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Blacks, Hispanics Less Likely Eligible for Medicare Prescription Help



Medicare’s Part D prescription medication management program, also known as Medication Therapy Management, could be off limits to some of the patients who need it most — older African-Americans and Hispanics — a new study finds.

Medicare introduced the program, Medication Therapy Management or MTM, in 2006 as part of the Part D prescription drug program. MTM provides face-to-face counseling, phone consultation or consultations by mail with pharmacists or other health care providers to help people with chronic illness resolve problems with taking medications. The goal is to improve patient health, reduce costs and minimize side effects.

In 2010, to be eligible for the program, a person must be enrolled in the Medicare Part D drug program, have at least three chronic health conditions, take eight or more medications covered by Part D and spend at least $3,000 yearly on the medications.

Researchers led by Junling Wang, Ph.D., at the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy looked at data to see whether African-Americans, Hispanics or whites equally would be apt to meet these eligibility criteria.

“We suspected there might be potential problems related to eligibility criteria for minorities since historically racial and ethnic minorities tend to use fewer medications and they tend to incur lower prescription drug costs,” Wang said. This is despite the fact that minority groups are at higher risk than whites for developing many serious chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.

The study appears online in the journal Health Services Research.

The researchers found that African-Americans would be up to 34 percent less likely to meet MTM eligibility than whites and that Hispanics would be up to 38 percent less prone to meet eligibility requirements. This pattern held even in those patients with severe health problems.

The findings are important, Wang said, because other health agencies and private insurers often adopt Medicare policies. She also said that recent changes in policies to improve health care quality have not been very effective in reducing racial and ethnic disparities.

“In fact, sometimes these policies have really widened the disparity gap. Minorities historically have different patterns of medication utilization from the majority population. If we don’t take those differences into consideration, minorities will lag behind,” she said.

“You have to be on a lot of drugs or some pretty expensive medications to qualify for MTM services,” said Marissa Schlaifer, pharmacy affairs director at the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy. “This study does remind us that those people who are not on medications they need are less likely to qualify for MTM services,” because the determining factors are being on multiple drugs and having high drug costs. “People who aren’t getting the drugs they need are just as much in need of MTM services as people who are getting too many drugs.”


Health Services Research is the official journal of the AcademyHealth and is published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. on behalf of the Health Research and Educational Trust. For information, contact Jennifer Shaw, HSR Business Manager at (312) 422-2646 or jshaw@aha.org. HSR is available online at www.blackwell-synergy.com/loi/hesr.

 

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Comment by Shelia Sheckles on August 5, 2010 at 4:27pm
VA hosted a Forum on Women Veterans July 28, 2010 to spotlight enhancements in VA care and services for women Veterans.

http://www.publichealth.va.gov/womenshealth/
Comment by Shelia Sheckles on August 5, 2010 at 3:31pm
For fiscal Year (FY) July 2009 to Fiscal Year July 2010
The State of Nevada Medicaid Program Awards has received Cumulative Grant Awards Totaling $395,007,172
To see what your States Cumulative Grant Awards were, visit the following link below
http://transparency.cit.nih.gov/RecoveryGrants/grant.cfm?grant=Rein...
Comment by Shelia Sheckles on August 5, 2010 at 2:34pm
United States Department of Veterans Affairs

VA Voluntary Service

Volunteer or Donate!
If you want to give your time and talents to support the care of America's veterans, or if you want to help, but don't have time, we have many ways you can help. Fill out our volunteer form and a local VAVS representative will contact you.

President's United We Serve
VA Voluntary Service (VAVS) has joined President Barack Obama’s United We Serve initiative. VAVS is committed to engaging American citizens in service during the summer months and provide lasting benefits to the veterans and communities in which they live through volunteer service. Follow the link above to see what projects may be available in your area. Or click on Volunteer or Donate to contact a VAVS Program Manager in your area.

For more information, please visit the link below
http://www.volunteer.va.gov/
Comment by Shelia Sheckles on August 5, 2010 at 2:29pm
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Mark Lassiter,
Press Officer
410-965-8904
press.office@ssa.gov


For Immediate Release

SOCIAL SECURITY
News Release
Social Security Board of Trustees: Long-Range Financing Outlook Remains Unchanged
(Printer friendly version)
The Social Security Board of Trustees today released its annual report on the financial health of the Social Security Trust Funds and the long-range outlook remains unchanged. The combined assets of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds will be exhausted in 2037, the same as projected last year. The Trustees also project that program costs will exceed tax revenues in 2010 and 2011, be less than tax revenues in 2012 through 2014, and then permanently exceed tax revenues beginning 2015, one year earlier than estimated in last year’s report. The worsening of the short-range outlook for the Social Security Trust Funds is due in large part to the recent economic downturn.

In the 2010 Annual Report to Congress, the Trustees announced:

•The projected point at which the combined Trust Funds will be exhausted comes in 2037 – the same as the estimate in last year’s report. At that time, there will be sufficient tax revenue coming in to pay about 78 percent of benefits.
•The projected point at which tax revenues will fall below program costs comes in 2010. Tax revenues will again exceed program costs in 2012 through 2014 before permanently falling below program costs in 2015 -- one year sooner than the estimate in last year’s report.
•The projected actuarial deficit over the 75-year long-range period is 1.92 percent of taxable payroll -- 0.08 percentage point smaller than in last year’s report.
•Over the 75-year period, the Trust Funds would require additional revenue equivalent to $5.4 trillion in present value dollars to pay all scheduled benefits.
“The impact of the current economic downturn continues to be felt by the Social Security Trust Funds,” said Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security. “The fact that the costs for the program will likely exceed tax revenue this year is not a cause for panic but it does send a strong message that it’s time for us to make the tough choices that we know we need to make. I applaud President Obama for his creation of the Deficit Commission so we can start the national discussion needed to ensure that Social Security remains a foundation of economic security for our children and grandchildren.”

Other highlights of the Trustees Report include:

•Income including interest to the combined OASDI Trust Funds amounted to $807 billion ($667 billion in net contributions, $22 billion from taxation of benefits and $118 billion in interest) in 2009.
•Total expenditures from the combined OASDI Trust Funds amounted to $686 billion in 2009.
•The assets of the combined OASDI Trust Funds increased by about $122 billion in 2009 to a total of $2.5 trillion.
•During 2009, an estimated 156 million people had earnings covered by Social Security and paid payroll taxes.
•Social Security paid benefits of $675 billion in calendar year 2009. There were about 53 million beneficiaries at the end of the calendar year.
•The cost of $6.2 billion to administer the program in 2009 was a very low 0.9 percent of total expenditures.
•The combined Trust Fund assets earned interest at an effective annual rate of 4.9 percent in 2009.
The Board of Trustees is comprised of six members. Four serve by virtue of their positions with the federal government: Timothy F. Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury and Managing Trustee; Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security; Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services; and Hilda L. Solis, Secretary of Labor. The two public trustee positions are currently vacant. President Obama nominated two individuals to serve as public trustees, and the Senate Finance Committee held hearings on July 29 for both trustee nominees. Their confirmations are pending.

The 2010 Trustees Report will be posted at www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/TR/2010/ by Thursday afternoon.

# # #

SSA Press Office 440 Altmeyer Building 6401 Security Blvd. Baltimore, MD 21235
410-965-8904 FAX 410-966-9973

Here is the original link to the Press Release
http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pressoffice/pr/trustee10-pr.htm
Comment by Shelia Sheckles on August 5, 2010 at 2:23pm
http://www.ssa.gov/legislation/RecentIssues.html

On August 5, 2010, The Social Security Board of Trustees released its annual report on the financial health of the Social Security Trust Funds and the long-range outlook remains unchanged. The combined assets of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds will be exhausted in 2037, the same as projected last year.

On March 8, 2010, Commissioner Astrue was presented with The Alzheimer's Association's 2010 Humanitarian Award. This honor is given each year to a public official who has made a significant contribution to help those who are struggling with Alzheimer's disease. In recognizing Commissioner Astrue, the Alzheimer's Association noted, “his exceptional leadership in creating the Compassionate Allowances Initiative and the decision to include early-onset Alzheimer's disease and other dementias in that initiative.”


On March 23, 2010, Commissioner Astrue joined award-winning actress Patty Duke and the cast of her hit 1960s sitcom, The Patty Duke Show , to unveil Social Security's newest online service – an application for Medicare benefits. This new online application, which takes less than 10 minutes to complete, is for people reaching the Medicare eligibility age of 65 who want to delay filing for Social Security retirement benefits. Currently about a half million Americans enroll in Medicare each year without applying for monthly benefits.
Comment by Shelia Sheckles on August 5, 2010 at 2:23pm
For Immediate Press Release

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Contact: HRSA Press Office
(301) 443-3376


HHS Awards $159.1 Million to Support Health Care Workforce Training
Funds will Support Programs to Train Nurses, Geriatric Specialists and Improve the Performance and Recruitment of Underrepresented Minority Students

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today will announce $159.1 million in grants to health care workforce training programs. These grants build on the multimillion dollar investments made under the Affordable Care Act and Recovery Act to strengthen and grow our primary care workforce. The grants will target three types of programs: Nursing Workforce Development programs; interdisciplinary geriatric education and training programs; and Centers of Excellence programs for underrepresented minority students.

“We cannot build a healthier America if our country continues to face a growing health professions shortage,” said Secretary Sebelius. “A well-trained, educated and diverse workforce is critical to meeting future health care demands, and to reforming the nation’s health care system.”

“These grants target key workforce needs,” said Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator Mary K. Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N. “In addition to training new health care workers, these grants will support efforts to better prepare health care workers to care for our diverse and aging population, improving health care quality for all Americans.”

To read the entire release, visit the following link

http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2010pres/08/20100805a.html
Comment by Shelia Sheckles on August 5, 2010 at 12:25pm
US Department of Health and Human Services
Office of Inspector General

Executive Summary
Great Brook Valley Health Center's Inc.'s (Great Brook) processes for reporting the selected data elements in the second and third quarterly reporting periods generally provided reasonable assurance that it complied with section 1512 requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). Specifically, Great Brook accurately reported funds expended, project status, and the final project report indicator. However, Great Brook overstated the number of jobs created by 10.71 full-time equivalents (FTE) in the second reporting period and in the third reporting period miscalculated its jobs number by 0.81 FTE in and understated funds received by $113,000.

http://oig.hhs.gov/oas/reports/region1/11001503.asp

http://oig.hhs.gov/oas/reports/region3/30900367.asp
Comment by Shelia Sheckles on August 5, 2010 at 12:18pm
Information Obtained From the United States Department of Labor

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has released an updated version of the Child Labor Rules Advisor that incorporates the changes to the regulations, 29 CFR Part 570, that became effective on July 19, 2010. These regulations focus on nonagricultural employment.

The interactive, online Child Labor Rules Advisor is designed to answer questions about workers and businesses that are subject to federal child labor rules. This Advisor provides information at different levels of detail, depending on who is seeking the information, (i.e., youth, parent, employer, teacher). Federal child labor rules are established by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The Child Labor Rules Advisor is one of a series of elaws (Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses) Advisors developed by the Department to help employers and employees understand federal employment laws. To access it, visit the elaws Web site. To learn more about the Department’s role in administering child labor rules, visit the Wage and Hour Division Web site.

Child Labor Rules Advisor
http://www.dol.gov/elaws/esa/flsa/cl/default.htm

elaws Web site
http://www.dol.gov/elaws/

Wage and Hour Division Web site
http://www.dol.gov/whd/
 

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