Posts Tagged ‘minority group’

Minority Elderly Poorer Than Popularly Believed

SEPTEMBER 18, 1995 VOLUME 3, NUMBER 12

Although most people believe that today’s generation of elderly Americans is relatively wealthy, a recent survey suggests that the perception is misplaced. Data released by the Rand Corporation, an independent California research group, shows that many of the elderly have retired into financial insecurity. Furthermore, the study reveals that those scheduled to retire in the next ten years are equally at risk.

More startling even than the information about the entire elderly population is the disparity the study found between minority and non-minority seniors. While the median white household in the 51-60 age group had $18,000 in personal savings (not including the family home), the comparable black and Hispanic family asset level was less than $500.

_For every dollar of wealth held by white middle-aged households, black households were found to have only 27 cents, and Hispanic households about 30 cents. While the top 5% of white retirees claim $650,000 or more in assets, forty percent of black and Hispanic middle-aged families have no savings at all.

For both most minority households and the typical white household, Social Security remains the largest single source of wealth. Furthermore, the study concludes, the current benefit levels of the Social Security program, combined with other social benefit programs, discourage active savings programs._

Republican Medicare Plan Update

As Republicans begin to release information about their Medicare reform plan, new elements emerge. Faced with cutting $270 billion from the program, Republicans’ final proposal (due out within the next few weeks) will include

  • Increased Part B premiums. Already scheduled to rise, monthly premiums would increase to about $75.
  • Emphasis on HMOs. Financial incentives will be used to encourage enrollment in HMOs, which Republicans believe will save the government money.
  • Medical savings accounts. The plan may include vouchers, with beneficiaries’ savings placed in accounts for future years’ medical care.

White House Conference on Aging (Conclusion)

APRIL 17, 1995 VOLUME 2, NUMBER 41

Previous Elder Law Issues have described proposals considered by the Arizona delegation to the WHCoA. This (final) installment of the series will focus on the two remaining topic areas under discussion.

“Special” Populations

Among the concerns of Arizona delegates to the WHCoA are the specific problems of minority, rural, ethnic and disabled elderly. Some of the proposals discussed by the delegation relate to those special populations.

Adapt program eligibility standards to consider chronic illness, social and geographic isolation and lack of preventive health practices (all more frequent among minority and rural populations).

Continue the SSI program, and increase benefits and eligibility to federal poverty levels.

Exclude SSI from block grant proposals.

Target special populations in program outreach efforts.

Provide transportation for program beneficiaries, particularly in rural areas.

Encourage (or require) medical schools to focus health care delivery on special populations.

Require multilingual and multicultural staff in programs serving the elderly.

Permit program flexibility to reach and provide services to minority, rural and disabled elderly.

Involve volunteers in efforts to overcome language and ethnic barriers.

Recruit and promote minority group members to policy making levels in agencies and committees.

Increase training for service providers.

Elder Rights

Suggestions for enhancement of personal integrity and dignity:

Continue funding and enforcement under the Older Americans Act.

Focus more resources on providing affordable, secure and safe housing for the elderly.

Require minimum standards for guardianship, conservatorship and other legal proceedings.

Expand the Ombudsman program under the Older Americans Act.

Enhance programs providing for intergenerational contacts.

Establish multi-generational housing, utilizing elderly residents for teaching, child care and similar functions.

Improve access to transportation for seniors.

On to Washington

The WHCoA begins in two weeks. If you feel strongly about any of the suggestions described in the last three Elder Law Issues, or if you have suggestions of your own, feel free to contact any of the delegates to the Conference; you can reach delegate Robert Fleming at the address in our masthead or at the FAX number below.

White House Conference on Aging

APRIL 3, 1995 VOLUME 2, NUMBER 39

The White House Conference on Aging will convene in Washington, D.C. on May 2, 1995. For four days, delegates from around the country will discuss issues of importance to an aging American population.

Among the delegates will be four Pima County residents: Elder Law Issues Publisher Robert Fleming, PCOA Executive Director Marian Lupu, Univ. of Arizona Professor Theodore Koff, and former Social Security Commissioner Charles Schottland.

In previous Elder Law Issues, we have described some of the issues Arizona delegates wrestled with during the Arizona conference in January. Beginning with this issue, we will give you some insight into the issues that Arizona delegates thought important for the national agenda.

Issues on the Agenda

The Arizona conference dealt with five areas of concern for aging Arizonans. Those topic areas (more thoroughly described in previous Elder Law Issues) included:

  • Financial and Income Security
  • Health Care and Mental Health
  • Elder Rights
  • Long Term Care
  • Special and Minority Aged Populations

Not surprisingly, many of the ideas and concerns developed by the Arizona conference had been discussed and debated in previous forums. A sampling of the Social Security proposals and recommendations from the Arizona conference:
Isolate Social Security from other budget items, to preserve the programs viability and deal with anticipated future demands.

Reduce the federal deficit or, in other words, improve the quality of Social Security investments by avoiding use of Social Security to subsidize debt costs.

Streamline the Social Security Administration itself as a way to cut costs.

Consider means testing Social Security, but only if absolutely necessary (two of five separate discussion groups at the Arizona conference adamantly opposed any consideration of means testing).

Raise the wage cap on taxable salaries to generate more revenues.

Educate Americans to the reality that Social Security is intended to be a supplement to other retirement programs.

Encourage healthy seniors to remain employed longer by removing the cap on earnings for recipients (one discussion group adamantly opposed this solution, believing that the program would be seriously hurt financially).

Next Issue

Beginning next issue, Elder Law Issues will capsulize conference recommendations in other areas.

More AZ White House Conference on Aging

FEBRUARY 13, 1995 VOLUME 2, NUMBER 32

As mentioned in previous Elder Law Issues, the Arizona White House Conference on Aging held in Phoenix two weeks ago dealt with issues facing the full White House Conference on Aging when it meets in May. Arizona’s delegation dealt with several issues expected to dominate the national aging agenda.

Problems of “Special” Populations

Of course, elderly citizens may also belong to minority or disadvantaged groups. Of particular concern to the Arizona White House Conference on Aging were the specific problems encountered by four subgroups:

  • Ethnic and racial minorities
  • Physically disabled,
  • Developmentally disabled,
  • Homeless, and
  • Veterans

Approximately one-quarter of all citizens belongs to a minority ethnic group. Elderly minority group members may suffer from double (or even triple or quadruple) jeopardy. In addition to the problems shared by all elderly citizens, the ethnic elderly are less likely to be home owners, are more likely to have transportation problems, and may find language and cultural barriers to securing services.
Our increasingly mobile society may cause special problems for the ethnic elderly. Divorce rates, changes in family structures (including increased frequency of grandparent custody and visitation disputes) and elder abuse (including financial abuse) may work special emotional and financial hardships for ethnic minorities.

In Arizona, Native Americans face special problems. State and Federal disputes over responsibility for services has left an especially needy population vulnerable.

Older citizens with developmental disabilities may face many of the same problems. Their problems are compounded by the fact that the aging services network is unfamiliar with their needs, and is strained by the additional demands imposed by this special population.

Physical disabilities are increasingly common among the elderly. Among the most elderly (those 85 and older), 62% of women and 46% of men need help at home or are living in a nursing home. Physical barriers are even more limiting to the elderly physically disabled than to their younger counterparts.

Homelessness is increasingly common among the elderly. Particularly the elderly mentally ill, who in previous decades would have been housed in institutions, may now be displaced.

Veterans as a group are getting older, and medical programs and facilities designated for their care are not geared to meet their changing needs. Only 10% of qualified veterans use VA facilities, yet overcrowding and long waiting periods are endemic.

[Next issue: Financial Security Issues]

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