How to measure real potential cost of new health care legislation for elders

By Marc Cohen and Kris Wiitala

Both the House-passed version of ACA repeal legislation, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), and the Senate’s version currently under deliberation – the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) – include a particularly debilitating change: a per capita cap system of funding for Medicaid. This change would dramatically cut federal Medicaid funding to states. It would force states to make difficult decisions between benefit cuts, provider payment cuts and changes to eligibility requirements – or all of these in varying measure – in order to balance their budgets. Analyses have pointed out how a per capita cap system would lead to significant underfunding of long-term services and supports (LTSS), penalize adults and children with disabilities, lead to significant shortfalls in state funding and cause financial challenges for providers. Continue reading

UMass Boston joins Age Friendly University movement

The age-friendly movement seen in cities and towns addressing the needs of their elder residents is also taking root on college campuses around the world.

The University of Massachusetts Boston this year joined other institutions adopting the principles of the Age-Friendly University initiative first proposed by Dublin City University in Ireland.

“The principles of Age-Friendly Universities fit well within the stated mission and values of UMass Boston as an urban campus committed to research, teaching and public service within a supportive environment for students of all ages,” said Nina Silverstein, a professor in the Gerontology Department at UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School.

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Age Friendly Communities: How Cities and Towns Can Adapt to Needs of Older Citizens

The city of Boston enlisted the participation of the UMass Boston Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging when it decided to develop a detailed age-friendly action plan. The center has helped cities and towns across Massachusetts assess the age friendliness of their communities and explore ways to adapt as populations grow older. Professor Jan Mutchler directs the center at the McCormack Graduate School’s Gerontology Institute. She recently talked about the experiences of communities working toward an age-friendly future. This is an edited version of her comments.

Why are cities and towns getting involved with the age friendly movement?

The older population is getting larger in virtually every city and town, and communities aren’t prepared for that. Some communities in regions like Cape Cod and western Massachusetts are getting older a lot faster because they are retirement destinations. But at a minimum it’s the aging of people who are already living in communities that contributes to the interest in the movement. Those communities may begin to reconsider what makes for a high quality of life. So you have to think, how do we run the business of our town? Continue reading

UMass Boston Research Team Wins Grant for New Healthy Aging Reports

The Tufts Health Plan Foundation has commissioned a UMass Boston gerontology research team to produce 2018 Healthy Aging Data Reports for Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

The reports are designed to help residents, agencies, providers and governments understand the older adults who live in their cities and towns – their ages, living arrangements, health status, strengths and vulnerabilities. Research and preparation of the reports will be funded by a two-year grant of $459,000 from the Tufts Health Plan Foundation. Continue reading

Assessing Potential Impact of Medicaid Caps on States, Care Workers

The American Health Care Act under consideration in the U.S. Senate would create varying degrees of economic stress on individual states and could lead to the elimination of as many as 713,000 jobs held by home health and personal care aides, according to new research prepared by UMass Boston Gerontology Professor Marc Cohen.

The legislation, which has been passed by the House, would place limits on spending for Medicaid in the future. The report by Cohen, who is co-director of the LeadingAge LTSS Center @ UMass Boston, identifies which states could be more vulnerable to those cuts. Continue reading

PhD Student Mai See Yang Brings Gerontology Research to Hmong Community

By Anna Fisher-Pinkert

When Mai See Yang was a kid, her dad didn’t talk much about his life before he came to the United States. She knew her parents were refugees, like the many other Hmong immigrants in her hometown of Fresno, California. It was only later that she learned that her father had been a child soldier in Laos in the 1970s.

Inspired by her father and his generation of survivors, Yang is working to understand the long-lasting consequences of wartime trauma. Last month, Yang became the first Hmong student to graduate with a PhD in gerontology from UMass Boston. This is her fourth degree. Continue reading

Winning Capstone Projects Focus on Telehealth Services, Elderly Prisoners

The Management of Aging Services Program has selected outstanding research projects by graduate students from Connecticut and California as 2017 winners of its annual Capstone awards.

Each year, a committee selects two outstanding Capstone papers by students highlighting their mastery of topics in aging, involving policy development and analysis, program management, administration, and finance. This year, the committee selected work by Jennifer Roy McCaughey of Southington, Conn., and Randy Dinning of West Sacramento, Calif.

Dinning’s Capstone project, “Telehealth and Skilled Nursing Facilities – Resolving the Disconnect,” recommends ways to help those facilities take better advantage of telehealth resources.

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Gerontology PhD Mai See Yang Delivers UMass Boston Graduate Commencement Address

Mai See Yang received her doctoral degree in gerontology this year from the University of Massachusetts Boston. She was honored as the selection to be the student speaker for the UMass Boston graduate commencement ceremony. The following is her commencement address delivered at the ceremony May 25 at the Blue Hills Pavillion in Boston.

Good afternoon family, friends, professors, staff, and my fellow members of the class 2017. Congratulations!

It is with great honor that I address you all at the end of my time here at UMass Boston. The graduating class of 2017 being here today together is an impressive achievement. Continue reading

Boston Age-Friendly Action Plan Developed With Gerontology Institute Research

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the city’s Elderly Commission have launched the first-ever Age-Friendly Boston Action Plan. He called it a blueprint to make Boston the best city and place to live for older adults within three years.

The 75 action items in the plan were developed through 25 listening sessions, featuring engagement from over 4,000 older residents throughout the city developed in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Boston, AARP and the Tufts Health Plan Foundation.

The Elderly Commission formed a partnership with the Gerontology Institute at UMass Boston’s McCormack Graduate School, supported by a grant from the Tufts Health Plan Foundation, to conduct research based on the guidelines set forth by the World Health Organization. Grounded in community feedback, the plan identifies recommendations and action items the City will take to enhance the quality of life for Boston’s older adult residents. Continue reading

Questions and Answers About the New LeadingAge LTSS Center @ UMass Boston

The Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston and LeadingAge have joined forces to create a new research center called the LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston. Katie Sloan, LeadingAge president and CEO; Len Fishman, director of the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston; and LTSS Center Co-directors Robyn Stone and Marc Cohen recently answered questions about the new center.

WHY DID LEADINGAGE AND UMASS BOSTON DECIDE TO CREATE THE LEADINGAGE LTSS CENTER @UMASS BOSTON?

Katie Sloan: LeadingAge and the Gerontology Institute at UMass Boston share a strong commitment to improving the quality, affordability and accessibility of long-term services and supports (LTSS) through data and evidence of what really works. So, it made perfect sense for us to bring together our respective expertise and resources in a joint center focused on applied research in the LTSS field. Continue reading