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  1. Center Launches SaveMedicareNow Initiative Ahead of Mid-Term Elections
  2. Public Charge Proposed Rule – A Strike on the Health Care and Well-Being of Immigrants and American Families
  3. Center for Medicare Advocacy Welcomes New Board Members

Center Launches SaveMedicareNow Initiative Ahead of Mid-Term Elections

How has Medicare, Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act (ACA) helped you or your family?  Your stories about the value of Medicare, Medicaid and the ACA help us protect and strengthen the health care programs we all rely on.

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In the weeks leading up to the mid-term elections, the Center for Medicare Advocacy will work to ensure Medicare gains momentum as a top issue for voters and candidates. During an audio news conference announcing the SaveMedicareNow initiative, led by the Center, key experts discussed policy and structural changes that threaten the Medicare program. Presenters also highlighted the impact these harmful proposals will have on beneficiaries and families, suggested alternatives to enhance Medicare coverage and program solvency, reported on the impact of increasing efforts to privatize Medicare, and analyzed recent polling showing that health care is consistently a top issue for voters this fall.

The SaveMedicareNow initiative seeks to raise awareness about current proposed threats to Medicare. It is important that voters understand where candidates stand on these important health care issues, such as Medicare privatization. Candidates must be committed to a strong Medicare program and to resisting threats to Medicare, including increasing efforts to privatize the program.

The SaveMedicareNow initiative will give voters tools they need to engage with candidates about these important issues. Voters will be able to learn Medicare myths vs. facts, and about current and proposed privatization plans; find candidate forums; download a candidate questionnaire; and share stories about how Medicare has impacted their lives.        

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Public Charge Proposed Rule – A Strike on the Health Care and Well-Being of Immigrants and American Families

The Administration is at it again. Last weekend, the Department of Homeland Security released the text of a proposed rule that would create hardships for certain immigrants seeking permanent residency (green cards) in the U.S. This “public charge” proposed rule would also place additional barriers in the way of immigrants seeking to enter the country. Currently, in keeping with longstanding immigration policy, to be considered a “public charge” one must be likely to become primarily dependent on the government to meet basic needs. As it now stands, receiving government-issued financial assistance benefits such as TANF and SSI, or long-term care benefits through Medicaid, may cause someone to be deemed a public charge and therefore denied a green card or visa.  

This proposed rule – if finalized – will greatly expand the scope of benefits that will be considered in the public charge test. Benefits such as the low-income subsidy (“Extra Help”) for Medicare’s Part D drug benefit, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP), non-emergency Medicaid, and Section 8 and other forms of housing assistance would be counted. These are programs that older adults and their families rely on to stay healthy and independent in their communities for as long as possible.

Discouraging use of these critical benefits under the threat of adverse immigration consequences is not only unconscionable, it could impact our nation’s long-term care infrastructure. According to the Paraprofessional Health Care Institute, over 1 million immigrants are in the direct care work force. That is roughly 1 in 4 of our nation’s direct care workers. These are the professionals who provide critical care for the country’s older people or people with disabilities.

The proposed regulation prioritizes wealth over all other factors. It not only puts individuals who rely on these programs at risk, it would also adversely affect families who have been waiting years to be reunited. The Center for Medicare Advocacy is proud to be one of over 1,100 organizations that signed on to a statement in opposition to the proposed public charge rule.

Once the proposed rule is officially published in the federal register, it will be open to public comment for 60 days. We urge others to submit comments to let the Administration know that this change to our immigration policy is unfair, unwarranted and unjust.

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Center for Medicare Advocacy Welcomes New Board Members

The Center for Medicare Advocacy is pleased to announce the additions of Julia Evans Starr and Charles P. Sabatino to our Board of Directors.

Julia Evans-Starr, MSW, Senior Fellow at the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being at George Mason University, is a leading authority on issues affecting the growing and diverse population of older adults. Her work transcends the branches of government (Executive, Legislative and Judicial) as well as municipalities and a vast network of community providers.

Ms. Evans-Starr led Connecticut’s Legislative Commission on Aging for over twenty years, until it was defunded by the legislature in 2016.  She now serves as an aging, disability and health policy consultant. Through her work she has identified emerging trends, promoted best practices and sought responsible solutions. She has served as a credible source of information for decision-makers in all levels of government and the private sector. Among other achievements, she worked with the Connecticut General Assembly to pass comprehensive reforms to prevent elder abuse and to establish and implement a Connecticut for Livable Communities initiative.

As a consultant, Ms. Evans-Starr has been tapped by several state agencies, nonprofits and municipalities to lead and/or assist many major initiatives. Most recently, she was enlisted to help lead the development of Connecticut’s No Wrong Door initiative entitled My Place CT.

A frequent keynote speaker and panelist, Ms. Evans Starr hosts a regular WTIC-AM radio program, regularly guest-spots on WNPR and television shows and contributes to newspaper, magazine and blog articles on topical issues. She has been an Adjunct Professor at Smith College and UConn School of Social Work for several years. Ms. Evans-Starr earned her Master's Degree at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis.

Charles P. Sabatino, J.D. has been the Director of the ABA Commission on Law and Aging, located in Washington, DC, since 1984. The Commission is a policy and practice research, education, and advocacy body within the ABA, focused on the rights of older adults. Mr. Sabatino’s work focuses on research and project development in the areas of health law, long-term care decision-making, and legal services delivery. He is a nationally recognized expert in recognizing the desires and rights of older and disabled people, especially people with serious illnesses and at the end of life.

In addition to his role at the ABA Commission, Mr. Sabatino is an Adjunct Professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, where he has taught a seminar on law and aging since 1987. He is a Fellow and past president of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (2001-2002) and is past chair of its public policy committee.

Prior to joining the ABA, Mr. Sabatino was the elder law project attorney and managing attorney of the Arlington, Virginia branch of Legal Services of Northern Virginia. He is a member of the District of Columbia and Virginia bar associations. Mr. Sabatino received an A.B. from Cornell University and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington.

The Center is grateful for Ms. Evans-Starr and Mr. Sabatino’s dedication to health care and elder justice, and looks forward to working with them to improve access to Medicare and health care.

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