Monday, March 22, 2010

The Benefits of Health Care Reform

Many folks have asked, "What, exactly, will health reform mean to me?" Below is a list of some of the many benefits available to children, youth, families, and older adults through health care reform. If you would like more detailed information on everything in the legislation, visit the Washington Post, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

Benefits for Children, Youth, and Families*

· Guarantee access to health coverage for 95% of all children
· Prevent insurance companies from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions or annual or lifetime limits (eliminating pre-existing conditions for children will take effect immediately)
· Children now covered in parent’s plan till age 26
· Expansion of CHIP for children aging out of foster care
· Medicaid expansion up to 133% of poverty
· Medicaid reimbursement rate raised for states
· Maintain the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) until it is determined whether the new “health insurance exchanges” are safe for children and provide them benefits and cost protections comparable to or better than they have now
· Fund CHIP through 2015 – doubling the number of eligible CHIP children that can be served from 7 to 14 million
· Extend coverage for youths in foster care to age 26.

Benefits for Seniors*

· Encourage states to develop more choices of long-term care services, to enable older people to live in their own homes instead of more expensive nursing homes.
· New regulations on insurance companies would bar them from dropping the coverage of people who get sick, and from putting lifetime caps on coverage. Starting in six months insurance companies could not discriminate against children with preexisting conditions; by 2014 all ages would receive that protection.
· Those in Medicare Part D who fall into the “doughnut hole,” and have to pay all their prescription drug costs for part of the year, would get immediate help this year from a $250 rebate. Next year they would get a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs, and by 2020 the doughnut hole would be closed completely.
· Medicare would cover preventive services with no copayments, and those costs would not apply to the deductible.
· A new insurance exchange would help people who don’t have affordable insurance through their jobs. Until the exchange is set up, employers who give health care benefits for retirees ages 55 to 64 would get federal aid through a temporary reinsurance program.
· A new long-term care insurance program, which workers could pay into, would help them if they become ill or disabled and need help with basic services in order to stay in their homes.
· The Senate bill would strengthen Medicare by requiring insurance companies to competitively bid to offer private Medicare Advantage plans, a move that is estimated to save $118 billion from 2010 to 2019. Currently Medicare beneficiaries are subsidizing enrollees in these plans, which cost an average of 14 percent more than traditional Medicare.

* Benefits assume enactment of Reconciliation Patch (the Senate is expected to pass the patch later this week).

Sources (,

House Passes Historic Health Care Reform Bill; Awaits President's Signature

Last night, the House of Representatives passed a historic reform of our nation’s health care system. The vote is victory for persons of all ages. The new law will extend coverage to millions of children and older adults, while helping seniors afford their prescription drugs and grant children more access to pediatricians. Grandparents raising millions of grandchildren will no longer face the prospect of having to choose between healthcare and potential bankruptcy. It will also help curb the rising costs of our health care system that threaten our nation’s finances.

Thank you to everyone that made calls and wrote letters. You can visit and for continued updates on the legislation's impact on your family and constituents as well as information on how you can continue to communicate with your legislators. These reforms are long overdue, but are welcomed warmly!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Arizona Becomes the First State to Drop Children's Health Insurance Program

In times of economic downturn, children and seniors are most vulnerable.

On March 18th, faced with a $2.6 billion projected shortfall next year, Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona signed a budget that will leave 47,000 low-income children without health insurance, reported the New York Times.

Additionally, according to the William E. Morris Institute for Justice, based in Phoenix, Governor Brewer and the State legislature are considering reducing the TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) grant from 60 to 36 months and restricting the program so that only a few families who take in their relative children will qualify for a TANF grant.

According to the Institute, "Only about 40% of unemployed persons are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits in Arizona. In these times of high unemployment and few jobs, TANF is truly the program of last resort. Children are helpless victims of the recession. Without TANF, these families will have no money to buy clothing, maintain stable housing or provide for their children’s basic needs... If enacted, this program will leave thousands of [Arizona's] poorest children with no support."

Arizona's budget cuts illuminate why it is critical for Congress to pass health care reform. Without health reform, more states will follow Arizona's lead and more children and families will be in danger. Until then, Generations United urges state legislators to continue to preserve CHIP and TANF funding. Even in times like this, a state's budget is inherently a moral document, as it communicates the state's priorities. Children, families, and older adults need our support and investment.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Policy Alert: President Obama to Speak on Health Care Reform at George Mason University

This Friday, March 19, 2010, President Obama will speak on the urgent need for health care reform in Fairfax, Virginia at George Mason University’s Patriot Center. Doors open at 9:00AM EST and the event kicks off at 11:30AM. This event is free and open to the public and doors open at 9 AM. No tickets are required for this event. Please arrive early to ensure admittance.

If you plan to attend, please email with the subject “Health Care RSVP” and include the number of attendees.

The George Mason University Patriot Center
4500 Patriot Circle
Fairfax, VA 22030

Further information is available at

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Letter on the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility

Below is a letter from Donna to President Obama, Congressional Leaders, and Co-Chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility.

March 12, 2010

Dear Mr. President, Congressional Leaders, and Commission Co-Chairs:

Generations United, the national membership organization focused solely on improving the lives of children, youth, and older adults through intergenerational solutions and policies, asks the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility to refrain from using the commission to fuel a false sense of competition between the generations. Generations United shares the commission’s aim of reducing the federal debt and balancing the budget, but believes those goals must not come at the expense of unraveling federal investments and supports for the young and the old.

Some vocal commentators assert that it is necessary to cut vital programs like Social Security and Medicaid for the future of our children and our grandchildren. These arguments presuppose that these programs do not benefit children. Generations United urges the commission to use its important role in educating the public to explain the key role Social Security plays in lifting millions of children out of poverty – paying more benefits to children than any other federal program. Generations United questions how our children will benefit from fewer investments as they age and pass through our schools, job market, and into retirement. The best gift we can give our children and grandchildren is a nation with a strong safety net that supports people of all ages.

The best way for the commission to prevent intergenerational conflict is to ensure an open and transparent process. An open process will allow Americans to become more familiar and informed on any potential recommendations from the commission. Individuals and organizations representing a broad segment of society should be offered the opportunity to comment publicly on the available policy options open to the commission.

Please do not hesitate to contact us in the future; we look forward to being a resource to the commission.


Donna M. Butts

Executive Director

Monday, March 08, 2010

From Donna Butts: Help for children here and abroad

The children of Haiti are the most visible, most raw symbols of that earthquake-ravaged country’s persistent needs. Their stories of injury and loss continue to haunt us long after the news segments fade. Their anguished faces remind us that the devastation we view from the comfort of our homes is a daily reality for them.

Understandably, many well-intentioned Americans have been moved to open their homes as well as their hearts to Haitian children. Agencies are overwhelmed by requests from families who want to end the suffering they see on their television screens. Church groups are holding seminars. Nonprofits are raising money for rescue missions. Pending legislation in Washington D.C. seeks to bring Haitian children to the U.S., placing them in foster care before matching them with parents.

Philanthropists, politicians, and pundits have been weighing in on whether adoption is the appropriate response to this crisis. In the midst of news that has become an international controversy, however, lies a larger truth. All children deserve a permanent, loving home with a family that will protect, nurture and guide them.

Natural disasters dramatically threaten the survival of families and children. So, too, can the challenges of life here at home. The scenes of loss and terror, the long and laborious journey to stability, play out not only in Port-Au-Prince, but in neighborhoods, towns, and cities across America.

Even as our nation’s attention is focused on the plight of Haitian children, we must keep in mind the critical importance of strengthening the safety net we have established for children in our own country who have experienced abuse or neglect.

More than half a million children across the U.S. are currently living in foster care. Although foster care is intended to be a temporary refuge until families can put their lives back on track, children spend more than two years, on average, in the foster care system. Each year, thousands of youth turn 18 and “age out” of foster care with no permanent family to rely upon.

Adoption is one of several options for children in foster care who cannot safely remain at home. Legal guardianship by a relative is another. Almost a fourth of children in foster care live with grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other relatives. Foster children who have been placed with relatives are more likely to live with their brothers and sisters; stay connected to their communities, culture, and heritage; and less likely to change schools. All of these are factors that lead to a healthy, productive adulthood.

Today, in state capitals across the nation, lawmakers are crafting strategies to protect vulnerable children and strengthen support for families by implementing the federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Act of 2008. The Fostering Connections legislation aims to increase the number children exiting foster care with safe, permanent, loving families through adoptions and guardianships with relatives. You age out of a system, but you can’t age out of a family.

Fostering Connections is a vital, and urgently-needed, step forward to benefit children and families. We must show our state lawmakers that the passion we have for the people of Haiti – evidenced in the millions of dollars given in personal and corporate checks, government commitments, and offering plates – is matched by the passion we have for children in the U.S.

Our determination to protect and provide for Haiti’s children is a shining example of the human spirit. Let us harness that energy to protect children in need on American shores, as well.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Statement from Donna Butts on Health Care Reform

Following President Obama's remarks on Wednesday, March 3, Generations United Executive Director Donna Butts issued the following statement, urging members of Congress to continue their efforts to extend healthcare to our nation's most vulnerable citizens.

"Our nation cannot continue to allow millions of Americans from all generations to go without access to high-quality affordable health care. Nothing is more important for the long-term success of our children, families, and older adults than Congress finishing healthcare reform.

Generations United welcomes the president's proposal to help more people access care through the Medicaid program. By increasing the Medicaid reimbursement rate, more children and seniors will be able to find a doctor or hospital willing to extend care to them.

In his call to action, the president recognized children, young adults, and older adults still face an insurance market that can refuse to cover them because of a preexisting condition, or bankrupt them because of inadequate coverage. Our nation's seniors are still without a long-term-care insurance program and our children still need access to preventive care. We applaud this important effort today. While not perfect, this bill makes important strides in addressing an issue that touches all generations."

E-mail for more information.

Kentucky Seniors4Kids are featured in this "Blueprint for Kentucky's Children" video by Kentucky Youth Advocates! At 6:10, this video highlighting solutions for improving child well-being in Kentucky shows Seniors4Kids advocates Mary Musgrave, Pat Murrell and Major General James B. Baylor speaking up for the importance of quality pre-k.