt, Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management
Boston University’s School of Public Health

June 29, 2010 - The mechanism that governs the growth rate of Medicare spending on physician services isn’t working. The Sustainable Growth Rate put in place in 1997 is supposed to keep total Medicare physician costs from growing faster than the overall economy. When costs do grow too quickly–and they always do–the law demands that prices be cut commensurately. Read more...

The Red, White and Blue Are Still The Envy Of The World!

The flag has become the symbol for a people who are kind, generous and hard-working

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

June 18, 2010 - Summer in our nation is a time for frolicking, friends, and fireworks.  Pleasant weather and the urge to participate in outdoor activities such as picnicking, swimming, camping, boating, biking or just sitting in a comfortable lounge chair outside as the soft winds of summer caress our hair seems to be on many an agenda.  Read more...

Senior Citizen Opinions & Analysis

Medicare Advantage: You Get What You Pay For

‘Big changes to Medicare are coming, beginning with Medicare Advantage, the program that provides private insurance alternatives to traditional fee-for-service Medicare’

By Austin Frakt, Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management
Boston University’s School of Public Health

June 15, 2010 - The Obama administration seems worried. In an election year, any change to Medicare that adversely affects beneficiaries is a political liability for incumbents. And big changes to Medicare are coming, beginning with Medicare Advantage, the program that provides private insurance alternatives to traditional fee-for-service Medicare, the program’s public option. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Do You Still Have Ice Cube Trays? Columnist Struggling with Modern World

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ice_cube_tray.jpgMay 4, 2010 - Those of us who are senior citizens, or as we are sometimes called – “those in the autumn of their years.” have seen a lot of changes in the world. If one could just take a snapshot right now of what is in our home, our automobile or what we can purchase in the various stores, one would quickly realize that we are living in a remarkable time. Read more...

Senior Citizen Opinions & Analysis

Medicare Advantage Competitive Pricing: The Political Failure of a Good Idea

‘There should be a better way to pay Advantage plans, one less likely to be a taxpayer rip-off…’

Austin Frakt, Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management
Boston University’s School of Public Health

Apr 13, 2010 - Few Americans should be satisfied with the way the government pays private health insurance plans that participate in the Medicare Advantage program. Taxpayers pay 14 percent more to insure a beneficiary through the Advantage program than through traditional, fee-for-service Medicare, the program’s “public option.” The new health reform law–the Affordable Care Act--will reduce, but not eliminate, the additional payments to Advantage plans. Medicare beneficiaries are concerned about the reductions in Advantage plan availability and generosity that will result from those payment cuts. Read more...

It’s Time To Coordinate Care for the Disabled and Frail Elderly

An obscure provision of the Senate health bill attempts to at least crack that barrier

By Howard Gleckman, Senior Research Associate at the Urban Institute

Jan. 8, 2010 - Since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid nearly 45 years ago, the government has operated on the bizarre illusion that it can separate acute medical care from personal assistance and long-term care. For real patients and their families, this makes no sense. Someone who is sick often needs both medical treatment and personal care. They should not have to worry about which is which. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

No Rear View Mirrors!

A sign of the times that makes a columnist rethink his attitude on retirement

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Jan. 6, 2010 - Besides penning a column periodically for SeniorJournal.com, I also write for a number of other newspapers and publications. One of those columns for a paper distributed in Michigan and neighboring states is entitled, “Retired…(and lovin’ it).” But here’s the dilemma: the more I talk to people still in the workforce and hear their stories of incompetent managers, ambiguous directions from supervisors, secret meetings, December dismissals, and other mind numbing workplace activities, I’m thinking that column title should be updated to read, “Retired…(and really, truly lovin’ it).” Read more...

Senior Citizen Opinions & Analysis

Why $75-A-Day Matters to Caregivers

Three-quarters of disabled need care due to a long-term physical disability, nearly one of six is suffering from dementia or ‘confusion’

Howard Gleckman, Senior Research Associate at the Urban Institute

Dec. 14, 2009 - In the ongoing congressional debate over the CLASS Act—the proposed national long-term care insurance program—critics and supporters have been arguing over whether a benefit of $50- or even $75-a-day is worthwhile. Some in the insurance industry, for instance, assert that given the high cost of care in nursing facilities and even at home, a $75 benefit is hardly worth the premium cost. Read more...

The CLASS Act: A Flawed But Powerful Game-Changer for Long-Term Care

Health care reform may also provide Americans with long-term care insurance

By Howard Gleckman, Senior Research Associate at the Urban Institute

Nov 30, 2009 - Congress may be about to make major changes in the way 10 million frail elderly and adults with disabilities pay for long-term care services. Buried in both the House-passed health bill and the Senate Democratic leadership measure, the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act would, for the first time, create a national long-term care insurance program. Read more...

Congress Targets Senior Abuse in Elder Justice Act as Part of Health Care Reform

‘As part of health care overhaul legislation, lawmakers are taking steps that would for the first time establish a federal beachhead in fighting elder abuse’

Produced in collaboration by the Los Angeles Times and Kaiser Health News

Nov. 23, 2009 - When it comes to political, social or health causes, elder abuse has not had the star power of some other movements focusing on the rights of vulnerable people. Last month, actress Nicole Kidman headlined a congressional hearing on violence against women, and stars of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" appeared at a Capitol Hill rally for child-abuse victims. An event sponsored by a coalition of elder abuse groups, meanwhile, featured ordinary senior citizens, recounting in sometimes aching detail how they or their loved ones had been physically and emotionally abused or financially exploited. Read more...

Aging In Place Is Not So Easy

The reasons may have more to do with social issues than medical concerns

By Howard Gleckman, Senior Research Associate Urban Institute

Oct 26, 2009 - 'Aging in Place' is the popular rallying cry in the senior community. But living at home is not so easy, either for the frail elderly or younger people with disabilities. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Maybe Howie Mandel Has the Right Idea, At Least When It Comes to Avoiding H1N1 Flu

First concern for me is the customary shaking of hands us Catholics engage in at Mass

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Sept. 3, 2009 - Newspapers and airwaves have been inundated with news of the impending swine flu, or H1N1 influenza, which gives it a more ominous sounding! And, speaking of ominous, the World Health Organization predicts that within two years, nearly one-third of the world’s population will have caught it! “What we know is, it’s brand new and no one really has an immunity to this disease,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebilius says. Read more...

Senior Citizen Opinions & Analysis

Would Americans Welcome Medicare if It Were Being Proposed in 2009?

‘One of the ironies in all of this is that the strongest critics of health care reform, and those most worried about government involvement in health care, are seniors, who are satisfied with their Medicare-provided health care’

By Andrew Kohut, President, Pew Research Center

Andrew Kohut, President, Pew Research CenterAug. 26, 2009 - Many Americans are balking again at the prospect of health care reform. This is surprising in light of how much priority the public gave health care as an issue during the presidential campaign, and how critical it was of President Bush's failure to act on this issue. But after a few months of hearing about it, a number of recent polls find the public divided over the health care proposals being considered on Capitol Hill. Read more...

Senior Citizens Must Stand Up to Lies that Health Reform Bill Will Allow Government to Kill Them

 

Unbelievable

Rep. Foxx Suggests Health Care Reform Will Cause Seniors To Be "Put To Death By Their Government" ..link to video in story

 
 

Equally Unbelievable

Woman of many faces says health care bill will "pressure the elderly to end their lives prematurely" Link in news story.

 

Right-wing stoops to new low in attacks on health reform to protect profits of insurance companies

By Tucker Sutherland, editor & publisher, SeniorJournal.com

Aug. 1, 2009 – The political right wing is sinking to new lows in a desperate attempt to protect insurance companies from losing any profits due to health care reform advocated by President Obama. And, they are targeting senior citizens as the voter group most likely to swallow their lie, which is that the legislation will “pressure the elderly to end their lives prematurely.” That is a lie and seniors must not fall for it. Read more, link to video....

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Lots a ‘Jerks’ in the News Drawing the Ire of the Grouchy Old Man from Michigan

Palin is obviously ready to assume the role of “national joke” and I say that from a lifetime of voting Republican!

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

July 16, 2009 - One of the advantages of retirement is just to lie down in my hammock, listen to the chirping of the birds or a colorful woodpecker tap away on a tree, watch squirrels scamper around the woods foraging for food, and reflect on some events of the day. Here is what has been bubbling up in my cranium lately: Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Cranky Old Man Explains How Retirement Works for Those Who Worry What to Do

For those who think retirement is time to prepare for one’s “dirt nap”, think again! 

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

June 22, 2009 - Some of our friends who have yet to experience the joy of retirement wonder what they will do all day once they jettison themselves from the daily grind of work. It is their feeling that retirees sit home all day and watch “Court TV” and reruns of “The Andy Griffith Show”.  Balderdash!  Read more...

Seniors Body Clock Ticking Better than Ever after Robotic Surgery Removes Prostate Cancer

An anniversary to savor with a 8 miles of running and 18-mile bike ride

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

May 28, 2009 - Depending on your preference, the one-year anniversary is "paper" but in modern times it has been replaced by "clocks."  Frankly, I prefer the latter and permit me to explain. June 2 will mark the one-year anniversary of my robotic surgery for prostate cancer. Read more...

Columnist Happy Today as Grandmother Celebrates 105 Tomorrow - 105 Must be New 90!

Marianne Linari remains vibrant and continues to enjoy the influx of family and friends; has 38 great-great grandchildren, great grandchildren and grandchildren

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

May 21, 2009 - On May 22, my grandmother, Marianne Linari will be 105!  Yes, you read that correctly – 105!  Mrs. Linari resides in Eastpointe, Michigan with her 89-year-old sister Anne.  Nonnie (as her 10 grandchildren – 15 great grandchildren – and 13 great-great grandchildren call her) was born in Italy and spent most of her life in Mulberry, Kansas – a town located in the southeast portion of the state on the Missouri border. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Let’s Opine About the Swine! Stirs Memory of Y2K Scare that Evaporated at Stroke of Midnight

Hoping to hear those soothing words from Porky Pig – ‘That’s all folks!’ - signaling the conclusion of all this flu madness

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

May 18, 2009 - Now that “Breaking News” about impending snowstorms has dissipated, the media has a new reason to interrupt our restful television watching by bombarding us with swine flu updates. As each new suspected case of the flu surfaces we are informed about it in almost breathless recitations from reporters on the scene. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

It’s Hard to Be Cranky with Quality and Customer Service On the Rebound

That was the week that was! I'm not even cranky anymore!

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

May 1, 2009 - Most of us I suspect have had a week that we would prefer relegating to our mental recycle bin.  But every now and then we have a week that is truly remarkable – I recently had such a week that soundly confirmed my contention that customer service is rebounding and doing so in large leaps! (Now, if our Detroit Pistons had rebounded better, perhaps we wouldn’t have been swept in the first round of the playoffs, but that’s a column for another time!) Read more...

Senior Citizen Opinions & Analysis

President Obama’s Budget Puts Focus of Medicare Back Where It Should Be

‘In recent years Medicare has become a cash cow for insurance companies’

By Paul Precht, Medicare Rights Center
Director of Policy and Communications

March 2, 2009 - The budget proposed by President Obama redirects the focus of Medicare spending back where it belongs - the efficient delivery of high-quality health care to America’s older adults and people with disabilities. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

Believe It or Not, the Cranky Old Man Has Some Things He Likes

Wisest choice - wife of 45 years who has put up with his idiosyncrasies and being a cranky old man

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Feb. 23, 2009 - The opening lyrics from “The Sound of Music” are melodic and memorable:
    Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,
    Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens,
    Brown paper packages tied up with strings,
    These are a few of my favorite things.

Actually, I have some favorite things, which do not include woolen mittens or copper kettles! Read more...

Senior Citizen Opinions & Analysis

Claims that ‘Brain Exercise’ Does Not Slow Cognitive Decline Challenged by Major Studies

Story grabbed headlines like, ‘$80 million per year brain exercise industry a crock?; as new studies show brain training helps

By Tucker Sutherland, editor & publisher

Feb. 20, 2009 – If you want to grab the headlines, come up with something negative, counter to current thinking and challenging to something important. A study in Alzheimer’s & Dementia did just that by claiming there is no evidence supporting the benefits of “brain exercise” in slowing cognitive decline. That’s how the media saw the story. In the fine print, however, the author’s admit their review was “limited by a small, heterogeneous, and methodologically limited literature.” Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Says Our Cranky Old Man

He is mad, really mad and wants you to know the reasons; they may be making you mad, too

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Feb. 10, 2009 - In the 1963 movie of the same name, a group of people search for a fortune in hidden money and it demonstrates how human greed makes it a hilarious if unnecessary race for something for nothing.  Recent stories in the news seem to present a repeat of this classic movie as people are searching for their pile of gold and in some instances are exhibiting the greed side of their personality.  I think the following stories will illustrate that.. Read more...

Senior Citizen Opinions & Analysis

Obama Does Not Mention Social Security or Medicare in Inaugural; Seniors Should Speak Out

He does ask for public input; New Public Liaison & Intergovernmental Affairs, daily blog seem to be best online places to respond

By Tucker Sutherland, editor & publisher

Jan. 21, 2009 – It was somewhat surprising that President Obama did not mention Social Security or Medicare in his inaugural address yesterday. Hopefully, this is no indication that he is retreating from comments just days ago indicating he would begin almost immediately to work on improving their financial viability. A window did open, as his staff moved into the White House yesterday afternoon, asking for suggestions from the public and senior citizens need to act now to let their voices be heard. Read more...

Senior Citizen Opinions & Analysis

President Obama Appears Poised to Tackle the Future of Senior Citizen Programs Quickly

We can’t kick this can any further down the street, the new president says

By Tucker Sutherland, editor & publisher

Jan. 20, 2009 – It is a momentous day in America and senior citizens, who have seen the most of our history, are the most aware of today’s historic significance. We now live in a different and better country. Americans have handed the mantle of power and leadership to a young, brilliant, man of African descent. So, President Barack Obama has crossed the bar but he must now face one of the most challenging environments ever to greet an incoming president. Senior citizens will be impacted by his leadership in the same way as all Americans on many issues, but will also have a unique set of concerns – primarily involving Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Read more...

Opining of a Cranky Old Man:

Disgusting: Babies in Public, Kids Gone Wild, Adults Unaware of Digital TV, Sports Taking Over Family

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Jan. 12, 2009 - Just the other day a friend of mine mentioned that after reading several of my columns he concluded that I was a “cranky old man”.  As I looked back on some past articles I had to agree that at times I assumed that role.  But I would rather liken my opinions to that of a curmudgeon – an ill-tempered old man, which sounds less threatening. 

Senior Citizen Opinions & Analysis

A Retiree’s Lament: Stop The World I Want To Get Off!

Editor’s Note: Ever wonder why people often refer to senior citizens as “cranky old men.” Read this column by our occasional contributor, who is a retired senior.

By Bill Kalmar, Retiree

Dec. 31, 2008 - Well, it’s that time of the year again.  The usual number of prognosticators, soothsayers and mind readers are emerging from their cocoons to tantalize us with those irritating lists, which attempt to capture what was best in the past year and what we can expect in 2009. While reading these lists I sometimes feel that I am living in a parallel universe! Read more...

Top Ten Things One Senior Citizen Wants When Holiday Shopping

Editor’s Note: Ever wonder why people often refer to senior citizens as “cranky old men.” Read this column by our occasional contributor, who is a retired senior.

By Bill Kalmar, retiree

Dec. 3, 2008 - As we move into the frenzy of the Holiday shopping season most of us will have encounters with shopping center store personnel and restaurant staff.  Stores and restaurants will be filled with people looking for that perfect gift, then quickly digesting a meal in order to be prepared for another crazed journey searching for another perfect gift.  Let’s hope that we can do so with a minimum amount of stress and confusion.  In that regard here are my tips to make that a reality... Read more...

Medicare has Created Wild West Marketplace, Older Americans Ripe for Exploitation

President of Medicare Rights Center on choice of prescription drug and Medicare health plans for 2009

By Robert M. Hayes, President, Medicare Rights Center

Sept. 26, 2008 - Once again, all across the country, people with Medicare will face for 2009 a bewildering choice of nearly 50 prescription drug plans and over 40 Medicare health plans, including HMOs, PPOs, and private fee-for-service plans of every variety. It is a Wild West marketplace and older Americans are ripe for exploitation. Read more...

New Adventures of An Old Senior Citizen or Facing the Reality of Aging

Watching Old Christine acclimate herself to new challenges impacted me as I entered 2008 looking forward to turning 65

By Bill Kalmar

Sept. 12, 2008 - One of the bright spots in an otherwise bland TV season features an alumnus from the successful “Seinfeld” program, namely Julia Louis-Dreyfus who stars in the “New Adventures of Old Christine”.  It monitors the lifestyle changes of a divorcee attempting to re-enter the world of dating and socializing.  Its humor is sophisticated and yet somewhat zany. Read more...

What Happens Every December? The Battle to Stop Medicare from Cutting Physician Pay

Usually the proposed cuts are just pushed ahead but this year looks different - although Washington stockings are getting filled

By Tucker Sutherland, editor

Dec. 7, 2007 – Just like Thanksgiving comes every November, the battle over Medicare cutting the pay of doctors comes every December. Once again, Medicare has announced a big pay cut, the physicians and their lobby are pouring money into the political stockings held by the Washington politicians, and, alas, once again the pay cut will be avoided. This year, however, the stakes appear a little larger, battle lines are more skewed and it is harder to predict how the politicians will make it happen. Read more...

Senior Citizen Health & Medicine

Senior Citizens Must Join Campaign to Require Hospitals Report Staph Infections

Consumers Union urges Congress to enact HR 1174 (Murphy) to spur hospitals to reduce deadly infections

By Tucker Sutherland, Editor & Publisher

 

“Every day, fifty Americans die from MRSA because hospitals aren’t doing enough to protect patients from these deadly infections,” - Lisa McGiffert, Director of Consumers Union’s Stop Hospital Infections campaign

 

Nov. 8, 2007 – The news that nearly 19,000 Americans died in 2005 from antibiotic-resistant staph infections – mostly acquired in health care facilities – and that it has increased 10 fold since 1995, should be shocking and extremely alarming to senior citizens, the most frequent visitors to healthcare settings. What is even more shocking is that most states allow hospitals to keep information about these infections secret, which has allowed the infection to spread rapidly with little public notice or protection. Seniors need to demand changes. Read more...

Senior Citizen Opinions & Analysis

Aging of America Will Affect Every Part of Society, Touch Every Family

Senior citizens deserve best quality of life our nation can afford

By Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), Chairman
Senate Special Committee on Aging

June 4, 2007 - Generation by generation, the face of America is always changing.  In the next quarter of a century, the laugh lines of that face will deepen as the number of older Americans explodes.  Today those over 65 account for 12 percent of our population; in 2030, they will account for 20 percent.  Academic experts, policy wonks, economists, and health care providers are conjecturing broadly about how this demographic wave will affect our society.  As Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, I am listening carefully. Read more...

New Health Spending Data Not Cause for Celebration

U.S. still spends twice what other industrialized countries spend per person; growth of 6.9% outpaces inflation and growth in wages

By Karen Davis, President, Commonwealth Fund

January 9, 2007 - Today’s release of new federal data on health care spending by researchers from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)* indicates that spending slowed for the third straight year in 2005 and that health spending as a percent of Gross Domestic Product held virtually constant at 16.0 percent, compared to 15.9 percent in 2004. Read more...

Opinion - Medicare Drug Program

Every Senior Citizen Should Reevaluate Their Drug Plan Choice

By Tucker Sutherland, editor

November 16, 2006 – The enrollment period for the Medicare drug program opened yesterday and all senior citizens should review their current drug plan and other options – some new – that are available to them. Many plans have changed (prices and/or benefits) and for many seniors their personal situations may have changed. For example, some took no drugs in 2006, but see a need in 2007, which would drastically change the type of plan they choose. Read more...

Senior Citizen Opinions & Analysis

Privatizing Medicare: The Train has Already Left the Station

By The Center for Medicare Advocacy

October 25, 2006 - While the country debates the merits and concerns about Social Security privatization, Medicare has been morphed into a set of private plans with little attention or discussion. The private Medicare train is already out of the station. Read more...

Workplace Not Like When We Were There – It's the Corporate Running of the Bulls

By Bill Kalmar, retired

October 3, 2006 - Rather than travel to Pamplona Spain to view the annual Running of the Bulls, one need go no further than the parking lots of our nation's companies. It is here that people described in the company's brochures as our "most important asset" are being herded and unceremoniously directed to their automobiles after years of service. Read more...


Opinion: Medicare Means Testing a Costly Slip

Senior citizen group supports House bill to repeal higher Medicare premiums based on income

Ralph McCutchen, chairman, TREA Senior Citizens LeagueBy Ralph McCutchen
Note: The following was written by Ralph McCutchen, chairman of the TREA Senior Citizens League, and first published September 1, 2006.

September 11, 2006 - For the first time since Medicare's creation 41 years ago, seniors will no longer pay the same amount for the same services. Premium rates for Part B - expected to be announced later this month by the Department of Health and Human Services for 2007 - now will be means tested, that is, determined based on income. Read more...

Opinions of a retiree

Thoughts of a Retiree in His Hammock on a Dog Day Afternoon

By Bill Kalmar, retired

July 12, 2006 - Being retired affords one the opportunity to periodically relax in a hammock on a hot summer afternoon inscribing answers in a cross-world puzzle and contemplating the latest world and local news. While trying to think of a three-letter word for "Thurman of the screen", my thoughts turn to a myriad of topics... Read more...

Opinion: Medicare

Drum Beat to Reduce Medicare Costs May Endanger Some Senior Citizens

Study says switching some from ICDs to AEDs could save money to help more seniors but it may also be way to just save money

By Tucker Sutherland, editor

 

"…it might be reasonable for Medicare to provide the less expensive defibrillator to many more Medicare beneficiaries." - Peter Cram, M.D.

 

June 19, 2006 – The growth of Medicare costs is undoubtedly the largest financial challenge facing the U.S. and a research team suggests the program can save millions by making tougher judgments on which senior citizens get implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), and which must settle for the less expensive, less reliable automated external defibrillators (AEDs). The thrust of the study, however, is not on reducing Medicare's cost, but on freeing up money to provide help to more seniors. Read more...

Opinions on Senior Issues

New Drugs: The Choice We Face

'The real problem with drug development is not the loudly proclaimed drug safety but the growing shortage of newer, more effective medicines'

By Robert Goldberg

June 5, 2006 - More and more Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease either as victims or caregivers. So when a vaccine was developed that may actually reverse this terrible, degenerative process, you would think it would be welcomed and fast-tracked through the federal bureaucracy. Think again. Read more...

Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Not in the Best Interest of the Seniors

'after learning the facts, I've lost both my trust and my faith in AARP'

Jewel Littenberg - Senior Advocate

June 3, 2006 - I found it hard to believe that some of the problems that were generated by the Medicare Prescription Drug plan were not realized at the time our legislators were preparing it. To have created a benefit plan that even PhD's have a hard time figuring out, somehow just didn't make sense. Read more...

Guest Opinion

Reaping Profits for the Reaper: Body Brokering Grows

Fresh body can bring $200,000 sold in parts, no end in sight to need

By Norma Sherry

April 29, 2006 - Grave robbers are back. Unlike the ghouls of the 1800’s who were caked in mud and slithered about cloaked in the dark of night today’s ghouls wear Armani and Rolex watches and prance about in the hollowed halls of modern day morgues, the finest universities, the best hospitals, and mortuary offices everywhere. Unlike yesterday’s loathsome stealers of bodies nowadays they are more likely the neighborhood mortician or hospital administrator or university professor. Read more...

Guest Opinion

The Big 'A' - As in Alzheimer's

A disease many of us will have to reckon with…

By Norma Sherry

April 25, 2006 - The Big A. Alzheimer’s Disease. A dreadful looming fear that rears its ugly head every time we walk into the other room and can’t remember why or momentarily can’t recall where we left our car keys, or who the voice is on the other end of the phone. These temporary lapses of memory, thankfully, are not precursors to Alzheimer’s. We’re told they are more likely indicators that we have too much on our minds. Read more...

Guest Opinion

Veterans Divided Are Easily Conquered on VA Health Care

National Commander Thomas L BockBy Thomas L. Bock
National Commander, American Legion

Feb. 25, 2006 - Generations of Pvt. Ryans have laid their lives on the line for America. They stormed the beaches on D-Day. They marched on frostbitten feet across war-torn Korea. They waded through swamp water in the Mekong Delta, rescued refugees from rooftops, intercepted missiles, flew reconnaissance missions, swabbed decks and removed tyrants from power. They may have earned a place in the Veterans Day parade, but far too many are denied access to VA medical care. Read more...

Our Opinion

AARP Controversy with Newspaper Emphasizes Its Conflicts

The Hill says AARP is softening on imported drugs, favoring Medicare drug plans like they help sell

By Tucker Sutherland, editor

Jan. 5, 2006 – Has AARP softened its support for imported drugs, because they find drugs are cheaper from the Medicare drug program than from Canada? The Hill, a newspaper "for and about the U.S. Congress," says they have, but AARP has fired back saying The Hill story is a "blatant mischaracterization of AARP's position." It's hard, however, not to question AARP's position when they are one of the major brokers of Medicare insurance programs. Read more...

Opinions

House Budget Bill Unfairly Punishes Elderly, ElderLawAnswers Warns

Leading elder law Website warns that House bill cutting Medicaid would drastically change asset transfer rules, punishing older Americans

Nov. 29, 2005 - House and Senate conferees will soon sit down to reconcile two very different budget bills that cut billions from the Medicaid program. The House bill, H.R. 4241, contains provisions that will punish unwitting elders who have given their families modest gifts, and will force some middle-income elderly to sell their homes and spend down the proceeds, warns ElderLawAnswers (www.elderlawanswers.com), the nation's leading elder law Web site. Read more...

Guest Opinion

Grandparents Can Make the Difference in Child Protection Crisis

A grandmother sounds a rally cry for grandparents to take action

By Christine Korn

There are a growing number of children finding themselves separated from their parents for one reason or another. The Child Protection Services agencies have determined that permanency in a child’s life is vital, and has expedited the process of attempting to rehabilitate a parent who has neglected or harmed his/her child. The current rule is that if the child has spent 15 of the past 22 months in an out of home placement, such as foster care, the states can petition the court to terminate the parental rights and seek adoptive homes for the children. At this point in the process, grandparents may step in and petition the court for custody. Read more...

Guest Opinion

Is It Armageddon For Customer Service?

By Bill Kalmar, retired

Aug. 26, 2005 - You see and hear them everyday – signs and commercials heralding that “Customer Service Is #1” or “We Treat You Like Family” or how about “The Customer Is Always Right”. The other day I came across a particularly revealing motto: “We’re Better Than We Used To Be!” Whatever the slogan or motto, as consumers we expect extraordinary customer service and frankly, if you are like me, retired and on a fixed income, you want to experience customer service beyond your expectations and you want those services and products to fit your budget. Read more...

Opinion

Long-Term Care Spurs Strong Recommendations from White House Conference Group

White House Conference on Aging's Long-Term Care Mini-Conference issues final report

By Tucker Sutherland, editor

Aug. 11, 2005 – Frankly, I was skeptical of any meaningful recommendations coming from the White House Conference on Aging's Long-Term Care Mini-Conference held last April, because many of those who organized and financed it were companies and organizations with a vested interest – particularly in selling insurance for long-term care. The final report was released today and I have to admit I was wrong. It is a frank and strong call for action by government and the private sector in meeting the long-term care crisis in America. Read more...

Opinion

I'm a Senior

By Michael Lipsky

April 20, 2005 - There's no denying it any longer. This month I'll be 65. I've enrolled in Medicare. I'll apply shortly for Social Security.

I'm a Senior.

Like many, I suppose, I began the journey to senior status gradually. One milestone was the time a kid asked me to throw him a ball that had gotten away from him, and called me "sir." Read more...

Editor's Opinion

Senate Aging Committee Goes Dark

At time when this committee is needed most it is slipping into dysfunction

By Tucker Sutherland, editor, SeniorJournal.com

March 4, 2005 – The Senate Aging Committee held a hearing yesterday entitled “Implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act: Delivering Prescription Drugs to Dual Eligibles,” which is one of the controversial parts of the Medicare bill that becomes effective in January. The committee, however, posted no notice for the media about the hearing and the links to testimony do not work today. A video recording is available on the committee’s Website. Read more...

Opinion

White House Social Security 'fact sheet' is anything but

By Robert Weiner, former chief of staff, House Aging Committee

Feb. 25, 2005 - Last week's White House fact sheet on Social Security contains anything but the facts. It asserts that by 2027 the government will somehow have to come up with an extra $200 billion a year, and by 2033, more than $300 billion. The "Strengthening Social Security for Future Generations" report goes on to predict that by 2042, "the system will be bankrupt." Read more...

Our Opinion

Social Security: Senior Citizens Should Sink the Swift Boaters; Throw a Life Preserver to AARP

Let's strengthen the system we have now, before considering private accounts

By Tucker Sutherland, editor, SeniorJournal.com

Feb. 21, 2005 – The battle over how to reform Social Security is about to get ugly. The Bush team hopes to squash the AARP by using some of the same tactics they used to dispatch John Kerry in the presidential race. The people responsible for the infamous “Swift Boat Veterans” campaign are now gearing up to sink AARP because of their opposition to the Bush plan to take money out of the Social Security program and put it in private investment accounts. Read more...

Guest Opinion

Social Security: Greater Returns For Whom?

By David J. Roberts
Associate Professor of Accountancy, DePaul University
(Mr. Roberts teaches tax policy)

Jan. 18, 2005 - In the debate over whether we should add personal accounts to Social Security, proponents have long argued that higher returns on investments through personal accounts are needed to save Social Security. But the whole concept of "returns" in a social insurance program like Social Security is deceivingly complex. Read more...

Guest Opinion

Bush Social Security Proposal Is a Rip-off of Baby Boomers

Jan. 17, 2005 - Baby boomers beware! You have contributed more to Social Security than any other generation, but there are those who would rip you off. You have gone that extra mile and prepaid the cost of your own retirement in addition to paying the cost of the generation that has preceded you, but you are being used as scapegoats for the problems facing Social Security. So writes Allen W. Smith in his continuing crusade for Social Security and his books on the topic. More... 1/17/05*

Guest Opinion

Is the Bush Social Security program just another attempt at clever fraud?

By Jewel Littenberg

Jan. 12, 2005 - The real battlefield concerning the privatization of Social Security is the minds of the American people. Read More... 1/12/05*

Bush is Selling a Trojan Horse, Says Author of 'The Looting of Social Security'

Greenspan wrote plan in 1983 that was to save Social Security

Dec. 15, 2004 - "President Bush is trying to sell his privatization proposal as a plan to save Social Security, when it is actually a clever scam designed to destroy the program that conservatives have hated since its enactment in 1935," says economist Allen W. Smith, Ph.D., author of the book, "The Looting of Social Security: How the Government is Draining America's Retirement Account." More... 12/15/04*

A Call for Senior Citizens to Help Other Seniors Enroll for Drug Discount Cards

We must help our fellow seniors enroll for drug discount cards - and enroll ourselves, if we have not

By Tucker Sutherland, editor

Dec. 9, 2004 – More than five million senior citizens are on the verge of losing $1,200 in free prescription drugs and it is time for senior citizens to take action to help our fellow Medicare beneficiaries. We must contact those we know who are eligible for this low-income credit and help them sign up before the Dec. 31 deadline. If they are not eligible for the low-income credit, help them sign up for a regular drug discount card. More... 12/09/04*

Guest Opinion

A Warning for Social Security Reformers

By Bernard Wasow, senior fellow and economist at The Century Foundation

Nov. 17, 2004 - While the administration is preparing its drive to replace part of Social Security with private investment accounts, an obscure government agency is planning to go to Congress to ask for a bail- out. The Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC), which guarantees private pension plans, just announced that its net liabilities are double earlier estimates, more than $23 billion. More... 11/17/04*

Guest Opinion

Social Security Investment Accounts Would Be Dangerous For Seniors

By David J. Roberts, Associate Professor of Accountancy, DePaul University

Nov. 13, 2004 - President Bush has indicated that, in his second term, the creation of personal accounts under Social Security will be a top priority.  Proponents of so-called personal accounts (to use the more politically marketable terminology for what is really partial privatization) typically argue that such accounts are needed to save Social Security.  But partial privatization would not likely "save" Social Security, and would probably cause serious harm to seniors and long-time participants in the current system. More... 11/13/04* 

Guest Opinion

Must The Elderly Be Driven To Destitution Before The Government Recognizes Their Need For Help?

By Jewel Littenberg - Senior Advocate

Nov. 5, 2004 - According to a recent report from the Family Caregiver Alliance, the fastest growing population group in the country, most in need of long-term care are the very old... age 85 and older. This age group is expected to reach 8.9 million persons in 2030. Based on these statistics, there's also a good chance that even if you remain fairly disease-free, you will eventually need care. Would you choose remaining in your own home or institutionalized in a nursing home? Read More... 11/05/04*

Opinion: Medicare Celebrates 39th Birthday but Not a Happy One

By Tucker Sutherland, editor

July 30, 2004 – Medicare turned 39 today but the program has to be feeling a lot older as it struggles to convince senior citizens to buy into the new discount drug card program, and it hears the White House announce a record federal deficit with $6 billion in unexpected Medicare-Medicaid expense, plus, a boost in the estimate of Medicare cost over the next five years of $67 billion. More... 7/30/04*

Sen. Larry Craig Responds to SeniorJournal.com Criticism of GOP Record on Senior Citizen Issues

Defending the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging and the Republican Commitment to America's Seniors

By U.S. Senator Larry Craig,

Chairman of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging

July 14, 2004 - As I read the recent editorial written by Tucker Sutherland titled, "Opinion: Placing Special Interest Above Senior Consumers -- Senate Aging Committee Continues Republican Assault on Senior Citizens' Rights," I was reminded of something a reporter for the Associated Press was quoted as saying in the mid-1990's.  She said that reporters get the news right about 72.3% of the time.  It appears that the same percentage is true for some editorials, and I appreciate the opportunity provided by the Senior Journal to set the record straight. More... 7/14/04*

Opinion: Placing Special Interest Above Senior Consumers

Senate Aging Committee Continues Republican Assault on Senior Citizens' Rights

By Tucker Sutherland, editor

July 13, 2004 - In another example of the Republican assault on senior citizen consumers, the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, controlled by Republican Senator Larry Craig, will hold a hearing on litigation in long-term care facilities without a consumer advocate or eldercare attorney on the witness list. More... 7/13/04*

Opinion: National Center for Public Policy Research

FDA Helped America's Drug Consumers By Not Banning Authorized Generics

July 12, 2004 - For years, generic drug manufacturers have been telling us that making more generic drugs available -- earlier -- is the key to saving consumers money and bringing greater access to prescription drugs. But now generic manufacturers are backpedaling on the issue and, like Goldilocks' selfish search for something to suit her "just right," the generic industry is rejecting the very competition they once told us was the Holy Grail. More... 7/12/04*

Senior Slant

Medicare Drug Card Sign-up Begins Today, But Seniors Should Wait Before Joining

By Tucker Sutherland, editor

May 3, 2004 – Beginning today, senior citizens can sign up for a $30 Medicare-approved drug discount card, but there is no reason to be in a hurry. The discounts will not be available until next month and you may not have all the information you need to make the best choice in a card. Last Friday, some of those card sponsors were claiming that prices on drugs for their cards that were posted on Thursday by Medicare are inaccurate. More... 5/3/04*

Senior Slant

Senior Citizens Must be Cautious in Sharing Information on Web

By Tucker Sutherland, editor

April 20, 2004 - Fraudulent emails seeking to persuade you to provide the sender with personal financial data that can be used to rob you is increasing dramatically and senior citizens may be considered easy targets. These attacks increased by 43 percent in March – 13 new attacks per day sent to millions of consumers. More... 4/20/04*

The Senior Slant

High Praise for Website About Civil Rights in America

By Tucker Sutherland, editor, SeniorJournal.com

April 1, 2004 - Senior citizens have a greater concept of the civil rights struggle in this country, because we lived through so many of the critical periods. Like me, you probably went to segregated schools, and as a child tried your best and failed to really understand it all. Now there is an excellent Website sponsored by AARP and Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) that captures this piece of history effectively and makes good use of the presentation possibilities of the Internet. More... 4/01/04*

The Senior Slant

Medicare Has Changed; Seniors Need to Make a Decision

By Tucker Sutherland, editor, SeniorJournal.com

March 9, 2004

Like it are not, Medicare has changed and in a matter of weeks senior citizens will face a decision about joining a drug discount plan sponsored by Medicare.

Read this column on what you need to know about your Medicare drug discount card. - Click Here

Should AARP Have Endorsed the Medicare Drug Bill?

By Tucker Sutherland, editor, SeniorJournal.com

Nov. 18, 2003 - The Medicare drug bill, described as the “compromise agreement,” looks like it is better than nothing, but the endorsement of the plan by the AARP is making me take a second look. More... 11/18/03*

Is There No Shame in Congress?

By Tucker Sutherland, editor

   Oct. 24, 2003 - You would think the U.S. economy was great and the federal budget was awash with money, the way Congress continues to spend – particularly on themselves

   It’s almost unbelievable but the Senate gave themselves a pay raise yesterday of 2.2 percent, to over $158,000 a year.  Aren’t these the same people who have been complaining about corporate executives getting pay increases when their companies are doing poorly?

   They also gave most federal workers an increase of 4.1 percent.

   The Senate voted 60 to 34 to reject a proposal by Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) to kill the raise for lawmakers. Feingold noted that the five-year pay increase for Congress of $21,000 is larger than the $17,796 average annual Social Security benefit for a retired married couple… or the $16,068 a full-time worker earns over 18 months at minimum wage.

   The House had earlier approved the pay raise - on their first day back from summer vacation.

Home Share Program is Great Idea

By Tucker Sutherland, Editor

July 17, 2003 - We received a plea to our “email bag” from Karen in San Francisco, who was seeking an older person in Spain, who would provide her housing in exchange for care services. This concept struck us as a great idea and with a little help we found a Web site that promotes this idea and has a national directory to local Home Share programs. Click 7/17/03*

What Does Election Mean for Seniors: Action, Maybe Not What We Want

By Tucker Sutherland, editor

Nov. 6, 2002 - The Republican capture of government control probably means we will see action on key senior issues but the solutions passed will have a strong private enterprise influence. I say "probably" because the senior vote seems to have lost its influence in Washington. Click 11/06/02*

Black Friday for America’s Senior Citizens

Small Increase in Social Security, Giant Jump in Medicare Costs

By Tucker Sutherland, editor

Oct. 18, 2002 – This may be remembered as “Black Friday” for America’s senior citizens. It is a day that clearly signals the financial woes ahead for those heavily dependent on Social Security and Medicare. On this day, the Bush Administration announced the smallest increase in Social Security payments in years and large increases in Medicare costs. Click 10/18/2*

“Help on the way for seniors”

How Many Times Will News Sources Run the Same Story?

It's time for seniors to take action!

By Tucker Sutherland, Editor, SeniorJournal.com

July 10, 2002 - The Associated Press has filed a story today by David Espo that declares, “The pace is quickening in the Senate on senior citizens' issues, from a new entry in the Medicare prescription drug sweepstakes to fresh election-year emphasis on access to lower-cost generic medicine.” How many times has the AP and other leading news sources filed a similar story over the last three years? Click to rest of story


Medicare Helps You Check Out Nursing Homes Online

March 15, 2002 - We get many E-mails from readers requesting information on how to find nursing homes for their elderly relatives. Most states offer some type of online assistance in choosing a safe home but we are glad to see the federal government helping, too.

This new service by Medicare is named Nursing Home Compare. The primary purpose of this tool is to provide detailed information about the performance of every Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing home in the country. To check on any nursing home in the country click here - Nursing Home Compare.

Important Information on Nursing Home Compare and other resources, including the Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home, and Nursing Home Checklist are also available from Medicare/Medicaid to help you with your nursing home choice.


Crisis In Medicaid Poses Serious Threat To Senior Citizens

March 15, 2002 - Social Security and Medicare receive a lot of media coverage related to reforms that can make these programs better and safer. Almost ignored is the most critical crisis facing senior citizens - the economic pressures forcing states to cutback on Medicaid funding, which pays nearly two-thirds of all nursing home and long-term care bills. Click to Story 3/15/2*


Aging Brain Offers Encouragement

Feb. 13, 2002 - There was encouraging news about advances in the battle against Alzheimer's and to help people recover from strokes presented on the PBS television show, "The Aging Brain," which aired Feb. 12. 2002.

This was part five in the PBS series "The Secret Life of the Brain."  It is extremely well done and appears to be right on top of the latest research.

 It opens with some of the work that is being done to restore body functions for stroke victims - even years after the damage. It had long been assumed that recovery was impossible, because dead brain cells were gone forever. Now, we know, the brain has the ability to rebuild cells, even in senior citizen brains.

 It also reported on real progress in Alzheimer's research, including the vaccine, which has proven successful in test rats.

 Much of the information presented in this aging-brain episode - including some video clips - can be found on the PBS Web site. To go directly to the Aging Brain information - Click Here. 2/13/02***


Drug Discount Cards - Don't Get Excitied!

Jan. 23, 2002 - The announcement by Pfizer of their new Share Card program that allows low-income seniors to get all their prescription drugs (as long as Pfizer makes them) for $15 a month (see link to story at "Medicare") has attracted new attention to drug discount cards for senior citizens. A recent government study, however, says they are not saving us much… if anything.

The General Accounting Office found that prices were on average slightly lower for card program users, but not always, according to a report by Reuters Health. And most of the programs have enrollment fees of $12 to $25 a year. One card, which appeared to provide users with the lowest drug prices, charged members a basic fee of $11.95 a month.

``This report further documents there are no savings for seniors,'' said John Rector, general counsel for the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA). ``It's smoke and mirrors,'' Rector told Reuters Health, adding that, ``it's at best a wash.''

A spokeswoman for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) said the GAO results were similar to its own study conducted last year. The NACDS and NCPA sued the federal government to block the Bush drug discount card plan, claiming it would illegally transfer regulatory authority to private organizations. The groups also said that pharmacies would bear the financial burden of the discounts while pharmacy benefit management companies would receive a boon.

``The reality is, these programs shift people to higher-priced brand name drugs to benefit the pharmacy benefit management companies that are operating them, because they get a rebate,'' said Larry Kocot, NACDS senior vice president and general counsel.

The agency surveyed Merck-Medco Managed Care; Advance PCS; Express Scripts; Wellpoint Health; Citizens Energy, a nonprofit company offering discounts through pharmacies in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island; and a mail order pharmacy. GAO sought prices for the 10 most frequently prescribed prescription drugs and the 10 drugs whose price and use made them the highest expenditure drugs bought by participants in a program offered by AARP.

To read the pdf version of the GAO report - Click Here  1/23/2***


Seniors Turn to Killers

Jan. 17, 2002 - Senior citizens are usually thought of as the victims of crimes but this may be changing as increasing numbers are charged with vicious crimes.

This is a serious problem that needs the attention of all of us who have elderly family members or friends. As society focuses on how to keep more elderly people living at home, rather than in nursing homes, we will need to increase our vigilance on monitoring their rational thought and behavior.

Check these two stories and see if they alert any warning signs.

Gonzales TX -  With jurors barely settled into their padded oak courtroom chairs, Charlie Bell pleaded guilty Wednesday to murdering an old nemesis at the Smiley One Stop Café some 15 months ago. A frail and pale old man using a walker, Bell, 80, is asking to be spared any prison time. Click 1/17/2

San Marco TX - Jury deliberations will continue this morning to determine whether Melvin Hale is competent to stand trial on murder charges in the slaying of Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Randall Vetter. Hale, 74, a retired crane operator and rancher, is accused of shooting Vetter during a traffic stop on the Interstate 35 access road, south of Kyle, in August 2000. Click 1/17/2


No Call List Are Important to Seniors

Jan. 10, 2002 - Hurray, Texas, where I live, has just started a "No Call List," which will impose heavy fines on telemarketers who call you, if you have signed up with the state's "No Call List" program. Some states even include E-mail addresses that are off limits.

About half the states now have programs and it is senior citizens that are leading the charge to add more and strengthen the ones in place.

Over 90,000 Texans have signed up since Jan. 1, according to a Jan. 10, 2002, story in the San Antonio Express-News (Click). This link will take you to a video about the Texas program (Click)

The Texas Website is here (Click) and this is the news release on their program (Click)

This is a good summary of state programs by the Direct Marketing Association - Click.

This Website is devoted to pushing "no call lists" for each state. On his site you will find a U.S. map and you can click your state to find your "no call list" or, if none is available, sign a petition to get one. It may not be totally up-to-date, since it still shows Texas has no program. Click

And, this has created a new business - "no call list scrubbing." Companies like Red Clay Media (Click) will take company customer list and check them against the "no call list" in each state, to help them avoid fines by the states.

If your state does not have a program, call or E-mail your state representative right now!  1/10/2***

New Study Says Longer Life Won't Boost Medicare Costs As Much as Predicted, But We Think They're Wrong!

By Tucker Sutherland, editor

Jan. 6, 2002 - On the eve of the 108th Congress opening, where restructuring of Medicare will be a hot issue, a study released today says it will not cost as much to cover the baby boomers as most people have assumed. They may, however, be making an erroneous assumption. Click 1/6/02*

Medicare Users May Get Surprise!

Dec. 12, 2001 - The news media has been reporting that changes to Medicare and Social Security have been pushed aside by the Sept. 11 crisis. But, very important things are happening in both programs and they are not receiving the media attention seniors need.

Julie Rovner of National Public Radio is the exception. She has been particularly focused on the changes in Medicare, which may come as a shock to many.

Medicare beneficiaries in December usually choose how they will get their health care the next year. They can stay in the traditional, government-run program, or opt for a private plan, like an HMO. Until now, making the wrong choice was no big deal. Unlike most of those in the working world, Medicare beneficiaries could switch plans every month, but, that's about to end.

About 6 million Medicare beneficiaries get their care from private health plans, mostly HMOs. Those who get use private health plans, like HMOs, will be the most affected by a new rule known as "lock-in."

Next year, beneficiaries will be allowed to change plans only once between January and the end of June. After that, they won't be able to change again until January 2003.

Click her to Julie's coverage on NPR  12/12/01***

Tito Space Flight Helps Fight Prejudice Towards Seniors

By Tucker Sutherland, Editor, Senior Journal

May 10, 2001 - Regular readers of the Senior Journal know we have given considerable coverage to the space flight of 60-year-young Dennis Tito. His feat is important to senior citizens, because it helps to erase a stigma associated with older people. click for more 5/1/01

Seniors Benefit on Key Issues Due to Jeffords Rebuff of GOP

By Tucker Sutherland, editor

May 25, 2001 - The departure of Sen. Jim Jeffords, - 67-years-young - from the GOP will have important repercussions for his fellow senior citizens, when the Democrats take control of the U.S. Senate in June. His decision is favorable on these senior issues. click to editorial


Is Bush Raiding Social Security, Medicare? Click for Our Opinion 8/22/01


Guest Opinion by U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, Ranking Member, U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging 
 We Must Strengthen Social Security

The "Do-Nothing-Plan" only offers benefit cuts and increasing poverty rates for the elderly
Aug. 14, 2001 - Social Security has been one of our nation's great success stories. It was created 66 years ago this month - on August 14, 1935, President Franklin Roosevelt signed it in law. Click 8/14/01

> Suddenly Senior's Author, Frank Kaiser, Takes After Politicians on Social Security

Here's why one guy thinks the politicians don't really pay attention to Social Security. Click for Column

> Health Care Needs Overhaul 11/30/00*

He knows things can go wrong because he is a hospital insider. He runs Kaiser Permanente, the largest nonprofit health plan in the United States. He is also a physician and serves on the Institute of Medicine committee that is studying how medical errors occur in the nation's hospitals.

> More Heart Defibrillators Needed 10/28/00*

Each day nearly 1,000 Americans suffer from sudden cardiac arrest -- usually away from a hospital. More than 95 percent of them die, in many cases, because life-saving defibrillators arrive on the scene too late, if at all.

> Senior Journal Looks at VP Debates 10/6/00*

Our impressions on debates and links to analysis by others.

> Gore Has Best Position on Important Issues: Gallup Analysis 9/19/00

Given a choice, Americans continue to be slightly more likely to choose issues rather than leadership skills as the most important determinant of their choice for president this year, and Al Gore now is favored by Americans over George W. Bush on almost all issues tested in recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup polling.

> Privatizing Social Security Not Worth the Risk 8/24/00

The GSA study urges policymakers and reformers to be cautious about trading the system's basic insurance protections for a risky, insecure privatized system, adding, "the rewards of privatization are questionable and probably not a good deal for most women."

> We Must Find Answers to Dementia Violence (Senior Journal Opinion) 8/21/00*

Increasing numbers of violent crimes are being committed by seniors with no history of such behavior.

> You Must Exercise (Senior Journal Opinion) 7/26/00*

Exercising your brain and your body will improve your mind - maybe help you escape Alzheimer's - and escape many physical problems associated with aging.

> Disparity in Drug Prices Must End 7/26/00

If the heartburn drug Prilosec sells for 99 cents a pill in Mexico and $1.47 in Canada, why, Americans want to know, must they pay $3.31 for a single capsule? - Toledo (O) Blade

> Washington Post Editorial on "Social Security Maze" 7/03/00

Neither the Clinton-Gore nor the Bush proposal provides a comprehensive answer to the long-range Social Security problem.

> Why We Need A Medicare Drug Plan 6/26/00*

A California Congressional Candidate Speaks Out.

Senior Journal Opinion:  

     Seniors Will Get Drug Coverage - and More!  5/12/00* 

      (Click Here for AARP Statement)   

> Need for Seniors in Workforce (Opinion) 3/30/00

> Seniors "Not Cheap Labor" - Opinion 3/20/00