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2021 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.

November

L: On November 15, 2021 AARP sent a letter to U.S. Senate Committee on Finance Chair Ron Wyden and Ranking Member Mike Crapo in response to a request for information on Behavioral Health Care. As noted by the Committee, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated unmet behavioral health needs and highlighted the ongoing struggle that individuals face in accessing timely, quality mental health care and substance use disorder services. AARP was pleased to provide its perspective on improving access to behavioral health services. (PDF)

L: On November 15, 2021 AARP and Patients for Affordable Drugs Now sent a joint letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives urging them to vote yes to lower prescription drug prices this week. The agreement reached on drug prices will finally start to reverse policies that have left patients and consumers at the mercy of drug corporations and forced Americans to pay three times what other wealthy nations pay for the same medicines. (PDF)

October

L: On October 26, 2021 AARP sent a letter to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer urging them to provide some immediate financial relief to our nation’s over 48 million family caregivers by including the caregiver tax credit that was reported out by the House Ways and Means Committee in the budget reconciliation package. The tax credit is consistent with the Credit for Caring Act, whose list of co-sponsors spans the Democratic Caucus and continues to grow, and which has the support of over 140 stakeholders. (PDF)

L: On October 25, 2021 AARP sent letters to U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Mike Braun (R-IN) and U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Jackie Walorski (R-IN) endorsing the White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, Hunger, and Health Act – a bill to help in the effort to end hunger in America. Over 9 million older adults across the country struggle to put food on the table. AARP applauds this effort to hold a substantive, policy-based, and action-oriented White House hunger conference to end hunger and improve nutrition. (Senate: PDF) (House: PDF)

L: On October 21, 2021 AARP and Patients for Affordable Drugs Now sent a letter to Congressional leadership urging them to “get the job done” when it comes to lowering prescription drug prices for the American people. In the letter, the organizations said, “We can finally undo a policy that has left patients and consumers at the mercy of drug corporations that dictate prices of brand-name drugs, forcing Americans to pay three times what other wealthy nations pay for the same medicines.” (PDF)

L: On October 1, 2021 AARP sent a letter to Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer supporting the inclusion of dental, hearing, and vision coverage in Medicare Part B, while strongly urging them to reject any proposal that means-test eligibility for Medicare benefits or limits access to benefits to a subset of the population based on their income as this approach that would fundamentally alter and harm Medicare. (PDF)

September

L – On September 29, 2021 AARP along with 56 other organizations sent a group letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy expressing their collective support for the Credit for Caring Act (H.R. 3321). The groups also applauded the inclusion of a family caregiver tax credit consistent with this bill in the legislation approved by the House Ways & Means Committee on September 15. The group urged the House leadership to include this family caregiver tax credit in the final version of the budget reconciliation package, noting that the committee took this important action to support family caregivers and asked them to do the same. The same group of organizations also sent letters to Chairman Richard Neal of the House Committee on Ways and Means thanking him for his leadership and urging the inclusion of the family caregiver tax credit in the final version of the budget reconciliation package, and another to Representative Linda Sánchez thanking her for her successful efforts that led to the inclusion of a family caregiver tax credit consistent with this bill in the legislation approved by the House Ways & Means Committee. (PDF – Leadership) (PDF – Neal) (PDF – Sánchez) 

C: On September 15, 2021 AARP submitted a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services with comments on CMS changes to the Medicare Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System. AARP’s comments focused on beneficiary coinsurance during colorectal cancer screening, mental health services furnished remotely by hospital staff to beneficiaries in their homes, direct supervision by interactive communications technology, and price estimator tools. (PDF)

C: On September 13, 2021 AARP submitted a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services providing comments on the CMS proposed rule to make revisions to Medicare Part B payment policies. AARP’s comments focus on ensuring older Americans and persons with Medicare continue to have access to needed health care services. (PDF)

L: On September 10, 2021 AARP sent a letter to Chair Frank Pallone and Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce in support of several provisions before the committee as it begins to mark up the Build Back Better Act. Specifically, AARP has expressed support in the areas of Prescription Drug Affordability, Home and Community-Based Services, Affordable Health Coverage, Medicare Benefit Improvements, and High-Speed Internet (Broadband). (PDF)

L: On September 8, 2021 AARP sent a letter to Chairman Richard Neal and Ranking Member Kevin Brady of the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means in support of the many provisions before the committee as it begins to mark up the Build Back Better Act. Specifically, AARP has expressed support in the areas of Prescription Drug Affordability, Medicare Benefit Improvements, Family Caregiving, Paid Leave, Nursing Homes, Affordable Health Coverage and Retirement. (PDF)

C: On September 1, 2021 AARP submitted comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services concerning an interim final rule in which the Department of Health and Human Services implements provisions of the No Surprises Act. AARP has long advocated for 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 believe these regulations effectively implement the Act’s intent to address the problem of surprise billing. (PDF)

August

C: On August 30, 2021 AARP submitted comments to the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services concerning the Texas Healthcare Transformation and Quality Improvement Program 1115 Waiver Renewal. AARP’s primary interest in the 1115 waiver is the STAR+PLUS managed long-term care program. AARP members and older adults generally desire to remain in their homes as they age and for those who need assistance meeting their needs, the STAR+PLUS Medicaid program can provide much-needed support for older Texans. (PDF)

C: On August 27, 2021 AARP provided comments to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for a Medicare home health proposed payment rule. The comments focus on monitoring the effects of the implementation of the Patient Driven Groupings Model (PDGM), the home health conditions of participation related to home health aide supervision and comment solicitation on adequacy of aide staffing, aspects of home health quality reporting, and the requests for information regarding the support of digital quality measurements and closing the health equity gap in quality reporting programs. (PDF)

L: On August 18, 2021 AARP sent a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra with regard to booster shots for the COVID-19 virus. AARP specifically noted that it is absolutely critical that older Americans know where and how they can get a booster shot, and that we cannot have a repeat of the initial rollout of the vaccines, when there was significant confusion and anxiety among older Americans as they struggled to make appointments. AARP urged the Secretary to develop a centralized, user-friendly website to help people find out when they are eligible for a booster shot, where booster shots are available in their communities, and how to book their appointments. (PDF)

July

L: On July 30, 2021 AARP sent a letter to U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chair Patty Murray and U.S. House Committee on Energy & Commerce Chair Frank Pallone responding to a request for information on “design considerations for legislation to develop a public health insurance option.” In the letter, AARP asks the Chairs to consider four specific goals as they work to enact legislation to establish a public option, as well as any laws meant to achieve universal access to quality and affordable coverage. (PDF)

S: On July 23, 2021 AARP submitted a written statement for the record to U.S. House Subcommittee on Health Chair Julia Brownley and Ranking Member Jack Bergman for the hearing titled, “Aging in Place: Examining Veterans’ Access to Home and Community Based Services.” AARP’s statement addresses the importance of supporting family caregivers, expanding access to services that help people live in their homes and communities, and supporting the paid workforce. (PDF)

L: On July 14, 2021 over 80 organizations including AARP sent a letter to the entire U.S. House of Representatives urging them to co-sponsor the bipartisan Credit for Caring Act (H.R. 3321). The Credit for Caring Act would create a new, non-refundable federal tax credit of up to $5,000 for eligible working family caregivers to help address the financial challenges of caregiving. Eligible working family caregivers caring for loved ones of all ages could receive the credit if the care recipient meets certain functional or cognitive limitations or other requirements. This tax credit would help family caregivers who care for non-dependents or who do not live with the person they are assisting. (PDF)

C: On July 12, 2021 AARP sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) providing comments on an interim final rule with comment period in which the CMS revises the long-term care (LTC) facility requirements for nursing homes participating in Medicare and/or Medicaid to address issues surrounding COVID-19 vaccination of residents and staff. AARP commends CMS for giving much needed attention through this rule to facility residents, an extremely vulnerable population that experienced a disproportionately high share of the infections, complications, and deaths nationwide caused by COVID-19. (PDF)

June

L: On June 30, 2021 AARP send a letter to Deputy Under Secretary Stacy Dean of the U.S. Food and Nutrition Service to provide feedback on the revision of the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP). AARP expressed appreciation for the USDA’s efforts to update the TFP to more accurately reflect today’s economy and urged that any revision ensures SNAP benefits better meet the nutritional needs of low-income older adults. (PDF)

L: On June 29, 2021 AARP along with 60 other organization sent a letter to the entire U.S. House of Representatives urging them all to co-sponsor the bipartisan Credit for Caring Act (H.R. 3321). The Credit for Caring Act would create a new, non-refundable federal tax credit of up to $5,000 for eligible working family caregivers to help address the financial challenges of caregiving. Eligible working family caregivers caring for loved ones of all ages could receive the credit if the care recipient meets certain functional or cognitive limitations or other requirements. (PDF)

S: On June 23, 2021 AARP submitted a statement to U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging Chair Bob Casey and Ranking Member Tim Scott for the hearing on “21st Century Caregiving: Supporting Workers, Family Caregivers, Seniors and People with Disabilities.” AARP believes that this is the beginning of a long-overdue conversation on improving long-term care needs that the pandemic exposed as terribly inadequate. (PDF)

L: On June 22, 2021 AARP along with 36 other organizations sent a letter to U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and U.S. Representative Linda Sánchez (D-CA) on behalf of veteran and military caregivers expressing support for the bipartisan Credit for Caring Act (S. 1670/H.R. 3321). Veteran and military caregiving respondents report higher levels of need for immediate financial assistance when compared to their non-caregiving peers, according to research by Blue Star Families. The Credit for Caring Act would create a new, non-refundable federal tax credit of up to $5,000 that would help eligible working veteran, military, and other caregivers address the financial challenges of caregiving. (PDF)

L: On June 8, 2021 AARP sent a letter to U.S. House Committee on Rules Chair Jim McGovern and Ranking Member Tom Cole to share written comments in advance of a Committee roundtable entitled “Ending Hunger in America: Examining Hunger Among Seniors and Multigenerational Families.” In the letter AARP offers insights on senior hunger, including factors specific to older adults that impact their ability to achieve food security and access a healthy diet. (PDF)

May

C: On May 27, 2021 AARP sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services providing comments on a Medicare hospice proposed payment rule. AARP’s comments focus on hospice utilization, proposed changes to the hospice conditions of participation regarding hospice aide competency evaluation standards, aspects of the hospice quality reporting, and the requests for information regarding the support of digital quality measurement and closing the health equity gap in quality reporting programs. (PDF)

C: On May 27, 2021 AARP sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services providing comments on a Medicare skilled nursing facility (SNF) payment proposed rule. AARP’s comments focus on the SNF Quality Reporting Program (QRP), the SNF Value-Based Purchasing Program, and the impact of the SNF payment system on resident care. (PDF)

L: On May 25, 2021 AAR along with 67 other organizations sent a letter to U.S. Senators Joni Ernst, Michael Bennet, Shelley Moore Capito, Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Representative Linda Sánchez expressing support for the bipartisan Credit for Caring Act (S. 1670/H.R. 3321). The Credit for Caring Act would create a new, non-refundable federal tax credit of up to $5,000 for eligible working family caregivers to help address the financial challenges of caregiving. (PDF)

L: On May 20, 2021 AARP sent a letter to U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) endorsing S. 1428, the Preserve Access to Affordable Generics and Biosimilars Act. This legislation would end the use of pay-for-delay deals that harm consumers by delaying generic drug competition. (PDF)

L: On May 18, 2021 AARP sent a letter to U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and another letter to U.S. Representative Linda Sánchez (D-CA) endorsing the Credit for Caring Act in both chambers of Congress. Through a new, non-refundable federal tax credit of up to $5,000 for eligible working family caregivers, the Credit for Caring Act would provide much needed financial relief. It would help offset a portion of caregiving out-of-pocket costs, such as home care, home modifications, respite care, transportation, assistive technology, and more. (Senate – PDF) (House – PDF)

L: On May 7, 2021 AARP sent a letter to House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chair Frank Pallone, House Committee on Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal, and House Committee on Education and Labor Chair Bobby Scott expressing support for H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act. This important legislation is a critical step toward lowering prescription drug prices and improving Medicare for seniors and families across the country. (PDF)

C: On May 7, 2021 AARP submitted written comments to Acting Administrator Liz Richter of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services concerning New York’s application for 1115 Waiver authority to implement a 30-month transfer of assets look-back for certain individuals newly seeking coverage for community based long-term care services. AARP has a long history of advocating for access to high-quality care and consumer protections, and AARP opposes the application of the asset transfer policies to individuals living in the community (non-institutionalized individuals). (PDF)

April

L: On April 29, 2021 AARP submitted written comments to Acting Administrator Liz Richter at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Washington State’s Medicaid Transformation Project Section 1115 Demonstration Waiver amendment request. In the letter AARP noted the importance of ongoing services under this waiver – including services to unpaid family caregivers and individuals at risk of using future Medicaid long-term services and supports (LTSS), supportive housing, and supported employment services – however, AARP’s comments specifically focuses on the LTSS presumptive eligibility (PE) and LTSS transportation services changes proposed in this waiver amendment. This will help more Washingtonians access the services and supports they need. (PDF)

L: On April 29, 2021 AARP sent a letter to U.S. Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA), Bill Johnson (D-OH), Doris Matsui (D-CA), David Schweikert (R-AZ), and Peter Welch (D-VT) thanking them for introducing the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act of 2021. AARP shares the representatives’ commitment to expanding access to quality health care through telehealth services, and believe this bill addresses many barriers to telehealth care in Medicare. (PDF)

L: On April 27, 2021 AARP sent a letter to U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ben Cardin (D-MD), John Thune (R-SD), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) thanking them for introducing the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act of 2021. AARP shares the senators’ commitment to expanding access to quality health care through telehealth services, and believe this bill addresses many barriers to care in Medicare. (PDF)

L: On April 23, 2021 AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins sent a letter to President Biden urging the President’s continued support for reforms that will lower drug prices and costs for all Americans, and especially for older Americans. In the letter, Jo Ann Jenkins emphasized, “The time to act is now. We cannot miss this opportunity to deliver relief for older Americans. I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss how we can work together to lower drug prices for the millions of Americans who need it.” (PDF)

C: On April 7, 2021 AARP submitted written comments to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra regarding proposed Modifications to the HIPAA Privacy Rule to Support, and Remove Barriers to, Coordinated Care and Individual Engagement. AARP agrees that revisions are necessary to keep pace with technological innovation and ensure our health system is able to deliver person- and family-centered care. In the communication, AARP provided comments on specific proposed changes impacting the individual and family-caregiver experience. (PDF)

March

S: On March 23, 2021 AARP submitted testimony to the Subcommittee on Health of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce for a hearing entitled “Building on the ACA: Legislation to Expand Health Coverage and Lower Costs.” There will be a number of bills discussed at the hearing that will build on recent accomplishments and improve access to quality, affordable health insurance coverage. While the recent improvements to the ACA will benefit millions of Americans, AARP supports three specific legislative actions to further improve the overall affordability and quality of health insurance coverage, and outlined each in the statement. (PDF)

L: On March 18, 2021 AARP sent a letter to congressional leadership urging prompt, bipartisan action to prevent expected cuts to Medicare. A 2% cut is scheduled for April 1 and a 4% cut is expected to be triggered on October 1 without congressional intervention. While these cuts do not directly impact Medicare benefits, they do reduce payment to clinicians and hospital, which could cause people with Medicare difficulty in accessing care or finding a provider. (PDF)

S: On March 18, 2021 AARP Massachusetts Volunteer State President Sandra Harris submitted testimony before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging for a hearing entitled “COVID-19 One Year Later:  Addressing Health Care Needs for At-risk Americans.” COVID-19 has been particularly hard on Americans over the age of 50 and people of color. Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 95 percent of the deaths from COVID-19 have been among people age 50 and older. The situation in America’s nursing homes is particularly dire. (PDF)

S: On March 17, 2021 testimony was provided by AARP Louisiana State Director Denise Bottcher on behalf of AARP before the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance for a hearing entitled “A National Tragedy:  COVID-19 in the Nation’s Nursing Homes.” The situation in our nation’s nursing homes and other long-term care facilities has been alarming since the beginning of the pandemic. Since then, AARP has consistently advocated for the health, safety and well-being of residents and staff. (PDF)

L: On March 17, 2021 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. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown a spotlight on some of the real challenges facing our nation’s nursing homes and the ongoing importance of safeguarding the quality of care, quality of life, health, safety, and well-being of nursing home residents and staff. Importantly, this bill would identify and increase transparency around facilities with a history of serious quality issues and ensure they receive more frequent inspections. (PDF)

February

L: On February 25, 2021 AARP sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell outlining AARP’s priorities with regard to the COVID relief package currently making its way through Congress. In the letter, AARP notes the following priority issues for Congressional leadership:  Vaccine Distribution; Direct Payment Relief from Economic Shocks; Nursing Homes, Other Long-Term Care Facilities, and Home and Community-Based Services; Further Investments in Federal Nutrition Programs; Health Care Access and Affordability; Emergency Paid Family and Sick Leave; Age Discrimination; Financial Support for Unemployed Older Workers; Housing and Transportation; and Pension Relief. (PDF)

L: On February 23, 2021 AARP sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services concerning the important issue of in-person visitation for nursing home and other long-term care facility residents. AARP urged the Acting Administrator for CMS to update guidance, criteria, and support for safe in-person visitation and collect and make public daily data about COVID-19 in these facilities, including vaccinations of residents and staff. (PDF)

L: AARP has provided a letter dated February 3, 2021 to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee and Subcommittee on Health in preparation for a hearing being held to examine the COVID-19 vaccine supply chain and distribution process. In the letter to Committee Chair Frank Pallone and Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and Subcommittee Chair Anna Eshoo and Ranking Member Brett Guthrie AARP noted that it is critical that these vaccines are administered as efficiently and quickly as possible, and to take immediate action to address access problems and mitigate whatever barriers may be causing these delays. Full-scale mobilization is necessary, and any slowdowns or early bottlenecks in the production and distribution systems need to be urgently addressed. (PDF)

January

L: On January 27, 2021 AARP sent a letter to U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Joni Earnest (R-IA) endorsing the Advancing Connectivity during the Coronavirus to Ensure Support for Seniors Act (ACCESS Act). The ACCESS Act would provide $50 million to the Telehealth Resource Center Program to help facilitate the development of telehealth technologies for nursing homes, improving access to virtual visitation for nursing home residents and their families during the coronavirus public health emergency. (PDF)

C: On January 26, 2021 AARP sent a letter to Acting Administrator Liz Richter for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services providing comments on the interim final rule on a Most Favored Nation (MFN) Model for Medicare Part B drugs. In the letter, AARP outlined specific support for the MFN model.  AARP also expressed appreciation for the agency’s focus on the discrepancy between high U.S. drug prices and the lower prices paid in other developed countries, as well as its ongoing efforts to help lower Medicare Part B drug prices and out-of-pocket costs for the millions of older Americans struggling to afford the medications they need. (PDF)

L: On January 25, 2021 AARP sent a letter to U.S. Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) endorsing the Advancing Connectivity during the Coronavirus to Ensure Support for Seniors Act (ACCESS Act). The ACCESS Act would provide $50 million to the Telehealth Resource Center Program to help facilitate the development of telehealth technologies for nursing homes, improving access to virtual visitation for nursing home residents and their families during the coronavirus public health emergency. (PDF)

L: On January 22, 2021 AARP sent a letter to U.S. Representatives Katie Porter (D-CA) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) in support of the Medicare Economic Security Solutions Act. This legislation would significantly reduce the costly Part B late-enrollment penalty many Medicare beneficiaries face. It will also count COBRA, Veterans Administration, and retiree coverage as creditable coverage for special enrollment periods to help reduce confusion and ease the transition into Medicare. (PDF)

L: On January 11, 2021 AARP sent a letter to Secretary Alex Azar of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services urging the Secretary to take immediate action to address the issues that have slowed down vaccinations across the country. AARP’s 38 million members urgently want to see an end to the coronavirus pandemic. So many people, especially older Americans, have upended their lives over the past nine months. Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 95 percent of the deaths from COVID-19 have been among people 50 and older. That is why it is so important that older people be prioritized to receive these vaccines. (PDF)