Lance A. Robertson, Assistant Secretary for Aging and the Administrator, Administration for Community Living (ACL)
After unanimous confirmation in early August by the U.S. Senate, Lance A. Robertson was officially sworn in on August 11, 2017, as the Assistant Secretary for Aging and the Administrator, Administration for Community Living (ACL), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). He succeeds Kathy Greenlee in the new post, who served since 2009. Robertson, with his extensive knowledge of and experience in the aging services and disabilities networks, previously served for nearly a decade as the Director of the Aging Services Division at the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. Most notable to the National Indian Council on Aging, Inc. (NICOA) is his proven ability to work with the tribes in Oklahoma which are often rural and underserved. His insight into the unique challenges facing American Indian communities in Oklahoma makes NICOA confident that he can bring that same commitment to filling the gaps in services that our communities struggle with every day across Indian Country. NICOA submitted a letter of recommendation for Mr. Robertson’s appointment to this important position. NICOA is excited to have him in this key position.
Trump Tax Reform harmful for Elders
After failing to gain the support of 50 Senators, Senate leadership announced on September 26 that it would not bring the Graham-Cassidy, Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal bill for a vote. Congressional leadership is now pivoting to tax reform, and in that effort, health care for older adults is still at risk. Medicaid and Medicare cuts remain a threat as Republicans try to pay for tax changes that benefit the wealthiest Americans. Any tax reform plan that results in reduced government revenues would set the stage for future cuts to Medicaid, Medicare, and all the critical programs on which older Americans rely. This information was obtained from Justice in Aging, October 13, 2017. http://www.justiceinaging.org
Medicare Open Enrollment starts October 15
Elders Mark Your Calendar! OPEN ENROLLMENT IS OCTOBER 15-DECEMBER 7. Open enrollment is the annual period when you can enroll, review, or make changes to your Medicare Plan, including your prescription drug plan. Open enrollment takes place every year from October 15 to December 7. During this time, make sure you review your coverage to ensure your plan still works for you. TO SIGN-UP OR CHANGE YOUR PLAN, CALL 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) OR VISIT WWW.MEDICARE.GOV.
Medicare starts rollout of new cards in April to remove SSN
Everyone who currently has Medicare will be getting a new number and card. This is being done to remove people’s Social Security numbers from the cards to better protect against identity theft. The randomly assigned numbers will be a combination of numerals and upper-case letters. The new cards will roll out from April 2018 through April 2019. It will take a while for so many cards to be distributed nationwide, so don’t be worried if your friend or relative gets their card before you do. Your current Medicare card will remain active until your new one arrives. Everyone’s new Medicare number will be unique, so individuals who used to have their spouses’ or parents’ number on their card, with just a different letter at the end of the number, will now have a completely different number. Nothing else changes, and your Medicare coverage and benefits remain the same.
Job Training program for Elders – Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) – funded in PY 2018 – still not out of danger
Regarding FY19 (July 1, 2018) SCSEP funding. We are pleased to report that both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have both funded SCSEP in their respective budget bills. The House of Representatives proposed funding SCSEP at $300 M along with a proposed transfer to the Administration for Community Living (ACL) from DOL and the Senate has proposed funding SCSEP at $400 M with no transfer to the ACL and with SCSEP staying at DOL. This means that both the House and Senate have disagreed with the Administration’s proposal to eliminate SCSEP. There will be SCSEP next year… the question now is, how much funding will SCSEP get for PY18/FY19? Recently, in the news, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution to keep the government funded and operating from October 1, 2017 – December 8, 2017. Members of the House and Senate will meet in November and December to work out their differences on budget matters such as the different funding levels each has proposed for SCSEP for PY18.
While the above is good news, it is also a new opportunity for you to stress the value and importance of SCSEP to your tribal leaders and members of Congress. The Republican Study Committee has proposed an alternative budget bill that includes the elimination of SCSEP. This bill will be debated on the House floor soon. While this bill is not expected to pass, it does provide the opportunity for Members of the House to say nice things about SCSEP in their areas. SCSEP NEEDS Tribal support in Congress. NICOA is an important set-aside sponsor of the SCSEP grant in 8 states across the country – we serve in the most in need areas of Indian Country – AZ, CA, MN, ND, NM, OK, SD, and WI. American Indian Elders need your support.
NICOA Announces the 22nd – 2018 Biennial National Indian Council on Aging in Indian Country Conference
Calling all Elders, Aging Service Providers, and Tribal elected leaders: Join us at the Pechanga Resort and Casino, Temecula, CA – September 10-13, 2018. We welcome you to join over 1500-2000 Elders from across the country learn about Aging Services and Supports and listen to Elders present their concerns and recommendations to improve the health, social services, and economic wellbeing of AI/AN Elders. This one-of-a-kind event is the only national forum for AI/AN Elders to organize their aging specific policy issues and to ensure that AI/AN Elders have a voice that reaches policy makers in Washington, DC. The Elders join forces with the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) to advocate for American Indian and Alaska Native rights. The Elders’ goal is to educate Congress and the Administration to understand the need for services and supports to help AI/AN Elders to age at home and in their own communities with safety and dignity. For more information visit NICOA.org or call (505) 292-2001.
NICOA requests for donations – Elders need NICOA Advocacy
NICOA is the premier Indian Organization advocating for improved comprehensive health, social services, and economic wellbeing for American Indian and Alaska Native elders. NICOA was founded in 1976 by the Tribal Chairman’s Association, providing over 41 years of nonprofit service and advocacy for Elders. Our Tribal leaders from past and present know the importance of having a unified Indian Elders’ organization. Our Elders from our many great Nations have powerful voices and they must be heard. NICOA serves as the FORUM for our elders’ voices.
NICOA needs your financial support. We have work to do. The advocacy and political work we do for our Elders is not free. Nothing worth fighting for is free. You know that grants are now being cut in Washington DC. NICOA is feeling that pain. We fear that without your financial support we may not be able to continue to operate. NICOA may have to close its doors.
Right now, we must depend on each other. It takes Native people to help Native people. So, we ask you to offer your donation in honor of those you love: your Elders, Elder Veterans, tribal leaders, former or current NICOA board members.
Donate today and help us to advocate for our collective Elder relatives – ensure that you and those of the future generation have dignified aging services and supports….as we walk the journey of growing older in America.
Thank you for your donation!