Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

The California Legislature is in session, and AARP is still backing the following bills.  (Let your Representatives and Senators know you want them to back them, too.)

AB 458 – CA Affordable Drug Importation Act – Directs the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to develop and implement a prescription drug wholesale importation program to allow for the importation of safe, affordable drugs from Canada.

Allows for the expansion of the Canadian drug importation program to include prescription drug suppliers from other major nations upon the enactment of federal legislation authorizing such practice.  Many of the manufacturers producing these drugs have already been approved by the FDA to sell pharmaceuticals on the U.S. market; and currently, at least 40% of the prescription drugs used in the U.S. are manufactured abroad.

DHHS will establish eligibility criteria for the types of drugs that may be imported.  Eligible drugs are those that will result in the greatest cost savings, such as expensive specialty and rare-disease drugs.

In addition to lowering costs, this bill protects patients who are currently forced to mail-order unregulated drugs by making sure that imported drugs are safe and effective.  Safety standards regulated by Health Canada and the European Union are as tough as FDA standards.

AB 911 / SB 515 – Long-Term Services & Support – Creates the framework & governance structure for a future Long-Term Services and Support (LTSS) benefit.  Established the California LTSS Board. 

Requires the LTSS Board to manage and invest revenue deposited in the California Long-Term Services & Supports Benefits Trust Fund.  Would, upon appropriation, finance long-term services and support for eligible individuals.

AB 84 – Emergency Paid Sick Leave – Extends paid sick leave up to 80 hours for most California employees who do not receive PSL through their job for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.  They must work for an employer with 25 or more employees for this to apply.

Allows individuals to take Paid Sick Leave to care for someone diagnosed with COVID-19.  Allows individuals to take Paid Sick Leave to care for a loved one whose place of care, such as adult day care, is closed due to COVID-19.

SB 650 – Nursing Home Reform: Financial Transparency – Requires an organization that operates, conducts, owns, manages, or maintains a skilled nursing facility, or facilities, to prepare and file an annual consolidated financial report. The report must include data from all operating entities, license holders, and related parties in which the organization has an ownership or control interest of 5% or more and that provides any service, facility, or supply to the skilled nursing facility.

Requires management companies and property companies that are not related by ownership or control to one of organizations, but that contract with or have entered into leases with one of those organizations, to file an annual consolidated financial report.  The bill would require the office to post those reports and related documents to its internet website.

Legislative News…Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

AARP is fighting to improve paid sick leave policies for California workers who are impacted by COVID-19; especially those family caregivers who are helping to keep their older loved ones out of hospitals and nursing homes.  Sufficient paid sick leave of up to 10 days must be available to all California workers:

•  SUPPORTING CAREGIVERS:  Family caregivers are the front line of defense to keep their loved ones out of hospitals or nursing homes. Across California, more than 4.7 million family caregivers provide critical assistance to their older parents, spouses, and other loved ones–most while also juggling full- or part-time jobs.  Family Caregivers contribute more than 4 billion hours of unpaid care each year, valued at approximately $63 Billion.

•  STAYING HOME when you or a loved one is sick should not mean losing your pay or even your job; especially during a public health emergency like COVID-19.

•  EXTRAORDINARY TIMES call for California leaders to do more. Utilize every tool available to make sure California workers, including family caregivers, have access to up to 10 days of paid sick leave per year during the COVID-19 emergency.

•  AARP IS ASKING us to contact our State Senator and our State Assembly Member and ask them to support the implementation of emergency paid leave through the state budget process.

AARP is also fighting for older Americans to be prioritized in getting COVID-19 vaccines because the science has shown that older people are at higher risk of death. Ninety-five percent of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. have occurred among people who were 50 or older.  Eight out of 10 COVID-19 deaths reported in the U.S. have been in people 65 and older, according to the latest demographic data available from the CDC.  Part of the reason risk increases with age is that people are more likely to have other health issues later in life, and underlying health conditions are a huge driver of complications that arise from COVID-19.  A June report from the CDC found that hospitalizations for people with COVID-19 were six times as high for patients with chronic health conditions, compared to otherwise healthy individuals; deaths among this population were 12 times as high.  We are being asked to contact our state representatives to enact legislation to get those covid vaccines to us sooner.

We need to let our Federal Representatives know that we want them to continue fighting for the ACCESS Act:  AARP is pleased to endorse the Advancing Connectivity during the Coronavirus to Ensure Support for Seniors Act (ACCESS Act).  We appreciate the bipartisan leadership and commitment to improve access to virtual visitation for nursing home residents and their families during the coronavirus public health emergency.  During this frightening time, the health, safety, and well-being of people living in nursing homes, assisted living, and other residential care facilities is paramount, which is why it is so critical that they have the ability to virtually visit and communicate with their loved ones, including but not limited to if in-person visitation is restricted.  Expanding access to telehealth in nursing homes can also help ensure more efficient and effective access to care.  The ACCESS Act would provide $50 million to the Telehealth Resource Center Program to help facilitate the development of telehealth technologies for nursing homes.

Importantly, the legislation provides grants to nursing homes to support virtual visits and requires these facilities to ensure residents can access these visits and get the help they need to do so.  It is important to enable more residents and families to stay connected, including via video, both to help combat social isolation and to allow families to ensure their loved ones are being well cared for.

 Please stay informed and have a happy St Patrick’s Day!

Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

On his first day in office, President Biden signed 28 (!) executive orders, setting a new record.  Looks as if President Biden wanted to make a statement.  Now, states’ attorneys general are looking very closely at them and taking issue with some.

It looks as if 2021 will be a very interesting year.  We may be tempted to think, “Well, at least it’s not 2020, the year we all want to forget!”  However, the new year is proving to be difficult as well.  The coronavirus continues to rage, with new strains spreading quickly throughout the world (that may or may not bow to the vaccines we already have or are developing).  Nonetheless, we hope you have gotten your appointments — as the current vaccines have proven to be highly effective for what we’re dealing with today!

Here is a rundown of some California legislation (with author/sponsor) that was passed in 2020:

AB 890 (Wood) Nurse Practitioners – Full Practice Authority – Allows nurse practitioners (NPs) who meet certain standards to transition to practice at the full level of their training without the routine presence of a physician.  This will increase access to primary care for millions of Californians. – SIGNED by the Governor

SB 1196 (Umberg) – Price Gouging – Expands existing protections for consumers in several important ways.  First, it applies price-gouging restrictions to existing sellers as well as new-product sellers who are charging unreasonably high prices for critical supplies.  It keeps prices from going up in a declaration of a state of emergency and keeps them from going up beyond 30 days after such a declaration. – SIGNED by the Governor

SB 1383 (Jackson) – Paid Family Leave Job Protections – This will protect working Californians from losing their jobs when they take leave to care for themselves or a seriously ill family member. – SIGNED by the Governor

SB 1123 (Chang) – Elder Abuse – Update Definitions for Use by Law Enforcement – Amends California Penal Code 368.5 to align the definition of elder and dependent adult abuse with the definition currently found in the Welfare and Institutions Code.  It also requires that the updated definitions be included in updates of policy manuals and handbooks used by law enforcement agencies.  This means that law enforcement agencies will have accurate terms to use in the course of reporting or investigating claims of abuse. – SIGNED by the Governor

SB 852 (Pan) – Prescription Drugs – Office of Drug Contracting and Manufacturing – Requires the California Health and Human Services Agency to enter into partnerships to increase competition, lower prices, and address shortages in the market for generic prescription drugs, to reduce the cost of prescription drugs for public and private purchasers, taxpayers, and consumers, and to increase patient access to affordable drugs. – SIGNED by the Governor

AB 2644 (Wood) – Nursing Homes – Transparency Requirements – Adds a much-needed element of transparency and accountability for California’s skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) during public health emergencies caused by a communicable disease, such as COVID-19.  AB 2644 mandates several measures that will protect nursing home residents while also giving them access to the advocacy support of a long-term care ombudsman.  Moreover, AB 2644 requires that SNFs ensure that health care providers (HCPs) receive infection prevention and control training.  AB 2644 makes this common-sense provision applicable at all times, not just during an emergency. – SIGNED by the Governor

And it looks as if Governor Newsom has included the older generations in his budget proposal, which enhances funding for many programs that help older Californians remain living in their homes and communities as they age.

Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

It looks as if we will all get our covid stimulus checks, albeit smaller than anticipated. Thank the extra addendums, riders that were added to the original bill.  The president tried to get bigger checks, but here is what is in the bill:

  • Stimulus payments: Americans will receive up to $600 per child and adult.
  • Unemployment benefits:  Two expiring CARES Act programs were extended for another 11 weeks:  Unemployment Assistance and Emergency Compensation.
  • PPP:  The Payment Protection Program is given another $284 billion.
  • Housing evictions:  The moratorium for evictions was extended through the end of January.
  • Schools: The bill gives $82 billion to schools and colleges.
  • Testing:  The agreement includes $20 billion for the purchase of vaccines, $8 billion for vaccine distribution, $20 billion for states to conduct testing and $20 billion for health care providers.
  • Transportation:  $45 billion for transportation, including $16 billion for support of airlines, employees, and contractors, $14 billion for transit systems, $10 billion for highways, $2 billion for intercity buses, $2 billion for airports and $1 billion for Amtrak.
  • Tax provisions:  There are a host of tax provisions, targeted both at individuals and businesses.

So, we have a lot to look forward to, including president-elect Biden being sworn in on January 20th.  

In practical terms, individuals, families, and communities should see relief in 2021 – from COVID with vaccines, from economic downturn with reenergized commerce, opportunities, and activities. 

At AARP, we have many more battles and challenges to look forward to.  AARP has and is continuing to address critical Nursing Home issues at the State and Federal Level. We are continuing to raise this issue at the state and national level as immediate action is needed to protect the vulnerable in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

California’s Impact:  From October 2020 data, at least 6,159 nursing home and other long-term care facility residents and staff have died due to COVID-19, or 34% of California’s COVID-19 related deaths are from long-term care facilities (https://covidtracking.com/data/longertermcare).  More than 76% of California’s nursing homes had at least one confirmed resident COVID-19 case and at least 37.6% had at least one confirmed staff case.

AARP’s COVID19 Nursing Home Dashboard has demonstrated that deaths and cases are no longer declining as they did during the summer and in fact resident and staff cases are beginning to increase, presenting a considerable risk to nursing home residents, staff and to their families.

AARP Asks Members to:

  • Act NOW to ensure care facilities have adequate staffing, testing, and PPE they need to identify and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Act NOW to include guardrails to ensure that taxpayer dollars provided to long-term care facilities are used towards items and services that directly relate to the health and safety of residents and staff.
  • Act NOW to take action to ensure facilities are required to report publicly on a daily basis demographic information if they have confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths.
  • Act NOW to take action to make virtual visitation available and facilitated as a safety measure between residents and their families.
  • Act NOW to reject blanket immunity for long-term care facilities related to COVID-19.

Please call or write your state and local legislators to keep fighting for Nursing Homes!

Legislative News…Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

In early 2020, the CDC realized the most vulnerable Covid-19 population was senior citizens.  Despite advances in protocols, there are still two ways for seniors in nursing homes to get Covid: staff and visitors.

Testing nursing home visitors is important.  Current guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) restrict the number of visitors and focus on temperature checks and screening questionnaires, as well as observing for signs or symptoms of illness.

This may have been reasonable early on in the pandemic when any sort of a screen was better than no screen, but it’s insufficient now.  We have had point-of-care testing for months now, and more recently, rapid antigen tests that require no special lab equipment and no specialized storage.

Stronger mitigation measures for nursing home staff.  It is likely that infected staff are driving the rise in cases, as visitations are relatively restricted.  An AP report shows a proportionate increase in the number of staff cases and resident cases.  This is naturally difficult to control because the staff live in the community and work in the nursing homes.  Their job is vital.

The latest CMS guidance on staff testing frequency are intended to test often enough to detect cases early enough to stop transmissions from staff to residents.  Clearly that hasn’t been enough.  We need more targeted testing to detect early cases, and that has to be done every time someone leaves and reenters the nursing home.  No effort should be spared in procuring what is needed to test everyone going into a nursing home, whether visitor or staff.

Key to making this work: the FDA should lift restrictions requiring all tests be reviewed at a lab, so rapid tests that don’t need lab equipment can truly live up to their promise.

We need to make sure that our members of Congress understand our determination to keep everyone healthy in those facilities, we mean business, and we need them to pay immediate attention.

On another note, prescription drug prices in the U.S. are sky high and rising.  The Federal Government is beginning to work on securing lower drug prices and trying to ensure that America will no longer pay more than our peer nations for expensive prescription drugs.  We must let the Administration and Congress know that this is a top-tier priority for all seniors and that they must work together to address this critical need.

Have a happy, healthy and safe holiday season and 2021!

Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

With the elections finally over, we will see what the future has in store for us.  (And be ever so glad all those political ads are done!)  But we’re not done.  Now we have new issues to look at and fight for, or against; with ongoing issues, such as this one:

AARP is asking us to help with the Stop Rx Greed Campaign:  U.S. Health & Human Service’s Final Importation Rule –This is a message for members of Congress and Senators:

•  There’s no reason why Americans should pay the highest drug prices in the world while drug companies rake in billions.

•  AARP has long supported the safe importation of prescription drugs, which could lower prices for many people over 50.

•  Importation of prescription drugs is overwhelmingly supported by Americans across party lines, with support from 81% of Republicans, 77% of Democrats, and 85% of independents.

•  The safe, legal importation of less expensive prescription drugs will help stop price gouging and lower costs. It will also help break up drug company monopolies by adding competitive pressure on drug makers to lower the prices they set in the U.S.

•  While there are still several stages before any importation can occur, we are pleased, that for the first time, an HHS Secretary has certified that importation can be done safely.

•  AARP strongly supported bipartisan legislation in Florida, Colorado, Maine, Vermont, New Mexico, and New Hampshire to allow importation in those states.  It is critical that the Administration works closely with those states to allow those laws to take effect and to ensure that the policy makes prescription drugs both affordable and accessible to older Americans.

In order to help, we can write our Representatives and Senators:

https://action.aarp.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=7577. The importation of prescription drugs is only good for certain drugs, not all, and definitely insulin, because it is a biologic drug. We also need to allow all states to participate in this, not just a few.  Go to

https://www.aarp.org/politics-society/advocacy/info-2020/canada-drug-importation-ruling.html to read more.

On other fronts:

The Supreme Court will be busy.  New Justice, Amy Coney Barrett, who was sworn in as a Justice last month, could play a pivotal role in any post-election legal fights, and will take part when the court hears a challenge to the Affordable Care Act a week after the election.

Coronavirus Update, as of October 29:  Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 8,865,697, U.S. death toll: 227,774

For context: Three months ago today, 4,363,511 Americans had tested positive for the coronavirus and 149,407 had died. Please stay safe, wear your mask, wash your hands, and keep a safe distance from everyone!

Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

With the last of the summer recess for Congress, and the Democratic and Republican conventions taking place, not a lot has happened, legislatively speaking.

But for those of us who are retired, or hoping to retire (soon), President Trump’s recent statements about eliminating Social Security’s current dedicated funding is cause for concern.  On August 8, 2020, President Trump said that he intended to “terminate the tax,” referring to Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes.  It’s a step that would, if taken in isolation, remove nearly 90% of funding for Social Security benefits, and thus likely pose a threat to the continued existence of those programs.

Because of coronavirus, the President had first wanted to defer the payroll taxes being taken out of workers’ paychecks, but he stated that, if elected, he would permanently cut the taxes by the end of the year.  A week later, President Trump finally suggested an alternate source, the general fund of government revenues, per Fox Business.

These sweeping statements come at a time when Americans 50+ are already on edge about their financial and retirement security.  We cannot cut Social Security funding without a strong plan in place, otherwise we endanger the benefits that Americans have paid into their whole lives.

We need to take action by writing or calling the President, asking him to explain his statements and let us know, exactly how this would work.  Copy the link below into a new browser window and email President Trump today.  Ask him to explain his recent statements about eliminating Social Security’s current dedicated funding.


Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

Flex those dialing and writing fingers!  We need to let our Federal Representatives (Lofgren, Khanna and Eshoo) as well as Senators (Feinstein and Harris) know that they need to address nursing homes issues now!

HR1425 – the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act passed the House and now moves into the Senate. Let Senators know they need to vote ‘Yes’ and support this bill. This bill provides funding for the Improve Health Insurance Affordability Fund.  States must use allocated funds to assist insurers or individuals with exceedingly high claims.

Our State Senators (Hill and Beall) also have their work cut out for them – and it’s our job to make sure they do theirs!  They, too, need to address nursing home issues. There are several nursing home related bills that we want them to support:

SB1207 — Nursing Home Resident Safety Act of 2020.

AB2377 — Adult Residential Facilities: Closures and Resident Transfers.

SB1383 – California Paid Family Leave – Job Protections.

AB3216 – California Paid Sick Leave – Public Health Emergency.

SB 1383 would allow employees who work for a company with five or more workers to be eligible for 12 weeks of job-protected leave. Currently, only companies with 50 or more employees are required to provide 12 weeks of leave to care for a family member.

AB 3216 would provide vital job protections for CA employees impacted by COVID-19 — specifically, by allowing workers to take extended job-protected leave to care for themselves or a family member affected by COVID-19, including a family member whose school or care facility is closed due to COVID-19; worker retention and recall rights for certain service employees; and additional paid sick leave during a state of emergency. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that the pandemic is “one big wave”, rather than a seasonal thing. So, once we get the vaccines, we should be good. The researchers are confident we will have a safe and effective vaccine; however, it will take time.  Some experts are predicting it may be next summer before we have a working vaccine.  So, keep safe, wear masks, keep your social distance, wash your hands frequently and get tested if you can. We may be here a while, waiting….

Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

Thirty-seven percent of the nation’s fatalities from Covid-19 occurred among residents and staff in long-term care facilities.  In 15 states, long-term care accounted for more than half of all Covid-19 deaths.  This has become a terrifying time for the 1.3 million Americans living in these facilities and their families.  Congress and the Administration must take urgent action to protect the health and safety of residents, staff and the surrounding community.  This is a matter of life and death.

This is why we need to contact our Federal Representatives:  Senators Feinstein and Harris, as well as Representatives Rho Khanna, Anna Eshoo, and Zoe Lofgren, to ask them support and vote in favor of the ACCESS ACT (HR 6487/S 3517).  This bill will allow the staff of nursing homes to have access to telehealth services and obtain technologies to allow virtual visits during the public health emergency relating to an outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), and for other purposes.

Also, the Nursing Home Covid-19 Protection & Prevention Act (HR 6972/S 3768), by our CA Representative Anna Eshoo, is important in that it provides better access for families and ensures better care for patients in nursing homes.  Please thank Rep. Eshoo for her leadership and offer your support.  Please also call your Member of Congress (if it is not Rep. Eshoo) to urge their support, along with Senators Feinstein and Harris.

There are now 12 Covid-19 symptoms to watch out for (the list grows):  fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, (new) loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.

President Trump will continue to support Covid-19 testing sites.  Many states have decided to “pause” their reopening plans in light of the spikes in coronavirus cases.  And Texas has become the new epicenter for Covid-19.  So, stay healthy; wear your mask!

Legislative News … Daniel Nnorth and Claudia Schott

Nursing homes continue to be a hotbed for the COVID-19 infection.  AARP members are being asked to contact their Federal Representatives, State Senators, & State Assembly Members to Implement a 3-point plan to improve conditions in America’s Long-Term Care Facilities, which must

(1)  Have the personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing they need to identify cases and prevent the spread of the virus, as well as adequate staffing to provide care.

(2)  Be transparent by reporting publicly on a daily basis whether they have confirmed COVID-19 cases; and provide residents and families information when loved ones are discharged or transferred out of their room or facility.

(3)  Make available and facilitate virtual visitation as a safety measure between residents and their families.

We also need to urge our State Representatives to support the Governor’s Paid Family Leave Budget Trailer bill language:  AARP is fighting to improve paid leave policies for California workers who must care for adult loved ones, some of whom have been impacted by COVID-19.

  • Paid family leave with job protections must be available to all California workers.
  • Family caregivers are on the front lines battling to keep their loved ones out of hospitals or nursing homes.
  • Family caregivers help older loved ones with medications and medical care, bathing and dressing, meals, chores and much more.
  • Across California, more than 4.7 million family caregivers provide critical assistance to help their older parents, spouses, and other loved ones remain living in their homes — most while also working full- or part-time.  They contribute more than 4 billion hours of unpaid care each year, valued at approximately $63 billion.

And last, but not least, we need to tell our State Assembly Members and State Senators to OPPOSE the harmful cuts to programs serving older Californians in the state budget. This is the wrong approach to take at a time when older Californians are contracting and dying from COVID-19 at higher rates than the rest of the population.

Meanwhile, we are getting closer every day to a vaccine for COVID-19.  Please, please, DO NOT use hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus – studies have shown it to cause serious side effects, including death.