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Affiliated with the Rhode Island AFL-CIO “Fighting for the future of our members.” “NOW, more than ever!!!” Publication 2018 Issue 21 Published in house by the RI ARA

May 27, 2018 E-Newsletter

All Rights Reserved RI ARA 2018©

How Using The Chained CPI To Calculate COLAs Would Affect Your Benefits The newly enacted tax legislation calls for adjusting tax brackets and the standard deduction using the more slowly growing Chained consumer price index (CPI). What would switching to the new index for calculating Social Security benefits mean for retired and disabled beneficiaries? A new study released by The Senior Citizens League finds that the Chained CPI promises the worst of all worlds for tens of millions retirees and disabled Americans, lower benefits and higher taxes. The study found that had the government adopted the chained CPI to calculate COLAS since it first was launched in 2001, Social

Security benefits would be about 5 percent lower today for people who have been retired since that date. Average benefits would be about $57 per month lower and total benefit income would be about $6,148 lower over the 17 year period. Even worse, if Congress were to adopt the chained CPI to calculate the COLA starting in 2017 (which it has NOT yet done), average benefits would be about $174 a month lower at the end of a typical 30-year retirement period, the report says. The CPI is used not only to adjust Social Security benefits for inflation, but also the benefits of many other federal programs, including military and federal worker retirement programs. It’s also used to set the income thresholds that determine

eligibility for safety net programs that include food stamps, Medicare Savings Programs and Medicaid. If income thresholds grow more slowly, fewer low-income people would qualify for benefits in future years. The new tax legislation mandates using the chained CPI to adjust the tax code, including tax brackets and the standard deduction. That means the standard deduction will become less generous in coming years, and this would subject a greater portion of taxpayers’ income to taxation. With deficits rising rapidly since the enactment of tax legislation, switching to the chained CPI to index Social Security is once again a key option that lawmakers are eyeing

to reduce the federal deficit. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that using the chained CPI to index Social Security and other federal programs would reduce federal spending by $182 billion through 2026. It would also increase the amount people pay in taxes as tax brackets and the standard deduction grow more slowly in coming years. The Senior Citizens League is opposed to the adoption of the chained CPI and supports using the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E) to index Social Security benefits for inflation, as well as the enactment of a minimum COLA guarantee. What do you think of the proposal to “Chain the COLA?” To take a survey about Social Security and Medicare proposals, visit

Vermont Legislators Pass A Drug Importation Law. So What? This week, Vermont passed a first-in-the-nation law that would facilitate the state’s importation of prescription drugs wholesale from Canada. It represents the state’s effort to tackle head-on the issue of constantly climbing drug prices. Other states, including Louisiana and Utah, have debated similar legislation and are watching Vermont’s progress closely. After all, the issue of drug importation polls well across the political spectrum and has been endorsed by politicians ranging from candidate Donald Trump, before he became president, to liberal firebrand Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). So how much impact might a

state law like this actually have? Trump has since stepped back from his campaign position, and the White House did not include drug importation in its proposal last week to bring down drug prices. And cautions abound that importation may not actually save that much money as questions swirl about whether the policy undermines drug safety standards. Kaiser Health News breaks down the challenges that lie ahead for importation champions, and what it shows about the future of the drug pricing fight. States need federal approval to launch any kind of importation program.

Just having a law like Vermont’s on the books is not enough to legalize importation. The next step is for the state to craft a proposal outlining how its initiative would save money without jeopardizing public health. The proposal, in turn, is then subject to approval by the federal Department of Health and Human Services. HHS has had yea-or-nay power over state importation programs since at least 2003, because of a provision included in the law creating Medicare Part D. But it’s never actually approved such a plan. And — despite mounting political pressure — there’s little reason to think it will do so now. In the past weeks, HHS

Secretary Alex Azar has come out strongly against importation, calling it a “gimmick” that wouldn’t meaningfully bring down prices. He also has argued that the U.S. government cannot adequately certify the safety of imported drugs. HHS declined to comment beyond Azar’s public remarks. Importation backers — including the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP), which helped craft Vermont’s bill and has worked with state lawmakers — hope he’ll reverse these positions. But few are optimistic that this will happen. …..Read More

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FDA names drugmakers accused of blocking cheaper generics U.S. drug regulators are publicizing information on brand-name drugmakers that use what government officials call "gaming tactics" to block cheaper copycat versions. The Food and Drug Administration's new webpage names the makers of more than 50 brand-name drugs, many carrying five- or six-figure annual price tags, who are under scrutiny. The agency also lists inquiries it has received from generic drugmakers requesting FDA's help in getting access to the brand-name drugs though not all the complaints have been verified. Generic drug companies generally require 1,000 to 1,500 units, such as pills, of a brand-name drug to create much-cheaper drugs with identical active ingredients and effects. The FDA said Thursday

that brand-name drugmakers sometimes refuse to sell generic companies drugs that may need extra safety monitoring or bar drug wholesalers from selling other medicines to generic drugmakers. "We hope that this increased transparency will help reduce unnecessary hurdles to generic drug development and approval," the FDA said in a statement. Delayed launches of generic versions of drugs whose patents have expired usually push higher costs onto patients, employers and taxpayers. One drugmaker strategy — a limited distribution network in which the company only provides its medicine to one or two wholesalers or pharmacies instead of many distributors — enables the maker to better control and raise prices. That's how former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli was able to hike the

price of a 60-year-old antiinfective drug, Daraprim, from $13.50 to $750 per pill. Several of the world's largest drugmakers were cited by FDA as having refused to sell more than one medicine to generic companies, often drugs long on the market that generate billions in annual sales. Those include Switzerland's Novartis AG, cited for blocking access to four medicines, and Summit, New Jersey-based Celgene Corp., cited for blocking access to three drugs. Many of the drugs are for various cancers, HIV and heart disease… Novartis said in a statement that it "disagrees with the inclusion of our products on the list." The company said its drugs on the list have a generic version under FDA review. Celgene said generic versions of some of its drugs will reach the market "in coming years."

But the drugmaker said there needs to be a better process to ensure the safety of generic versions on the market since its three drugs on the list carries serious risks including birth defects. Celgene is accused of using a second strategy for blocking generics that FDA also is targeting. It involves riskierthan-average drugs that fall under an FDA program intended to limit use to patients most likely to benefit, who are urged to take precautions such as preventing pregnancy. The FDA said in some cases brand-name companies have improperly used that as a reason to refuse to sell samples to generic drugmakers. That tactic costs patients, insurers and government programs more than $6 billion annually, according to a trade group for generic drugmakers..Read More

Trump Administration Unveils Drug Pricing Strategy On Friday, President Trump and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Azar outlined the Administration’s strategy to reduce drug prices. The Administration further described the plan, “American Patients First,” in a blueprint document also unveiled Friday. The much-anticipated plan is a mix of existing policies laid out in the Administration’s 2019 budget request, as well as some new ideas designed to drive down drug prices and lower costs. Though neither the speech nor the blueprint offers much detail about the Administration’s next steps, there are several aspects of the plan that could significantly impact people with Medicare. This includes potential changes to how certain drugs are covered by Medicare, as well as proposals to reconsider the obligations of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), and arrangements between Part D

plans and drug manufacturers. In response to Friday’s speech and blueprint release, Medicare Rights President Joe Baker said in a statement, “Ever y day, through our National Consumer Helpline, we hear from older adults and people with disabilities who are struggling to cover their drug costs. This is not surprising, given that nearly half of all Medicare beneficiaries live on annual incomes of $26,200 or less, and one quarter live on $15,250 or less. Most people with Medicare simply cannot afford to pay more for health care. Accordingly, any forthcoming efforts to implement the Administration’s strategy must make prescription drugs more affordable, without otherwise increasing costs or reducing access to care for people with Medicare.” On Monday, HHS released a Request for Information (RFI) to formally gather information about its drug

pricing plan. The RFI largely mirrors the previously released blueprint document, and provides the public with an opportunity to help shape future policy development and agency action. In particular, the Administration is seeking input on four key aspects of its strategy, including:  Opportunities to increase competition and obtain affordable prices on prescription drugs in Medicaid and other HHSadministered programs, as well as through changes to FDA policies;  Mechanisms to support better negotiation in Medicare and Medicaid, in part by emphasizing price transparency, reconsidering value-based pricing arrangements, and exploring alternative financing models;  Ways to incentivize lower list prices, such as by

reducing the impact of rebates in contracts between Part D plans and drug manufacturers and at the point of sale; and  Efforts to reduce out-ofpocket spending, including by providing more information to people with Medicare about lower-cost alternatives. While it is not yet clear how these broad goals will translate into actionable policy proposals, Medicare Rights supports efforts to improve the affordability of prescription drugs for people with Medicare. We look forward to reviewing the details of the Administration’s strategy and to working with policymakers to pursue meaningful solutions that lower costs for people with Medicare. Read our statement.

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New Drug Spending Tool May be Helpful for Researchers and Policymakers— Not Much Help for Consumers This week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released new data and a new tool on prescription medication: the Drug Spending Dashboard. The Dashboar d allows users to see list prices of various medications, how many manufacturers supply the drug, what they have been paid by Medicare—both Part B and Part D—and Medicaid, total and per beneficiary spending on the drug, and comparisons of spending from 2015 to 2016. Such data show trends in both drug pricing and program spending, and CMS offers additional data for use outside of the Dashboard. The Administration’s recent

focus on drug pricing is bringing attention to this important issue, and to tools and data that may help address the high cost of prescription drugs. However, while the Dashboard provides insights into drug pricing and the effects on the Medicare and Medicaid programs, it may be more helpful to researchers and policymakers than to people with Medicare. The prices the Dashboard shows are the “list prices,” which are the prices drug manufacturers request prior to any rebates or negotiations; they are not the prices people with Medicare actually pay. The

Dashboard does not show the consumer prices or indicate which plans will cover which drugs on their formularies. This information is important from a beneficiary perspective because it gets at the actual costs they will face when they pick up their medications at the pharmacy. The Dashboard is also limited in that it does not capture and show how much each Medicare beneficiary will ultimately pay for each drug. Such costs are difficult to estimate, as they are dependent on a number of highly specific, individualized factors, including the beneficiary’s

prescription drug needs and their plan’s deductible and formulary tiering. However, the lack of this information makes the tool of very limited use for consumers. At Medicare Rights, we welcome a focus on transparency in the Medicare program and see the Dashboard as a step in the right direction for future actions that will reduce drug costs and increase the affordability of prescriptions for all. While the Dashboard tool cannot show which drugs are the best value, people with Medicare and others may find the information interesting and informative. Access the Drug Spending Dashboard.

Beneficiary Advocates Urge Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to Correct Inaccuracies in Medicare & You Handbook for 2019 This week, the Medicare Rights Center, the Center for Medicare Advocacy, and Justice in Aging sent a joint letter to Seema Verma, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), on May 15, 2018, objecting to serious inaccuracies in the draft Medicare & You Handbook for 2019, and urging CMS to rectify the errors prior to disseminating the Medicare & You Handbook. Medicare & You is the official government publication designed to provide beneficiaries with factual information about the Medicare program, their choices for obtaining coverage, and the benefits they can expect. Unfortunately, the draft 2019 Handbook includes inaccurate descriptions of the differences between Original Medicare and private Medicare Advantage plans. Without fair and accurate information, older adults, people with disabilities and their families cannot make informed choices about their health care coverage. The letter to Ms. Verma voiced the three organizations’ concerns that the draft 2019 Handbook

distorts and mischaracterizes essential facts on which beneficiaries rely to make decisions about their coverage. First, it does not adequately inform beneficiaries of the significant limitations on choices of health care providers if they choose a Medicare Advantage plan rather than Original Medicare. In addition, it presents prior authorization in Medicare Advantage plans as a “right” that is not available in Original Medicare, rather than acknowledging that it is a requirement, an extra step mandated for Medicare Advantage members before they are permitted to access care. Further, the draft 2019 Handbook inaccurately implies that Medicare Advantage is the less expensive option for all beneficiaries. This sweeping generalization ignores the many variables that people with Medicare must consider in evaluating and selecting coverage that is most affordable and best suited for their needs. In a written statement,

Medicare Rights President Joe Baker stated, “From the Medicare Rights Center’s experience assisting people with Medicare and their families, we know how challenging it can be for beneficiaries to make the best coverage decision for their unique circumstances. The Medicare & You Handbook must support this decision-making process by accurately describing the rules, restrictions, and benefits of both Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage. Regardless of the coverage they ultimately select, all people with Medicare deserve the opportunity to make an informed choice. We commend CMS for incorporating many of the language changes we suggested in prior years, and urge the agency to address our concerns with the draft 2019 Handbook prior to its publication.” Also in the statement, Medicare Rights’ partners at the Center for Medicare Advocacy and Justice in Aging said the following:

Judith Stein, executive director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy, noted, “These can literally be life and death decisions. CMS has a duty to provide complete, unbiased information to help beneficiaries make the best choice for their Medicare coverage. Regrettably, the current version of Medicare & You does not fully and fairly inform people of the pros and cons of Original Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage. The draft Handbook needs to be corrected before it is published and sent to beneficiaries.” Kevin Prindiville, Executive Director of Justice in Aging stated: “Several proposed changes in the Handbook distort basic facts about how Medicare Advantage and Original Medicare work. People with Medicare rely on Medicare & You for accurate and objective information. If these changes were adopted, beneficiaries would not have the information they need to make fully informed decisions about their Medicare coverage.” Read the letter here.

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'CEOs don't want this released': US study lays bare extreme pay-ratio problem The first comprehensive study of CEO-to-worker pay reveals an extraordinary disparity – with the highest gap approaching 5,000 to 1 The first comprehensive study of the massive pay gap between the US executive suite and average workers has found that the average CEO-to-worker pay ratio has now reached 339 to 1, with the highest gap approaching 5,000 to 1. The study, titled Rewarding Or Hoarding?, was published on Wednesday by Minnesota’s Democratic US congressman Keith Ellison, and includes data on almost 14 million workers at 225 US companies with total annual revenues of $6.3tn. Just the makes for sober reading. In 188 of the 225 companies in the report’s database, a single chief executive’s pay could be used to pay more than 100 workers; the average worker at 219 of the 225 companies studied would need to work at least 45 years to earn what their

CEO makes in one. It also shows how some of the most extreme disparities in CEO-to-worker pay exist in industries that are considered consumer discretionary, such as fast food and retail, with a 977 to 1 disparity, one of the widest gaps. “Now we know why CEOs didn’t want this data released,” says Ellison, who championed the implementation of the pay ratio disclosure rule as it was written into the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill of 2010. “I knew inequality was a great problem in our society but I didn’t understand quite how extreme it was.” The requirements, long resisted by some of the largest US companies, simply tells companies to identify a median worker and then calculate how much the CEO makes in comparison to that person. But the requirement triggered

years of prevarication as companies claimed the method of calculating CEO compensation and median employee compensation had not been well defined. Some claimed that including workers employed abroad, especially in developing countries, would make pay ratio data even more extreme than it would be if calculated only within the US. “If wealth is being concentrated into fewer and fewer hands, then obviously wealth is being dissipated from more and more people,” Ellison said. “We have people who are paying more half their income in rent, and we have whole school districts where poverty is erasing any opportunity for Americans to climb that ladder.” Ellison rejected claims from corporate America that executive suite compensation is a just reward for the skillful

exercising of their business talents. “Truth is, they’re doing nothing except extracting value and wealth from hard working people because they have economic advantages.” “With all this extra money they have, it corrupts our politics absolutely,” he continues. “It concentrates markets and makes them less competitive.” Ellison has become a frequent target for criticism from the Trump administration, including from the president himself….Read More Shared from Steve Murphy, Business Agent, RI IBEW 2323. This is being shared to show how corporations can pay executives exorbitant compensation, while holding back increases, health care and pension for employees. They seem to forget, without employees, they have no corporations, therefore, no executive salaries.

Post office blames US government – not Amazon – for billion-dollar loss The U.S. Postal Service placed most of the blame for the $1.3 billion it lost in its second fiscal quarter on “inflexible” government policy, and some of it on inflation and a decline in first-class mail, but it did not blame any of it on delivery deals made with customers, including, notably, Inc. The net loss for the quarter ended March 31 widened from $562 million in the same period a year ago. The “controllable” loss, which excludes items that are not recurring and outside of management’s control, was $656 million, after a profit of $12 million last year. Total revenue rose 1.4% to $17.50 billion, as 9.5% growth in shipping and package revenue and a 15% rise in international revenue helped offset a 2.5%

drop in firstclass mail and a 0.4% decline in marketing mail. First-classmail revenue of $6.46 billion represented 36.9% of total revenue, down from 38.3% last year, while the percentage of shipping and package revenue increased to 29.4% from 27.3%. USPS called the controllable loss primarily a result of a $236 million increase in retiree health-benefits costs because of changes in actuarial assumptions and a $364 million rise in compensation expenses to support its “labor-intensive package business” and contractual wage adjustments. Higher fuel costs and highway-

contract-route inflation lifted transportation expenses by $155 million. In addition to controllable expenses, unfunded retiree benefits and retiree health benefits jumped $766 million because of changes in actuarial assumptions, while workercompensation expenses declined $658 million because of changes in interest rates. USPS said it would take “urgently needed legislative and regulatory changes,” as well as continued management actions, to return to financial stability. “Despite growth in our package business, our financial results reflect systemic trends in the marketplace and the effects

of an inflexible, legislatively mandated business model that limits our ability to generate sufficient revenue and imposes costs upon us that we cannot afford,” said Postmaster General Megan Brennan. That seems to differ from comments made by President Donald Trump last month. Tr ump said the USPS was losing “billions of dollars” because of a “Delivery Boy” deal with Amazon, under which, he said, the post office lost an average of $1.50 on each package delivered for the ecommerce giant. At that time, the post office told MarketWatch it had no comment on the matter. control our costs, the Postal Service can return to financial sustainability.”...Read More

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Medicare Quality of Care INTRODUCTION: WHAT DO WE MEAN BY QUALITY OF CARE? Quality of care is becoming an increasingly important topic of discussion for researchers and policy advocates. However, its importance as an advocacy tool for obtaining and maintaining services is often less obvious. Such issues are integral to understanding who receives care, the promptness and appropriateness of care, and to understanding systemically the reasons why quality and access problems occur. A focus on quality allows beneficiaries and their advocates to participate in the development of appropriate monitoring and enforcement of quality standards. The Center for Medicare Advocacy focuses on quality not only to raise general consumer awareness of this important topic, but to highlight the use of this growing body of knowledge by advocates to secure and expand services. Racial and ethnic minority

received in recent years. Though researchers and survey organizations have focused on safety and quality through public campaigns and quality populations and the larger discriminatory, providing the measurement and reporting, disabled community should pay same quality of service largely of a voluntary nature, particular attention to these regardless of race, ethnicity, age, little has been done with this issues because these groups tend sex or health status. information to make changes to be less supported by the that would improve quality. Quality of Care: health care community. Everyone, nonetheless, has the Issues and Concerns The U.S. Institute of In November 1999, the right to receive in a timely Medicine (IOM) defines Institute of Medicine published manner care that meets the ‘quality' as: the degree to which "To Err is Human," a highest standards for quality health services for individuals groundbreaking study of the health care. It is important that and populations increase the U.S. health care system. Their consumers and advocates likelihood of desired health findings indicated that at least understand the right to high outcomes and are consistent with 44,000 people, and perhaps as quality care, and move to assure current professional many as 98,000 people, die in that quality care becomes knowledge. What this really hospitals each year as a result of universal. The task becomes one means is that each individual medical errors that could have of working to translate written consumer should receive the best been prevented. (Institute of standards into practiced norms possible health care available Medicine 1999) Since that time, of treatment and care, including every time services are needed. multiple studies have been establishing an environment or Health care providers should conducted on various issues and "culture" that promotes patient provide care that meets the needs results have repeatedly safety and care of the highest of each individual patient, substantiated the IOM's claims. quality….Read More including the use of appropriate Quality of care remains an advances in medical technology. area for improvement, despite health care should also be non- the increased attention it has

Center for Medicare Advocacy Self Help Materials Click on the links below for more information on each subject Comprehensive Toolkits  Toolkit: Medicare Home Health Coverage and Jimmo v. Sebelius  Toolkit: Medicare Outpatient Therapy Coverage and Jimmo v. Sebelius  Toolkit: Medicare Skilled Nursing Facility Coverage and Jimmo v. Sebelius

Self-Help Materials to Appeal your Medicare Denial      

Self-Help Packet for Ambulance Appeals Self-Help Packet for Medicare “Observation Status” Self-Help Packet for Outpatient Therapy Denials Including “Improvement Standard” Denials Self-Help Packet for Home Health Care Appeals Including “Improvement Standard” Denials Self-Help Packet for Hospital Discharge Self-Help Packet for Skilled Nursing Facility Appeals Including “Improvement Standard” Denials

Other Advocacy Tips  Advocacy Tips: Medicare Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearing Process  Expedited v. Standard Medicare Appeals: Not Knowing the Difference Could Cost You Your Appeal Rights!  Choosing Between Traditional Medicare and a Medicare Advantage Plan Rhode Island Alliance for Retired Americans, Inc. • 94 Cleveland Street • North Providence, RI • 02904-3525 • 401-480-8381 •

Depression and Older Adults Depression is more than just feeling sad or blue. It is a common but serious mood disorder that needs treatment. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, and working. When you have depression, you have trouble with daily life for weeks at a time. Doctors call this condition “depressive disorder” or “clinical depression.” Depression is a real illness. It is not a sign of a person’s weakness or a character flaw. You can’t “snap out of” clinical depression. Most people who experience depression need treatment to get better. Depression Is Not a Normal Part of Aging Depression is a common problem among older adults, but it is NOT a normal part of aging. In fact, studies show that most older adults feel satisfied with their lives, despite having more illnesses or physical problems.

or cancer, which may cause depressive symptoms. Or they may be taking medications with side effects that contribute to depression. Causes and Risk Factors for Depression Several factors, or a combination of factors, may contribute to depression.  Genes—People with a family history of depression may be depression, sadness is not their more likely to develop it than main symptom. They may have those whose families do not other, less obvious symptoms of have the illness. depression, or they may not be  Personal history—Older willing to talk about their adults who had depression feelings. Therefore, doctors may when they were younger are be less likely to recognize that more at risk for developing their patient has depression. depression in late life than Sometimes older people who those who did not have the are depressed appear to feel illness earlier in life. tired, have trouble sleeping, or  Brain chemistry—People seem grumpy and irritable. with depression may have Confusion or attention problems different brain chemistry than caused by depression can those without the illness. sometimes look  Stress—Loss of a loved one, a like Alzheimer’s disease or difficult relationship, or any other brain disorders. Older stressful situation may trigger adults also may have more depression….Read More medical conditions, such as heart disease, stroke,

Get Immediate Help If you are thinking about harming yourself, tell someone who can help immediately.  Do not isolate yourself.  Call your doctor.  Call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room to get immediate help, or ask a friend or family member to help you. Call the toll-free, 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or 1-800-7994TTY (1-800-799-4889). However, important life changes that happen as we get older may cause feelings of uneasiness, stress, and sadness. For instance, the death of a loved one, moving fr om wor k into retirement, or dealing with a serious illness can leave people feeling sad or anxious. After a period of adjustment, many older adults can regain their emotional balance, but others do not and may develop depression. Recognizing Symptoms of Depression in Older Adults Depression in older adults may be difficult to recognize because they may show different symptoms than younger people. For some older adults with

Even at 'Safe' Levels, Air Pollution Puts Seniors at Risk For older people, breathing in dirty air puts them at risk of being hospitalized with a dangerous respiratory disease, a new study suggests. Among U.S. seniors, hospital admissions for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) rose as levels of both ozone and fine particulate matter increased -even when the pollutants were within levels now considered safe, the researchers said in a news release from the American Thoracic Society. "While there is growing evidence of the impact on lung health of numerous air pollutants, there have been few studies that have looked at acute respiratory diseases and air pollution across large populations," said lead author Jongeun Rhee. She is an

epidemiologist at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. Rhee and her colleagues analyzed data from nearly 30 million Medicare beneficiaries who were discharged from U.S. hospitals from 2000 through 2012. Using ZIP codes, the investigators were able to calculate seniors' annual exposure to fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, in the air as well as to ozone from April through September. The researchers also developed models that allowed them to link pollution levels with hospitalizations due to ARDS. They found a significant link between changes in levels of fine particulate matter and ARDS admission rates among older people.

While the study found a connection between pollution and hospitalization for ARDS, it didn't prove a link. ARDS is a progressive, often fatal, disease that causes fluid to leak into the lungs, making breathing difficult or impossible, the study authors explained. Older people and those with serious health issues -- such as sepsis, pneumonia or traumatic injury -- are at greater risk. "We highlighted the importance of air pollution as an environmental risk factor for ARDS, which has not been studied widely but contributed to a previous finding that was limited to ozone," Rhee said in the news release. The study also found that ARDS admissions increased even when older people were

exposed to pollution levels that were within National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The study's senior author, Dr. David Christiani, is a professor of environmental genetics at T.H. Chan School of Public Health….Read More More information The U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has more about the health effects of air pollution. Note: EPA Director. Scott Pruitt & Trump want to relax regulations because they hurt corporations.

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RI ARA May 27, 2018 E-Newsletter


RI ARA May 27, 2018 E-Newsletter

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