In Homage to Medicare and Medicaid

Ray Hanley is president and CEO of the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care and was Arkansas Medicaid director from 1986-2002. He wrote this stirring op-ed piece on the role that the two services have played in Arkansas over the years. But even for non-Arkansans, it’s a great short read that covers everything from the origins of the two programs, to the stigma once associated with Medicaid (generally unlike Medicare), to the expansion of the programs over the last 50 years. “Medicaid is far from a perfect program, and reform is both needed and inevitable,” he says, and he’s not wrong — but that doesn’t mean the programs haven’t already done a lot of good.

$18.1 Billion in Senior Student Loans

Up until 1996, social security checks were entirely protected from any kind of garnishment. Then, Congress carved out an exception for student loan debt. With 706,000 homes headed by a senior citizen, aged 65 or over, that is still carrying student loan debt (and a whopping $18.1 billion in total), it’s worth keeping in mind that if you fall behind on those payments, your social security check is not immune. Aside from the best advice — keep up on your payments — it may also be worth reaching out to your representatives. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) is leading up an effort to review the current rules.

The Act Is Back!

Last week, this blog reported the Older Americans Act had lapsed. Earlier this week, The National Law Review reported that the Senate passed the Older Americans Reauthorization Act of 2015. Welcome back, Act! This week marks the 50th anniversary of the signing into law of the original Older Americans Act, and this new reauthorization will support many of the initiatives discussed over the course of last week, including providing nutritional services for nearly 12 million seniors, and specific support for home-delivered meals.