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Elder, Health and Disability Community Partnerships
Community partnerships are a mainstay of our elder, health and disability work. They enable us to expand our advocacy efforts. Our current collaborative initiatives include assuring access to health care, economic security and preserving housing for elders.
Access to Health Care
Protecting Nursing Home Residents
There are approximately 35,000 elderly and disabled residents in nursing homes who are amongst the most vulnerable and isolated of our client groups. We provide a voice for these residents through our unique coalition — Coalition for Reform Eldercare (CORE). The Coalition includes individual and community group advocates: Mass. Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, Cape United Elders and Mass. Senior Action Council.
CORE is the only consumer group advocating in the legislature to protect important nursing home resident benefits such as personal needs allowance and bed hold guarantees if a resident must leave to go to a hospital. We organized this coalition twelve years ago. We have had significant success and we will continue to advocate for improving quality of care and quality of life for nursing residents.
Medicaid, Medicare and MassHealth
- As the primary source of Medicare beneficiary expertise in Massachusetts, GBLS' Medicare Advocacy Project (MAP) provides extensive training and education to advocacy and client groups, as well as state agencies. MAP works with partners to resolve issues as they arise.
For example, MAP received calls from several housing authorities and consumers about salesmen for private Medicare Advantage plans who were engaging in abusive marketing techniques: showing up unannounced at elders’ homes; misrepresenting policy content; signing up people cognitively unable to understand. MAP teamed up with Serving Health Insurance Needs of Everyone (SHINE) counselors to change company policy and terminate the offending sales representatives. In addition, MA worked with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to have policies rescinded that had been improperly sold.
- In partnership with the Boston Bar Association, Childrens Hospital Boston and Health Law Advocates, GBLS has developed the How to Guide for Parents of Children with Mental Illness, now in its third edition. This guide walks parents through the maze of differing symptoms, payment options and services available here in Massachusetts. It is the most requested publication in the history of the Boston Bar Association. (link to CHB website, guide home)
- GBLS is collaborating with DAAHR, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI), Disability Law Center (DLC) and other partners to help guide the state in its proposal to establish a health care delivery system which integrates Medicare and MassHealth coverage for dual eligibles ages of 21 and 64. GBLS has submitted comments emphasizing issues of eligibility/enrollment; disability access, covered services; appeal rights; behavioral health community based services; and long term care services. Our goal is to ensure that this care model is voluntary and that it incorporates the best of Medicaid and Medicare.
GBLS' Children’s Disability Project (CDP) partners with corporate counsel from EMD Serano, and now LPL Financial, to provide representation in children’s SSI disability cases. CDP trains the attorneys and provides support to them throughout the case.
GBLS has partnered with the National Health Care for the Homeless Council to create a SSI Task Force of that national organization. This group works to expand homeless individuals' access to federal disability benefits through administrative advocacy with the Social Security Administration, educating their own medical providers — as well as Congress — about the importance of this benefit.
GBLS, in partnership with the Disability Law Center, Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) and MAHASA, is working to ensure that homeless Massachusetts residents get the benefit of two recent nationwide class actions, Clarke v. Astrue and Martinez v. Astrue. In both cases, federal courts held that the Social Security Administration violated federal statutes in terminating or denying benefits to individuals with outstanding warrants. We are doing outreach and training to adult shelters to reach these individuals.
Preserving Housing for Elders
We work with the GBLS Housing Unit, a tenant group and community organizations to protect the rights of the many long-time, low-income elder tenants in the Heritage development in Malden. This developomen is subject to expiring use changes and the owner has proposed rehab and rent increases that would restrict the number of affordable units available in the future.