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RI ARA

Affiliated with the Rhode Island AFL-CIO “Fighting for the future of our members.” “NOW, more than ever!!!” Publication 2018 Issue 15 Published in house by the RI ARA

April 15, 2018 E-Newsletter

All Rights Reserved RI ARA 2018©

Balanced Budget Amendment, Rescissions Would Mean Cuts to Social Security and Medicare In response to protests from so-called fiscal conservatives, President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans are considering forcing votes to cut billions of dollars in spending from the funding deal they passed barely two weeks ago. Called "rescissions," the cuts would cancel parts of the bipartisan appropriations measure that averted a government shutdown in March. Republicans are also preparing to make a big push for a balanced budget amendment (BBA). According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a BBA would mean that Social Security would be unable to draw down from its reserves to pay benefits. Benefits in a given year would instead have to be paid out from tax revenue collected that year, or would have to be cut. The same holds true for Medicare, and the benefits paid to civil service and military retirees. With the change, their pensions could only be paid out of the revenues collected that year, not from their pension trust funds. By design, the Social Security trust fund is building up reserves — in the form of Treasury securities backed by the full faith and credit of the United States — which will be drawn down to help pay benefits when

the number of retired “baby boomers” peaks in the late 2020s and early 2030s. Currently, Social Security holds $2.9 trillion in Treasury securities. But under the balanced budget amendment, it would essentially be unconstitutional for Social Security to draw down these savings to pay promised benefits. Social Security would be allowed to use its accumulated Treasury securities to help pay benefits only if the rest of the federal budget ran an offsetting surplus (or if the House and Senate each mustered three-fifths or two-thirds votes to permit deficits). Medicare Part A — the Hospital Insurance trust fund — has the same structure as Social Security. That trust fund currently holds about $200 billion in Treasury securities, but under a balanced budget amendment, it would be unconstitutional for Medicare to draw down those savings to pay hospitalization costs because all federal expenditures — which includes Medicare payments — would have to be covered by taxes collected in the same year. The military retirement and civil service retirement systems,

which have their own trust funds, would be affected in the same way. As a result, the $700 billion in Treasury securities held by the military retirement trust fund and the $900 billion in Treasury securities held by the civil service retirement trust fund would be unavailable to pay promised retirement pensions. “These moves would be terrible for Medicare and Medicaid, as well as Social Security,” said Joseph Peters, Robert Roach, Jr Jr., Secr etar yTreasurer of the Alliance. “The GOP would be reneging on their budget deal before the ink is even dry, as well as endangering our retirement security if they pass a balanced budget amendment. If they truly wanted to trim the deficit, they could roll-back some of the massive tax cuts they gave to the wealthiest Americans earlier this year.” Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Offers Private Insurers a Gift they Don’t Need The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a division of the U.S. Department

of Health and Human Services, has decided to raise the 2019 Medicare Advantage reimbursement rate by 3.4% . CMS had previously proposed a hike of 1.84% in February, but this rate increase is higher than expected. Medicare Advantage (“MA”) plans are administered by private insurance companies. The government reimburses a certain amount per enrollee to the health insurers in return for the care provided. The plans have been highly profitable for the health insurers, leading to significant growth in the industry. They have been able to maintain profitability in these plans by keeping claim costs down. Since April 2017, the industry has grown at a rate of 33.7%, compared with the S&P 500 growth of 11.9%. “This increase by CMS is a giveaway to private insurance Rich Fiesta companies that we should not fritter away,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. “It would be much more useful to spend these funds to help struggling seniors rather than increase insurers’ profits.”

Rhode Island Alliance for Retired Americans, Inc. • 94 Cleveland Street • North Providence, RI • 02904-3525 • 401-480-8381 riarajap@hotmail.com • http://www.facebook.com/groups/354516807278/


A debt crisis is coming. But don’t blame entitlements By Martin Neil Baily, Jason Furman, Alan B. Krueger, Laura D'Andrea Tyson and Janet L. Yellen

Martin Neil Baily, Jason Furman, Alan B. Krueger, Laura D’Andrea Tyson and Janet L. Yellen are all former chairs of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. The U.S. unemployment rate is down to 4.1 percent, and economic growth could well increase in 2018. Consumer and business confidence is high. What could go wrong? A group of distinguished economists from the Hoover Institution, a public-policy think tank at Stanford University, identifies a serious problem. The federal budget deficit is on track to exceed $1 trillion next year and get worse over time. Eventually, ever-rising debt and deficits will cause interest rates to rise, and the portion of tax revenue needed to service the growing debt will take an increasing toll on the ability of government to provide for its citizens and to respond to recessions and emergencies. None of that is in dispute. But the Hoover economists then go wrong by arguing that entitlements are the sole cause of the problem, while the budgetbusting tax bill that was passed last year is described as a “good first step.” Entitlement programs support older Americans and those with low incomes or disabilities. Program costs are growing largely because of the aging of the population. This demographic problem is faced by almost all advanced economies and cannot be solved by a vague call to cut “entitlements” — terminology that dehumanizes the value of

these programs to millions of Americans. The deficit, of course, reflects the gap between spending and revenue. It is dishonest to single out entitlements for blame. The federal budget was in surplus from 1998 through 2001, but large tax cuts and unfunded wars have been huge contributors to our current deficit problem. The primary reason the deficit in coming years will now be higher than had been expected is the reduction in tax revenue from last year’s tax cuts, not an increase in spending. This year, revenue is expected to fall below 17 percent of gross domestic product — the lowest it has been in the past 50 years with the exception of the aftermath of the past two recessions. All of us have supported corporate tax reform. The statutory tax rate was too high, much higher than in other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development economies. However, because of deductions and breaks in the tax code, the effective marginal tax rate was similar to the average among competitor economies. The right way to do reform was to follow the model of the bipartisan tax reform of 1986, when rates were lowered while deductions were eliminated. Instead, the tax cuts passed last year actually added an amount to America’s long-run fiscal challenge that is roughly the same size as the preexisting shortfalls in Social Security and Medicare. The tax cuts are reducing revenue by an average of 1.1 percent of GDP over the next four years. The Hoover authors minimized the cost of the tax cuts by noting that if major provisions are allowed to expire on schedule — certainly an open question, given political realities — they would amount to “only” 0.4 percent of GDP.

Even this magnitude exceeds the Medicare Trustees’ projections of a 0.3 percent of GDP shortfall in Medicare hospital insurance over the next 75 years. Just as entitlements are not the primary cause of the recent jump in the deficit, they also should not be the sole solution. It is important to use the right wording: The main entitlement programs are Social Security, Medicare, veterans benefits and Medicaid. These widely popular programs are indeed large and projected to grow as a share of the economy, not because of increased generosity of benefits but because of the aging of the population and the increase in economywide health costs. There is some room for additional spending reductions in these programs, but not to an extent large enough to solve the long-run debt problem. The Social Security program needs only modest reforms to restore its 75-year solvency, and these should include adjustments in both spending and revenue. Additional revenue is critical because Social Security has become even more vital as fewer and fewer people have defined-benefit pensions. Medicare has been a leader in bending the health-care cost curve. Refor ms to payments and reformed benefit structures in Medicare could do more to hold down its future costs. As we focus on the long-run fiscal situation, our goal should be to put the debt on a declining path as a share of the economy. That will require running smaller deficits in strong economic periods — such as the present — to offset the larger deficits that are needed in recessions to restore demand and avoid deeper crises. Last year’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act turned that economic logic on its head. The economy

was already at or close to full employment and did not need a boost. This year’s bipartisan spending agreement contributed further to the ill-timed stimulus. The Federal Reserve will have to act to make sure the economy does not overheat. Several years ago, there was broad agreement that responding to the looming fiscal challenge required a balanced approach that combined increased revenue with reduced spending. Two bipartisan commissions, Simpson-Bowles and Domenici-Rivlin, pr oposed such approaches that called for tax reform to raise revenue as a percent of GDP and judicious spending cuts. Without necessarily agreeing with these specific plans, we believe a balanced approach is the correct one. Start with spending goals based on the priorities of the American people and then set tax policy to realize adequate revenue. The Hoover economists’ advocacy of paying for large tax cuts with entitlement reductions would take the United States in the wrong direction.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) made a name for himself as a deficit hawk, but now has backed tax and spending bills that will balloon the national debt.

Congressman Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) will not seek reelection in November.

Rhode Island Alliance for Retired Americans, Inc. • 94 Cleveland Street • North Providence, RI • 02904-3525 • 401-480-8381 riarajap@hotmail.com • http://www.facebook.com/groups/354516807278/


Why a Balanced Budget Amendment Would Harm Social Security and Federal Deposit Insurance The problems with a constitutional balanced budget amendment, which the House will vote on this week, go far beyond the significant economic harm it could cause. For instance, its requirement that policymakers offset federal spending in any year with revenues collected in that same year would prevent Social Security and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) from using their reserves for their intended purposes of paying benefits and responding to bank failures, respectively. Social Security. By design, the Social Security trust fund has built up reserves — in the form of Treasury securities backed by the full faith and credit of the United States — which it will use to help pay benefits for

retired “baby boomers” in the late 2020s and early 2030s. Social Security now holds $2.9 trillion in Treasury securities. But under the balanced budget amendment, it would essentially be unconstitutional for Social Security to use these savings to pay promised benefits. Instead, it could have to cut benefits, because all federal spending would have to be covered by tax revenues collected during that same year. More precisely, Social Security could use its accumulated Treasury securities to help pay benefits only if the rest of the federal budget ran an offsetting surplus (or if the House and Senate each mustered the three-fifths vote to override

the balanced budget requirement). Bank deposit insurance. The FDIC holds more than $90 billion of reserves, in the form of Treasury securities, to insure depositors’ savings. It calls upon these reserves when banks fail, jeopardizing those savings. The balanced budget amendment, however, could make it unconstitutional for the FDIC to use its assets to pay deposit insurance, since doing so would generally constitute “deficit spending.” As with Social Security, the FDIC could make these payments only if the rest of the budget ran an offsetting surplus that year or if Congress overrode the balanced budget requirement.

If deposit insurance were no longer effective, panicked depositors could make runs on banks, causing a chain reaction that could turn a recession into a depression. That’s what happened from 1929 to 1933. Indeed, federal deposit insurance was enacted in 1933 — after a series of banking panics — to halt that collapse. In sum, even though Social Security and deposit insurance have built up substantial reserves to pay benefits and claims, those reserves could fail to provide protection under a constitutional balanced budget requirement because the reserves wouldn’t count as revenues in the current fiscal year, while payments from the reserves would count as spending in the current fiscal year.

Medical Marijuana’s ‘Catch-22’: Federal Limits On Research Hinder Patients’ Relief By the time Ann Marie Owen turned to marijuana to treat her pain, she was struggling to walk and talk. She also hallucinated. For four years, her doctor prescribed the 61-year-old a wide range of opioids for her transverse myelitis, a debilitating disease that caused pain, muscle weakness and paralysis. The drugs not only failed to

ease her symptoms, they hooked her. When her home state of New York legalized marijuana for the treatment of select medical ailments, Owens decided it was time to swap pills for pot. But her doctors refused to help. “Even though medical marijuana is legal, none of my doctors were willing to talk to me about it,” she said. “They

just kept telling me to take opioids.” While 29 states have legalized marijuana to treat pain and other ailments, the growing number of Americans like Owen who use marijuana and the doctors who treat them are caught in the middle of a conflict in federal and state laws — a predicament that is only worsened by thin scientific data.

Because the federal government classifies marijuana a Schedule 1 drug — by definition a substance with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse — research on marijuana or its active ingredients is highly restricted and even discouraged in some cases….Read More

CMS Finalizes Medicare Advantage and Part D Changes for 2019 This week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the final Medicare Advantage and Part D 2019 Rate Announcement and Call Letter. This is the finalized annual update to Medicare Advantage and Part D programs, which includes payment updates and policy changes for calendar year (CY) 2019. CMS also released a preview and fact sheet of the Final Rule Implementing Policy and Technical Changes to Part C and Part D for CY 2019,

which will be that address the social formally published at determinants of health, a later date. like nutritional support. Notable changes for the 2019  Finalizing a new method for plan year include: calculating payments to  Eliminating the Star Rating Medicare Advantage plans Measure that separately that employers can offer to captures the results of audits Medicare enrollees. and enforcement actions.  Expanding the list of  Expanding the ability for plans conditions included in the to offer supplemental benefits CMS-HCC Risk Adjustment that are health related but are Model. not covered by Traditional Together with the changes in Medicare, including benefits the proposed rule, this Rate

Announcement and Call Letter provides for increased plan flexibility and reduced oversight. As Medicare Rights outlined in our comments to both draft documents, this flexibility will require increased understanding, vigilance, and research by beneficiaries as they choose and utilize coverage through Medicare Advantage Plans. View the CMS fact sheet. View the 2019 Rate Announcement and Call

Rhode Island Alliance for Retired Americans, Inc. • 94 Cleveland Street • North Providence, RI • 02904-3525 • 401-480-8381 riarajap@hotmail.com • http://www.facebook.com/groups/354516807278/


Pre$cription For Power Investigating the relationships between patient advocacy groups and Big Pharma By Emily Kopp, Elizabeth Lucas and Sydney Lupkin

Patient advocacy groups campaign to raise awareness of diseases, to fund research and to promote policies favorable to their causes on Capitol Hill and at the Food and Drug Administration. But do they represent patients or Big Pharma? Kaiser Health News has compiled and analyzed disclosures to shed light on the flow of money between the pharmaceutical industry and patient advocacy groups. The Pre$cription for Power database will be available for downloading in May. The database currently covers 2015 and will be updated as additional

data become available. Use the search bar to find a drug company or patient group, or click the "View All" links. Kaiser Health News defines patient advocacy groups as IRSregistered nonprofits devoted to assisting patient populations with a particular disease, disability or condition beyond simply providing services or care. We also included groups that assist with drug copays. Using data from GuideStar, we established a list of over a thousand patient advocacy groups that have specific National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE) codes and a threshold of at least $500,000 in revenue. We also examined

individual groups’ mission statements and programs. Concurrently, we sought disclosures of charitable giving for 2015 from 20 pharmaceutical companies and their foundations, if they had them. Fewer than half disclosed their company giving. Fourteen foundations disclosed their giving as required by the Internal Revenue Service. We converted each disclosure into data, and assigned employer identification numbers (EINs) to all recipients, where possible. KHN relied on CitizenAudit and the IRS for additional information on patient advocacy groups reported in their 990 filings.

KHN staffers Vickie Connor, Julie Appleby, Melissa Bailey, Rachel Bluth, Terry Byrne, Doug Carroll and Brianna Labuskes also contributed. KHN's coverage of prescription drug development, costs and pricing is supported in part by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. …..Read More Click on the links below to read more on each. View Patient Advocacy Groups View Pharmaceutical Co. Full Methodology

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Offers Private Insurers a Gift they Don’t Need The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has decided to raise the 2019 Medicare Advantage reimbursement rate by 3.4% . CMS had previously proposed a hike of 1.84% in February, but this rate increase is higher than

expected. Medicare Advantage (“MA”) plans are administered by private insurance companies. The government reimburses a certain amount per enrollee to the health insurers in return for the care provided. The plans have been highly profitable for the health insurers,

leading to significant growth in the industry. They have been able to maintain profitability in these plans by keeping claim costs down. Since April 2017, the industry has grown at a rate of 33.7%, compared with the S&P 500 growth of 11.9%. “This increase by CMS is a giveaway to private insurance

companies that we should not fritter away,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Rich Fiesta Director of the Alliance. “It would be much more useful to spend these funds to help struggling seniors rather than increase insurers’ profits.”

Big Banks Find a Back Door to Finance Subprime Loans very purpose. Bank loans to Exeter and other nonbank financial firms have increased sixfold between 2010 and 2017 to a record high These days, Wells Fargo & Co. of nearly $345 billion, and Citigroup Inc. are unlikely according to a Wall Street to make a $14,000 auto loan to a Journal analysis of regulatory borrower with a subprime credit filings. They are now one of the score. That is now the domain largest categories of bank loans of direct lenders such as Exeter to companies. Finance LLC, based in Irving, Banks say their new approach Texas. of lending to the nonbank But where does Exeter get the lenders is safer than dealing money to make subprime auto directly with consumers with loans? From Wells Fargo and bad credit and companies with Citigroup. They have helped shaky balance sheets. Yet the lend Exeter $1.4 billion for that relationships mean that banks

are still deeply intertwined with the riskier loans they say they swore off after the financial crisis. Loans to nonbank lenders got several banks into trouble during the crisis. Montgomery, Ala.-based Colonial Bank, for instance, became one of the largest bank failures of the era after a nonbank mortgage lender misappropriated more than $1.4 billion from its credit facility with the bank, according to the Justice Department. During the housing boom, banks thought they had unloaded the risk of subprime

mortgages to other institutions through collateralized debt obligations or vehicles known as conduits. Yet in the stress of the crisis, they found the risk landed back with them. “It’s very easy for people to deceive themselves over whether risk has migrated,” said Marcus Stanley, policy director at Americans for Financial Reform, a nonprofit organization that advocates for tougher financial regulation….Read More

Rhode Island Alliance for Retired Americans, Inc. • 94 Cleveland Street • North Providence, RI • 02904-3525 • 401-480-8381 riarajap@hotmail.com • http://www.facebook.com/groups/354516807278/


RI ARA HealthLink Wellness News

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Brain cells keep growing well into our 70s For years, scientists have believed that hippocampal neurons stop being generated as we reach old age. But, a new study dramatically overturns this long-held belief. As the population of the United States lives longer and the number of older adults slowly rises, understanding how the brain reacts as it ages is becoming ever more important. Of particular interest is the production of new neurons, or neurogenesis, in the hippocampus. This is a brain region vital for turning short-

term into long-term memories, among other tasks, such as navigation. If the hippocampus degenerates, so too does memory performance. Over the years, the idea that neurogenesis in the hippocampus stops as we enter our twilight years has been hotly debated. In rodents and primates, for instance, the ability to grow new neurons in this region has been shown to slow with age. As this occurs, one part of the hippocampus called the dentate gyrus, particularly important for the formation of new memories, shrinks in volume. For some

time, scientists have believed that this occurs in humans, too. Recently, researchers from Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute, both in New York City, NY, ran an experiment in the hope of reaching a definitive conclusion. The aging hippocampus revisited Previous studies have explored hippocampal volume in aging humans, but the results have been hampered by the technical difficulties of accurately measuring parts of the brain using scanning technology. To circumvent these issues, the researchers inspected the

whole, autopsied hippocampi of 28 men and women, all aged 14– 79, who had died suddenly. None of the individuals had long-term health problems or cognitive deficits, and none had had a significantly stressful life event in their last 3 months of life. The team also ensured that none of the individuals had been depressed or taking antidepressantmedicatio ns. This is important because previous research by the same team demonstrated that antidepressants negatively affect neurogenesis….Read More

Could berries help to fight cancer? Compounds found in a range of berries may soon help to treat cancer and slow the aging process. According to a new study, the magic resides in their naturally occurring pigments. There is little more pleasing to the eye than a freshly plucked berry. Part of this beauty is thanks to their pigments, or anthocyanins. Particularly prevalent in blueberries, cr anber r ies, raspberries, and blackcurrants, the antioxidantcapabilities of

anthocyanins have intrigued researchers for years. Anthocyanins are a type of flavonoid. Much of the work looking at their antioxidant action has, to date, been carried out in the laboratory rather than in animals. Because of this, there is some debate about whether anthocyanins are easily absorbed in the body. After all, there is a substantial difference between introducing a compound to a cell in a petri

dish and eating it. Despite these concerns, there is growing evidence that anthocyanins may help to protect against some human diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Others have investigated whether or not they might also help in the fight against cancer, and while some laboratory and animal studies have offered hope, observational studies in humans have not been so

encouraging. In short, there is a lot to learn about anthocyanins and how they impact human health. Anthocyanins and their influence Currently, there is little known about how anthocyanins may interact with and influence molecular pathways in the body. This is where today's study comes in.….Read More

US senators question cancer drug’s 1,400% price hike A bipartisan group of senators asked the head of a pharmaceutical company why the cost of a 40year-old, cancer-fighting drug has spiked 1,400 percent over the last four years. A letter released Monday by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, DNev., Sen. Susan Collins, RMaine, and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., is the first step toward a Senate probe into Tri-Source Pharma and its subsidiary NextSource

Biotechnology. NextSource acquired the drug lomustine in 2013 and raised its price. Lomustine was first approved by the Federal Drug Administration in 1976 to treat brain tumors and Hodgkin lymphoma. In a March 22 letter to TriSource Pharma CEO and President Robert DiCrisci, the senators asked for documents to “better understand the factors contributing to the rising cost of lomustine, which has increased nearly 1,400 percent since 2013

for the highest dose.” Collins is chairwoman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging. Cortez Masto also sits on the panel. McCaskill is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Collins and McCaskill have introduced legislation to curb price hikes in medicines and streamline the process for the FDA to approve generic drugs. The senators are asking for

NextSource documents on the sale of lomustine, company profits from sales of the drug, and any communications referring to cost estimates, profit projections and market share analysis. The spike in the drug’s cost prompted a number of media stories in December. A telephone call to NextSource about the Senate inquiry went unanswered. But an undated statement about media coverage of the cost increase of lomustine was posted on the Tri-Source Pharma’s website...Read More

Rhode Island Alliance for Retired Americans, Inc. • 94 Cleveland Street • North Providence, RI • 02904-3525 • 401-480-8381 riarajap@hotmail.com • http://www.facebook.com/groups/354516807278/


Is meditation the answer to cognitive decline? In a study endorsed by the Dalai Lama, individuals who regularly meditate were followed over 7 years. The authors conclude that meditation can enhance mental abilities and protect against age-related cognitive decline. As we age, our cognitive ability slowly slides. The resulting deficits could impact reasoning, memory, and processing speed, among other things. It can also affect our

ability to concentrate and focus. Since people in the United States are now living longer lives, researchers are keen to find ways to keep our brains healthy and alert for longer. To help us retain a sharp focus, scientists have trialed a range of potential interventions — including computer-based cognitive training programs and lifestyle changes. Meditation and mindfulness as interventions have also shown promise. For instance, meditation is considered to

boost a range of cognitive abilities, such as mental clarity, stability, and creativity, while increasing the length of time that someone can hold their focus. Importantly, meditation is easy to practice at home, relatively cost-effective, and unlikely to cause side effects. Several studies have investigated mindful interventions and witnessed certain benefits, such as a reduction in mind wandering. However, few have assessed whether meditation's benefits

can endure over longer periods of time. Meditation over the long-term Over the past few years, an ongoing study has been attempting to fill this gap in our understanding. Scientists from the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) Center for Mind and Brain have been following a group of people who attended a meditation course 7 years ago. Their study was recently published in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement….Read More

Can You Hear Me Now? Senate Bill On Hearing Aids May Make The Answer ‘Yes’ Last December, Deb Wiese bought hearing aids for her parents, one for each of them. She ordered them online from a big-box retailer and paid $719 for the pair. But her parents, in their 80s and retired from farming in central Minnesota, couldn’t figure out how to adjust the volume or change the batteries. They soon set them aside. “Technology is not only unfamiliar but unwelcome” to her parents, Wiese said. “I don’t know what the answer is for people like that.” A bill introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in March could make it easier for

her parents and millions like them to get assistance. It would allow Medicare to pay audiologists to teach beneficiarieshow to adjust to and use their hearing aids as well as how to manage communication with other people, among other things. Under current law, Medicare generally reimburses audiologists for diagnosing hearing loss in older adults but not for providing assistance to fit, adjust and learn to make the most of hearing aids. The proposed bill comes on the heels of a law signed last summer by President Donald Trump that directs the Food and Drug Administration to establish

and regulate a new category of hearing aid to be sold over the counter for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. People will be able to buy products off the shelf without consulting an audiologist or hearing aid dispenser, and standards for online sales will be tightened. The agency has three years to develop safety and other consumer protection standards. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recommendedthat the FDA take that step in a 2016 report. Although it should improve access, the new law doesn’t address one of the biggest barriers faced by the nearly 50

million people with agerelated hearing loss: insurance coverage. Neither traditional Medicare nor most private insurers typically cover hearing aids. (Some Medicare Advantage plans provide some coverage, and some insurers may offer a discount if members use certain suppliers.) “People say, ‘I need hearing aids and I can’t afford them.’ It’s really heartbreaking.”...Read More

Stretching Can Help Get Seniors Moving Stretching leg muscles every day may benefit seniors and other people with mobility problems, a new study reports. Researchers placed splints on lower limbs of older rats to stretch their calf muscles. The splints were placed on one leg for 30 minutes a day, five days a

week, for four weeks. This stretching program increased blood flow to muscles in the lower leg, according to the study published April 4 in the Journal of Physiology. The findings suggest that regular stretching could improve blood flow to leg muscles and improve walking ability in elderly people and others with limited mobility. However, animal studies don't

always produce the same results in humans. "This highlights that even individuals who struggle to walk due to pain or lack of mobility can undertake activity to possibly improve their health," lead researcher Judy MullerDelp said in a journal news release. Muller-Delp is a professor of biomedical sciences at Florida State University. She noted that the researchers

did not test a range of stretches or different time spans. "It is possible that greater stretch or stretch that increases steadily over the four-week period would have an even greater benefit. It is also possible that greater benefit would be seen if the stretching continued for longer," MullerDelp said.

Rhode Island Alliance for Retired Americans, Inc. • 94 Cleveland Street • North Providence, RI • 02904-3525 • 401-480-8381 riarajap@hotmail.com • http://www.facebook.com/groups/354516807278/

April15  

RI ARA April 15, 2018 E-Newsletter

April15  

RI ARA April 15, 2018 E-Newsletter

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