Medicare and Social Security increases and revised nursing home regulations

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    By Kay Kaylor
    SUN Columnist
    For San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging (SJBAAA), I am not only a part-time long-term care ombudsman, advocating for residents at Pine Ridge, a 24-hour extended care home, and BeeHive, an assisted living residence. I also am an aging and disability resource specialist and trained Senior Medicare Patrol and State Health Insurance Assistance Program counselor. Information on the many aging and care concerns will be included here.
    Last week, the Social Security Administration announced the 2020 Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for benefits, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services increased the 2020 premiums and deductibles for Part B. The COLA will be 1.6 percent, or $1.60 for every $100 of Social Security benefits. The standard Part B premium will increase from $135.50 to $144.60, or a 6.7 percent increase. The deductible for Part B will change from $185 to $198, or a 7 percent increase.
    For some fixed-income Medicare beneficiaries with limited assets, not counting a residence or one vehicle per person, help with premiums is available. The county Department of Human Services takes applications for Part B premium help, otherwise known as the Medicare Savings Program.
    Phase 3 of revised nursing home regulations
    Nov. 28 is the final date for implementing the revised nursing home regulations, initiated with Phase 1 in 2016. Phase 3 includes rules for new programs, such as the Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement (QAPI) program and compliance, ethics and training programs. In another change, nursing homes must create an infection preventionist role for at least one person, with participation in the quality assessment and assurance committee. More details are available online.
    SJBAAA offers resources for people age 60 and older or on Medicare. For further information, please call me at 264-0501, ext. 1 or send an email to adrc@sjbaaa.org.