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2020 Archives: Health and Family

AARP correspondence to lawmakers and regulators


The following documents related to health care concerns of people 50-plus are presented in reverse chronological order.

December

C: On December 24, 2020 AARP sent a letter to The Honorable Seema Verma, Administrator for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to provide comments on the state of New York’s Section 1115 Medicaid Redesign Team Waiver amendment on managed long-term care plan eligibility and voluntary mainstream enrollment for certain dual eligibles. AARP urged CMS to not approve the state’s proposed change on managed long-term care eligibility to ensure individuals retain access to needed benefits. In addition, AARP also urged improvements for individuals and their family caregivers in the proposed change regarding well dual eligibles. (PDF)

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L = letter         

C = comment        

S = statement for the record

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C: On December 30, 2020 AARP sent a letter to The Honorable Seema Verma, Administrator for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to provide comments on the Proposed Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2022. AARP’s comments focus on proposed regulatory changes to State Innovation Waivers granted under Section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). AARP has serious concerns that implementation of these proposed changes would lead to the erosion of the core consumer protections of the ACA. (PDF)

L: On December 14, 2020 AARP, along with 50 other organizations, sent a letter to congressional leadership encouraging them to include a permanent extension of the 7.5 percent threshold for the medical expense deduction as part of any end-of-year legislative package.  The current extension expires on Dec. 31, 2020. With the added impact of an unprecedented public health emergency and unknown long term health impacts, this deduction is more important than ever. (PDF)

C: On December 2, 2020 AARP sent a letter to Secretary Alex Azar of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services providing comments on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding retrospective review of regulations promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services.  AARP expressed concern that the current proposal is overbroad and not the best use of the Department’s limited resources. (PDF)

November

L: On November 17, 2020 AARP sent a letter to Stephen Hahn, MD, Commissioner for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration urging the Commissioner to publish regulations regarding over-the-counter hearing aids, as required by the Over the Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 (P.L. 115-52). The law required the Food and Drug Administration to propose regulations by August of this year. Continued delay in the release of these regulations further delays access to affordable treatment for millions of Americans with mild to moderate hearing loss. (PDF)

L: On November 17, 2020 AARP sent a letter to U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Patrick Toomey (R-PA) in support of the Nursing Home Reform Modernization Act of 2020 (S. 4866).  This bill would expand the number of nursing homes in the Special Focus Facility (SFF) Program to identify and increase transparency around those facilities with a history of serious quality issues and ensure they receive more frequent inspections. The legislation also includes vital consumer protections to help ensure appropriate oversight and accountability for nursing homes and requires consumer participation in an Advisory Council examining processes for ranking nursing homes prior to the establishment of such a ranking system. (PDF)

C: On November 12, 2020 AARP sent a letter to Seema Verma, Administrator for the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) providing comments on a request for information pertaining to Recommended Measure Set for Medicaid-Funded Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS). AARP’s comments focus on the importance of family caregivers, HCBS, principles for HCBS quality measures, and respond to some of the specific questions CMS poses. The comments are from the perspective of older adults who may or do use HCBS (Medicaid or not) and their family caregivers. (PDF)

October

C: On October 27, 2020 AARP submitted a letter to Administrator Seema Verma of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services providing comments on “Medicare and Medicaid Programs, Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA), and Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; Additional Policy and Regulatory Revisions in Response to the COVID– 19 Public Health Emergency.” AARP’s comments focus on several issues and areas to improve the response to COVID-19, including enforcement requirements for nursing home data collection and reporting, limitations on COVID-19 testing without an order, and nursing home testing requirements. (PDF)

L: On October 5, 2020 AARP sent a letter to U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Todd Young (R-IN) endorsing the Informing Grandfamilies Act (S.4747) that will help support grandparents and other kinship caregivers. The Informing Grandfamilies Act would help provide kinship caregivers with information about available benefits and services, which can go a long way toward helping not only the caregivers, but the children as well. (PDF)

L: On October 5, 2020 AARP sent a letter the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) concerning a draft recommendation on Hearing Loss in Older Adults.  AARP noted that the USPSTF was unable to make a recommendation for screening of asymptomatic older adults for hearing loss due to insufficient evidence.  Although present research may not paint a complete picture of benefits and harms associated with early detection screening, AARP continues to believe that easily accessible and affordable hearing screening is a net-positive for older adults. (PDF)

C: On October 5, 2020 AARP sent a letter to Administrator Seema Verma of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services providing comments on the Proposed CY 2021 Revisions to Payment Policies under the Physician Fee Schedule and Other Changes to Part B Payment Policies; Medicare Shared Savings Program Requirements; etc. The comments focus on the changes that CMS made administratively related to telehealth in response to the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE)(PDF)

August

C: On August 11, 2020 AARP submitted written comments to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma concerning a proposed rule for Medicare payment to home health agencies (HHAs) under the home health prospective payment system (PPS) in 2021. AARP’s comments focus on monitoring the impact of the new Patient-Driven Groupings Model (PDGM) that was implemented in 2020; use of technology under the Medicare home health benefit; the home infusion therapy benefit; assessing pain management under the Home Health Quality Reporting Program; and COVID-19 reporting by HHAs. (PDF)

July

L: On July 29, 2020 AARP sent a letter to Chairwoman Susan Collins and Ranking Member Bob Casey of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging providing a statement for the hearing “The COVID-19 Pandemic and Seniors: A Look at Racial Health Disparities.” While the COVID-19 virus can affect people of all races and ethnicities, there is a striking divide in how the pandemic has affected people by race across the country, broadly reflecting historical injustices. (PDF)

C: On July 20, 2020 AARP sent a letter to Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services Administrator Seema Verma providing comments on a proposed rule establishing minimum standards in Medicaid state Drug Utilization Review (DUR) and supporting Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) for drugs covered in Medicaid, revising Medicaid drug rebate and Third-Party Liability (TPL) requirements. (PDF)

L: On July 20, 2020 AARP sent a letter to Representative Jan Schakowski supporting the introduction of the Quality Care for Nursing Home Residents and Workers During COVID-19 Act of 2020 (H.R. 6698).  This legislation includes important policies to help address the crisis in our nation’s nursing homes, including regular testing for nursing home residents and staff; daily reporting and public information on COVID-19 cases and deaths, including demographic and staffing data; and notification for residents, their legal representatives, and employees.  (PDF)

S: On July 17, 2020 AARP provided feedback to the Coronavirus Commission on Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes. The situation in our nation’s long-term care facilities is dire.  Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are ground zero in the fight against the coronavirus, representing a shockingly high share of deaths. More than 56,000 Americans (residents and staff) have died from COVID-19 in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities in just the past few months. (PDF)

L: On July 16, 2020 AARP sent a letter to all U.S. Senators urging them to include nursing homes and long-term care facilities in the next COVID-19 response package.  More than 56,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities in just the past few months. This includes both residents and employees who lost their lives caring for our loved ones. AARP has heard devastating, horrific accounts from every corner of the country. (PDF)

L: On July 15, 2020 AARP sent a letter to Chairman Frank Pallone and Ranking Member Greg Walden of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce expressing support for three bills  that will be marked up by the Committee on Wednesday, July 15, 2020.  The bills are:  H.R. 2477, the Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) Act; H.R. 3935, the Protecting Patients Transportation to Care Act; and H.R. 4712, the Fairness in Orphan Drug Exclusivity Act. (PDF)

L: On July 9, 2020 AARP sent a letter to U.S. Federal Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, MD noting how the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted longstanding concerns about the U.S. drug supply that also warrant immediate attention.  Recent media reports have focused on shortages of sedatives, anesthetics, painkillers, and muscle relaxants needed for patients who need intubation and mechanical ventilation. (PDF)

C: On July 7, 2020 AARP sent a letter to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma commenting on an important interim final rule on policy and regulatory provisions in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.  AARP’s comments focus on several issues and areas to improve the response to COVID-19 including scope of practice, home health, testing, telehealth, nursing home data collection and reporting, and racial and ethnic disparities. (PDF)

June

L: AARP sent an endorsement letter to the sponsors of  H.R. 7288, the Taxpayer Research and Coronavirus Knowledge (TRACK) Act of 2020. This bill creates a federal database to track all taxpayer investments in the development of  COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. The TRACK Act will better enable consumers and policymakers to understand the level of taxpayer investment by creating a single database to track how federal funds have been spent and which drug manufacturers have received significant federal support. This information is critical to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable and hopefully to serve as a disincentive for price-gouging. (PDF)

L: On June 26, 2020 AARP submitted a letter to Members of the House of Representatives sharing our views on H.R. 1425 the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Enhancement Act. The letter expresses AARP’s position on several of the provisions in H.R. 1425, including the repeal of the rule that expands short-term limited duration (STLD) plans, the creation of the “Improve Health Insurance Affordability Fund”, the encouragement of Medicaid expansion, and the inclusion of several provisions to lower drug prices. (PDF)

C: On June 26, 2020 AARP submitted a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services providing comments on the SoonerCare 2.0 Healthy Adult Opportunity (HAO) Section 1115 Demonstration Waiver Application.  In the letter, AARP expressed its concern that efforts to expand Medicaid have recently been delayed and hopes to work with the state to find a path forward to increase access to healthcare for Oklahomans. (PDF)

S: On June 25, 2020 AARP Arizona State Director Dana Marie Kennedy provided a statement for the record before the U.S. House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health for a hearing entitled “Examining the COVID-19 Nursing Home Crisis.”  In the statement, Ms. Kennedy opens by telling the subcommittee “The situation in our nation’s long-term care facilities is dire. We are calling on Congress and the Administration to take immediate action to stem the continued loss of life and improve conditions in these facilities.” (PDF)

L: On June 24, 2020 AARP sent a letter to Secretary Sonny Perdue of the U.S. Department of Agriculture strongly urging him to protect food security for older adults and suspend the Department’s rulemaking process for the proposed rules entitled, Revision of Categorical Eligibility in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Standardization of State Heating and Cooling Standard Utility Allowances.  The pandemic and economic crisis has put low-income older adults in a more precarious situation. Now is not the time to move forward with rules that would eliminate SNAP eligibility and cut SNAP benefits for millions of people. (PDF)

L: On June 18, 2020 AARP sent a letter to Chairwoman Anna Eshoo and Ranking Member Michael Burgess of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce to provide a written statement for the hearing, “Health Care Inequality: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in COVID-19 and the Health Care System”.  AARP knows this virus can affect people of all races and ethnicities, and also that there is a striking racial divide in how COVID-19 has affected people across the country. (PDF)

C: On June 9, 2020 AARP submitted comments to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on a proposed rule regarding the Medicare Program; Prospective Payment System and Consolidated Billing for Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs); and Updates to the Value-Based Purchasing Program for FY2021.  The situation in our nation’s nursing homes is dire with more than 46,000 deaths among residents and staff in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities already reported by The Wall Street Journal. AARP’s comments focus on the implementation of the Patient Driven Payment Model (PDPM), which will be entering its second year in fiscal year 2021, and related issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. (PDF)

May

L: On May 27, 2020 AARP submitted a written statement for the hearing, “The Disproportionate Impact of COVID-19 on Communities of Color” to U.S. House Committee on Ways & Means Chairman Richard Neal and Ranking Member Kevin Brady.  AARP knows this virus can affect people of all races and ethnicities, but also that there is a striking racial divide in how COVID-19 has affected people across the country, including those living in nursing homes. (PDF)

L: On May 14, 2020 AARP along with 19 other organizations sent a letter to congressional leadership urging them all to provide the immediate assistance needed to prevent the default of the Postal Service (USPS), which is projected by the Board of Governors to occur by as early as this fall.  The 20 organizations also urged Congress to provide the urgently needed financial support to prevent the default from happening. More than ever before, people are relying on the USPS to deliver their lifesaving prescription medications and other necessities, allowing them to remain safely at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. (PDF)

L: On May 11, 2020 AARP sent a letter to Chairman Lindsey Graham and Ranking Member Diane Feinstein of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary urging both to reject proposals to grant immunity related to COVID-19 for nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other long-term care facilities as the Committee holds a hearing entitled Examining Liability During the COVID-19 Pandemic. (PDF)

April

L: On April 28, 2020 AARP sent letters to the entire U.S. Congress and the Administration concerning the appalling numbers of deaths in nursing homes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With at least 11,000 deaths in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities already reported, the gravity of this situation cannot be overstated.  AARP is calling on Congress and the Administration to take immediate action to stem the loss of life and improve conditions in America’s long-term care facilities, including VA medical and community care and HUD supportive housing. (Congress: PDF) (Administration: PDF)

L: On April 24, 2020 AARP sent a letter to Roger Severino, Director at the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services supporting the OCR efforts to strongly oppose discrimination as our nation continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.  AARP has learned the painful lesson over the last several months that the virus can strike anyone. Therefore, it is imperative that those entrusted with deciding who gets access to healthcare do not discriminate. Using age or disability status to categorically exclude people from accessing treatment violates existing federal law, and AARP strongly opposes such discrimination. (PDF)

L: On April 24, 2020 AARP sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue expressing concern for the growing and urgent food needs across the country as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Given the gravity of the present challenge, AARP is calling on USDA to take additional needed steps to ensure all Americans have access to food in these times of need. (PDF)

L: On April 10, 2020 AARP sent a letter to U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Bob Casey (D-PA) and U.S. Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Peter King (R-NY) endorsing the Advancing Connectivity during the Coronavirus to Ensure Support for Seniors Act (ACCESS Act).  The Act will improve access to virtual visitation for nursing home residents and their families during the coronavirus public health emergency. (Senate – PDF) (House – PDF)

L: On April 8, 2020 AARP sent a letter to the entire Congress on behalf of all older Americans and their families who are being hit hard by both the health and financial impacts of the COVID-19  pandemic.  In the letter, AARP urged Congress to act on needed policies to support residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities, individuals who need assistance to live in their homes and communities, and family caregivers.  AARP also urged Congress to expand access to food assistance, paid leave, and unemployment insurance benefits, as well as access to affordable health coverage, and to be mindful that the coronavirus can be spread by anyone, and the health impacts – while potentially more severe for older Americans – can occur across ages. (PDF)

C: On April 6, 2020 AARP sent a letter to Seema Verma, Administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services providing comments on the Proposed Rule for the calendar year 2021 and 2022 Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage, Medicare Cost Plan, Medicare Fee-For-Service, Medicare Prescription Drug Benefits, and PACE programs.  (PDF)

March

L: On March 25, 2020 AARP sent a letter to all of Congress supporting the quick enactment of the bipartisan CARES Act, and called on Congress to continue their bipartisan work to address the further health needs not addressed in this package.  AARP knows that older Americans have been hit particularly hard by both the health and economic impacts of the pandemic and will need immediate relief as well as ongoing support in the coming days, weeks, and months. (PDF)

L: On March 20, 2020 AARP submitted a letter to Senator Robert Casey supporting several of the policies included in the Coronavirus Relief for Seniors and People with Disabilities Act of 2020. The bill includes funding for nursing home surveys to promote infection control; funding for a number of Older Americans Act (OAA) programs including home delivered meals, the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP), supportive services, and elder rights protection; and funding for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). (PDF)

L: On March 17, 2020 AARP submitted a letter to all Senators and Representatives outlining its legislative recommendations to Congress on how to best protect older Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. AARP recommends several changes to protect residents in nursing homes, providing needed relief from health expenses, economic shocks, supporting family caregivers, expanding telehealth, eliminating barriers to care, ensuring seniors don’t go hungry, and expanding access to affordable prescription drugs. (PDF)

L: On March 17, 2020 AARP submitted a letter to David Wright Director of the Quality, Safety & Oversight Group at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services urging him to ensure that the new guidance for nursing homes prioritizes virtual visits and caregiver communications, while also expressing concern that it does not truly enable the critical need for nursing home residents and their families to virtually visit and communicate during this public health emergency. (PDF)

C: On March 6, 2020 AARP sent a comment letter to U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn concerning a proposed rule entitled “Importation of Prescription Drugs.”  AARP has been at the forefront of enacting importation legislation at the state level and is pleased to have the opportunity to work with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to implement these important state laws. (PDF)

L: On March 2, 2020 AARP sent a letter to Chairman Richard Shelby and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy of the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations and Chairwoman Nita Lowey and Ranking Member Kay Granger of the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations urging them to immediately enact legislation providing ample resources needed to combat deadly coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In addition, AARP is urging them to ensure that any vaccine or treatment for this virus be affordable and accessible to all. (PDF)

February

L: On February 24, 2020 AARP along with multiple national and state organizations sent a letter to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) offering collective support for the bipartisan Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act (S.995).  The legislation would reauthorize the Lifespan Respite Care Program at $50 million over five years. The Lifespan Respite Care Program, though competitive grants to states to establish or enhance statewide Lifespan Respite systems, work to maximize existing resources and help ensure that quality respite is available and accessible to all family caregivers. (PDF)

L: On February 11, 2020 AARP sent a letter to Chairman Richard Neal and Ranking Member Kevin Brady of the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means concerning the committee hearing markup of H.R. 5826, the Consumer Protections Against Surprise Medical Bills Act of 2020.  AARP is supportive of enacting safeguards to protect consumers against surprise bills from non-network providers who provide services without the consumer’s knowledge or consent in an otherwise in-network setting, and believes this bill takes steps in the right direction to address the problem of surprise billing. (PDF)

L: On February 11, 2020 AARP sent a letter to U.S. Representatives Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) and Tom Reed (R-NY) endorsing H.R. 5821, the Helping Our Senior Population in Comfort Environments (HOSPICE) Act.  This bipartisan legislation will help improve the oversight and enforcement of quality care for Medicare beneficiaries and their families receiving hospice. (PDF)

L: On February 11, 2020 AARP sent a letter to Chairman Bobby Scott and Ranking Member Virginia Foxx of the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor concerning the committee hearing to markup H.R. 5800, the Ban Surprise Billing Act.  AARP is supportive of enacting safeguards to protect consumers against surprise bills from non-network providers who provide services without the consumer’s knowledge or consent in an otherwise in-network setting, and believes this bill takes steps in the right direction to address the problem of surprise billing. (PDF)

L: On February 4, 2020 AARP sent a letter to Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Patty Murray of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and to Chairman Bobby Scott and Ranking Member Virginia Foxx of the House Committee on Education and Labor expressing support for the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020.  This bipartisan amendment in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 4334 would reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA), maintaining critical service and information roles of OAA programs, and promoting greater responsiveness to the needs of older Americans. (PDF)

January

C: On January 29, 2020 AARP sent a letter to the Administration for Community Living in response to a request for public feedback.  AARP took this opportunity to offer information on resources and programs to help grandparents, other relatives, kinship caregivers and the children they care for, all in an effort to assist the Advisory Council to Support Grandparents Raising Grandchildren in the development of an initial report to Congress. (PDF)

C: On January 29, 2020 AARP submitted a letter to the Administration for Community Living (ACL) in response to a request for public feedback.  The current ACL request for public input is an important opportunity for family caregivers, organizations, and others to provide feedback to assist the Family Caregiving Advisory Council in developing its initial report and to inform the development of the national family caregiving strategy and plan future activities. Over 40 million family caregivers are assisting their loved ones and need commonsense solutions to make their lives a little bit easier. (PDF)

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