Monday, March 27, 2006

A new job for me

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, but it's been busy. One reason is this: I'm switching over to online here at the Orlando Sentinel. I was named senior editor of, essentially the editor in charge of the daily/breaking news part of the web site day to day. It's one of two new senior editors (other does interactive stuff) who report to an AME for online. Our web operation is integrated into the newsroom, so I will be working with other editors and reporters, and continue to write the crime blog. When needed, I will do some live on-the-scene reporting/blogging, say from a big news event or major trial. Should be fun. I'm not sure what it will mean in finding time to do the Age Beat blog but expect to keep it going as best I can. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

“It's your responsibility to help your mom”

From tomorrow's Washington Post but online tonight -- Bush Prescribes Family Help on Drug Plan: “Faced with a persistent questioner who asked him what could be done to help her elderly mother understand Medicare's new prescription drug plan, President Bush offered a suggestion that at first elicited shocked gasps, and then supportive applause, from an audience of retirees in Silver Spring yesterday.”Look, I'm not going to tell you your business, but I think it's your responsibility to help your mom,“ Bush told Wendy Meyeroff. She had asked him to consider extending the May 15 deadline for registering for the new benefit without a penalty, but Bush refused.”

When I read that, I wonder two things: Is it insulting to assume seniors NEED the help of their boomer children? Or, conversely, is it that the plan is too complicated for even boomers?

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Sopranos, Clinton and Medicare

Click the link below for a quite funny post on the Right Here Now senior blog about a headline seen in the first show of the Sopranos:

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Mood effects in young and old

From EurekAlert today: Mood affects young and old differently, study finds
The effect of mood on how people process information changes greatly as they age, suggests new research from the Georgia Institute of Technology. NIH/National Institute on Aging Research

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Old beat young in quitting smoking

Another one from EurekAlert today: Journal of American Geriatrics Society Older people more successful than younger in quitting smoking Older women appear to quit smoking and stay off cigarettes in higher numbers than men in their age group, and older men and women are more likely to quit if they have recently received a diagnosis of cancer, according to researchers at Duke University Medical Center. Duke University Medical Center

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Two new Kaiser Medicare briefs

Just in: “The Kaiser Family Foundation today released two new
issue briefs
that describe the current landscape of private plans participating in Medicare. The Growth of Private Plans in Medicare, 2006 details the different types of private plan options available to people on Medicare. These include Medicare Advantage plans (such as Medicare HMOs, PPOs and private fee-for-service plans) and new stand-alone prescription drug plans. ...
The Landscape of Private Firms Offering Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage in 2006
describes key characteristics of the organizations that offer the new Medicare drug benefit, and analyzes how companies are positioning themselves to attract Medicare enrollees. ... The briefs, authored by Marsha Gold, Sc.D. of Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., are available

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

'A traveling infomercial'

Bush Campaigns for Medicare Drug Plan - Los Angeles Times: CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. -- With the initial enrollment period for his Medicare prescription drug plan more than half over, President Bush played the role of pitchman today, personally campaigning at a community meeting and senior residence to encourage participation in the program. “Take a look!” the president said, his rising pitch conveying urgency. “It's a good deal.” For 34 minutes, he was the emcee of a traveling infomercial, calling on the testimony of his expert witnesses: the head of the Medicare program, the manager of a grocery chain's pharmacies, a retired couple who had signed up for the program and had little but praise for it.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

Another view of Medicare signup

On Washington Post web site this afternoon: Survey Refutes Criticism of Medicare Drug Plan: A majority of senior citizens in a recent poll say they had no trouble using -- or signing up for -- the controversial 10-week-old Medicare prescription drug plan, health insurance officials said today. The survey of more than 800 seniors differs from assertions by politicians and health and senior citizen advocacy groups that many Medicare enrollees have had difficulty choosing a drug plan from among the dozens that are being offered. “The data are very encouraging,” Karen Ignagni, chief executive of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the trade group that commissioned the survey, said at an afternoon briefing in Washington. “ . . . What seniors are saying is this program is working for them. It's making a difference.” Advocacy groups said they were deeply skeptical of the results of the survey...

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La Raza and comic highlight scam

Oddly, within 10 minutes of getting a news release today from the National Council of La Raza about a series of comic strips in Baldo highlighting a lottery scam that targets mostly Latino elders, I got a release from Orlando Police about two recent incidents of the scam. Here's a link to La Raza release:

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Newest ABO is available

The latest AGE BEAT ONLINE, the newsletter of the Journalists Exchange on Aging (JEoA) is available.
March 10, 2006 - DOUBLE ISSUE Volume 6, Numbers 8 and 9
        NOTE: Let ABO Editor Paul Kleyman know if you have technical problems receiving issues of ABO or if you'd like to be removed from the list. Phone: (415) 974-9619; e-mail: Thanks for help on this issue go to John Cutter and Marilynn Larkin. The most recent four issues of ABO are posted online at

2. RESOURCES: Civic Ventures New Online Guide to Boomer Aging; National Press Foundation Seminar on Retirement; Link to New Census Bureau Report on Aging
3. ON THE ABO BLOG: New Report on Ageism in America
LARKIN'S LINKS: Aging and Technology
For full file, go to, where you can download a PDF of the file.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A $75 million Medicare loss?

Found tonight on ResourceShelf Docuticker...Allergen Immunotherapy for Medicare Beneficiaries: “Allergen Immunotherapy--MedicareSource: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector GeneralAllergen Immunotherapy for Medicare Beneficiaries (PDF; 656 KB)”OIG found that approximately 62 percent of allergen immunotherapy and related services allowed by Medicare in 2001 were not medically necessary (and, therefore, not covered by Medicare), were miscoded, and/or were undocumented. These inappropriately paid services potentially cost the program and its beneficiaries approximately $75 million. Furthermore, approximately 70 percent of Medicare beneficiaries who received allergen immunotherapy in 2001 received care that did not meet professionally recognized standards at some point during their course of treatment.“

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Embargoed report on aging available, if...

If you have a signon to see embargoed Census reports, the press release and PDF of the report are now available to you at See item below about news briefing. Reports (and information on how to obtain access to embargoes reports) are here:

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Census, NIH plan briefing on new report

Hi all, in case you missed this, it just came in email:



Mike Bergman                                    Susan Farrer or Linda Joy
Public Information Office                       National Institute on Aging
(301) 763-3030/457-3670                   (301) 496-1752
   (301) 457-1037 (TDD)                   e-mail: <>
      e-mail: <>

        New Census, NIH Report Cites Dramatic Shifts in U.S. Aging

        Media Telebriefing, Thursday, March 9, 10:30-11:30 a.m. EST

Reporters are invited to take part in a phone-in telebriefing about 65+ in the United States: 2005, a major, new report on aging published by the U.S.

Census Bureau and commissioned by the National Institute on Aging, a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

65+ in the United States: 2005 cites dramatic shifts in demographic,
health, and economic aspects of aging in America and suggests how baby boomers, the first of whom turn 60 in 2006, will further redefine aging in the future. The report covers five important areas: growth of the older population, longevity and health, economic characteristics, geographic distribution, social and other characteristics of people 65 and over.

Telebriefing Information

When:  Thursday, March 9, 2006; 10:30-11:30 a.m. EST

Who:     Participants will first make brief remarks and then answer
-- Louis Kincannon, director, U.S. Census Bureau
-- Richard J. Hodes, M.D., director, National Institute on Aging, NIH
-- Victoria A. Velkoff, Ph.D., chief of the Aging Studies Branch, U.S.
Census Bureau
-- Richard M. Suzman, Ph.D., associate director, Behavioral and Social Research, National Institute on Aging, NIH

How:   Reporters can participate by calling toll-free phone number and
using the confirmation
       code below.

       Call-in number: (877) 704-5391
       Confirmation code: 9548806

What:  Reporters with assigned logins and passwords may access the full
      report, 65+ in the United States, under embargo until March 9, 10:35
      a.m., EST, by visiting the "embargoed releases" section at
      <> on the Census
      Bureau Web site. Media members without logins and passwords can
      obtain a temporary login and password by calling the Census Bureau
      Public Information Office at (301) 763-3030.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Senate reports on Medicare complaint troubles

From tomorrow's Washington Post, but online tonight: Senate Report Faults Medicare's Handling of Complaints: “Medicare's process for investigating complaints about bad care is ”broken,“ leaves patients in the dark, and is of ”no benefit to improving the overall quality“ of medical care received by millions of elderly and disabled beneficiaries, Senate investigators have found.”

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New meaning for Keep on Truckin'

From the Omaha World-Herald ... “The American Trucking Associations are looking at a new pool of potential truck drivers: the over-50 crowd. The ATA announced that it will participate in the Alliance for an Experienced Workforce, which promotes ways to recruit and retain workers over age 50. Truck driving could be the opportunity a baby boomer has been looking for, said the president of the Nebraska Trucking Association.”

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Saturday, March 04, 2006

AARP's and Medicare Part D

From today's LA Times: New Drug Program Is a Benefit for AARP - Los Angeles Times:
WASHINGTON — In late 2003, when the Bush administration was struggling to get its Medicare prescription drug program through Congress, a timely endorsement by AARP helped turn the tide in its favor. But the program has become more than just a legislative victory for the influential lobbying group and its pro-senior-citizen agenda. The private insurance plan carrying AARP's label is emerging as the leading choice of Medicare beneficiaries signing up for drug coverage. With at least 1.8 million members and counting, the AARP plan has the potential to generate royalty revenues amounting to tens of millions of dollars for the organization. ... AARP spokesman Steve Hahn (said), “Any money AARP makes will get plowed back into the services our members want.”

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Young out means old in

Don't skip today's NY Times piece on young people leaving Vermont. It includes the following graph. (I heard similar things about a city in my county in Florida, worrying that too many age-restricted communities wasn't the best thing: Vermont Losing Prized Resource as Young Depart - New York Times:
“While Vermont's population of young people shrinks, the number of older residents is multiplying because Vermont increasingly attracts retirees from other states. It is now the second-oldest state, behind Maine.”

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Dychtwald on “The Power Years”

I still haven't located a Harvard Business Review, to see Ken Dychtwald's article on “Managing Middlescence,” which I mentioned in earlier post. I did come upon this interview Ken did about his new book, “The Power Years,” from the Motley Fool radio show:
NPR : Ken Dychtwald: The Changing Face of Retirement:
“Ken Dychtwald: The Changing Face of Retirement: The Motley Fool, February 24, 2006 · Beginning on Jan. 1, 2006, every 8 seconds, another North American baby boomer will be turning 60. That's about 11,000 each day and 4.5 million each year. So what will it mean for society? What will it mean for you? David Gardner talks about the changing face of retirement with Ken Dychtwald, author of The Power Years: A User's Guide to the Rest of Your Life.”

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Friday, March 03, 2006

But it's not a reason for divorce

“In a study of 150 couples, mostly in their 60s, researchers found that women who behaved in a hostile manner during marital disputes were more likely to have atherosclerosis, especially if their husbands were also hostile.” Find the Reuters piece here:

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Blood-sucking journalism for a Friday afternoon

From the People's Weekly World, which describes itself as a direct descendant of the Daily Worker, posted this today for its March 4 edition. I've said before I think Social Security, as an issue, isn't dead, but not sure what I think of the vampire imagery. Still, certainly a view not covered much. "A vampire is not really dead until a wooden stake is pushed through its heart (so they say). The Vampire of the Empire arose last month and presented to Congress a federal budget proposal containing a Social Security privatization plan that, unless defeated, will suck the blood out of America's seniors and future seniors." You can find the whole piece here:

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Looking forward to (Cheney's?) retirement

An excerpt from Vice President Dick Cheney's remarks today to the 2006 Savers Summit:
"Today, the average American can expect to live well beyond his or her working years. And with the benefits of modern medicine -- and all we've learned about prevention and healthy living -- retirement is increasingly becoming a period of tremendous activity and vigor. As individuals, we have more and more reasons to consider retirement as something to look forward to. Come to think of it, I know some folks who probably look forward to seeing me retire. (Laughter.)"

You can find it at link below, with several comments on Medicare, HSA's and Social Security:

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Are 2 plans better than 1?

From Wednesday's NYTimes. Here's one I hadn't heard:
In Medicare Maze, Some Find They're Tangled in Two Drug Plans - New York Times: KITTANNING, Pa. — Having struggled to fathom Medicare's new drug coverage, tens of thousands of beneficiaries are perplexed to find themselves actively enrolled in two prescription drug plans at the same time.

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