CMS Launches First National Nursing Home Ratings

American seniors are living longer and better than ever before, developing fewer disabilities and smoking less. But some experts fear a surge in elderly obesity could cancel out many of those health gains. In the past decade, smoking among Americans over 50 has decreased by 29%. Between 1982 and 1999, obesity in that same group has nearly doubled, according to an AARP report. The report also found:senior living

60% of US adults are overweight or obese;

300 million people worldwide are obese, and 750 million are overweight;

In the US, preventable obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and tobacco-related illnesses cost the nation $270 billion per year.

Source: Associated Press 5-21-2002

National Notes

CMS Cites Nursing Home Complaints on Web Site

Date:5/20/2002

As part of its efforts to give seniors and families more information on nursing home quality, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), https://www.cms.gov/, has now placed the results of complaint investigations on its Web site. This data is in addition to the existing inspection results for the three most recent state nursing home inspections currently reported.

People who are looking into nursing home care for themselves or a loved one will find on the site the health deficiencies for nursing homes that have been cited as a result of investigations after complaints were filed.

You can find the new information at

www.medicare.gov/NHCompare/home.asp.

Source:www.seniors.gov 5-2002

A new bill introduced in the US House of Representatives would create an outpatient prescription drug benefit for seniors, funded by the transfer of federal estate tax revenues to the Medicare program. The bill would also make substantial changes to the estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax provisions of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001.

Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced the bill, called the Medicare Outpatient Prescription Drug Coverage Funding Act of 2002. Under the bill, the estate tax would not be repealed in 2010. Instead, the maximum estate tax rate would be set at 45% in 2007 and thereafter, and the exemption amount of $3.5 million coming in 2009 would be made permanent. Though the estate tax would not be repealed, the sunset provisions of the 2001 Tax Act would be (for estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer taxes), and the new bill would provide some permanent estate tax relief.

Unless the tax cuts of the Tax Relief Act of 2001 are made permanent, they will expire on midnight of December 31, 2010. The US House of Representatives recently passed legislation to repeal the Act’s sunset provisions, but the bill faces a vicious battle in the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) has vowed to “oppose it very aggressively in the days and weeks ahead.”

The 229-198 House vote was mostly along party lines, with nine Democrats and one Republican crossing over. Democrats argued the measure would reduce federal revenues by $373 billion in 2012 and by $4 trillion over the following decade. This, they said, would make budget problems, along with the solvency of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, even more troublesome.

But Republicans accused Democrats of using scare tactics and claimed that Social Security would not be affected. The more important issue, according to Republicans, is giving taxpayers the certainty to make long-term plans.