May is both Older Americans Month and Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health is a critical issue for older Americans, as one in five seniors has a mental health issue, and older men have the highest suicide rate of any group, according to the CDC. The mental health needs of seniors and persons with disabilities who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid are often overlooked in traditional medical settings, ramping up costs and leading to inadequate care. States and advocates need to focus attention on the behavioral health needs of these vulnerable populations.
States and the federal government spend over $14 billion a year on Medicaid managed long-term services and supports—yet, there has never been an clear federal regulation defining state and managed care plan responsibilities in this massive enterprise. Until now. Last week, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a final regulation on Medicaid Managed Care. This new regulation details, among other things, the federal government’s expectations for states and managed care organizations (MCOs) that contract to deliver managed long-term services and supports (LTSS) for older adults and people with disabilities.
The last few weeks have brought some good news regarding Held v. Colvin, a case we (along with Foley Hoag LLP and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, or GLAD) filed in March 2015 against the Social Security Administration (SSA) on behalf of Plaintiffs Hugh Held and Kelley Richardson-Wright and a proposed nationwide class. We filed this case to stop SSA from attempting to collect “overpayments” from very low income people over 65 and people with disabilities receiving SSI who had been married to someone of the same sex on or before June 2013 when the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).