In Wake of Philips Recall, Patients Still Waiting for Sleep Apnea Devices

by Jennifer Henderson: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Effects of recall reverberate through sleep medicine community.

More than a year after the start of a recall now involving more than 5 million breathing devices, doctors and patients are still feeling the effects as manufacturer Philips continues to remediate machines and weathers scrutiny from federal agencies.

The recall by subsidiary Philips Respironics has affected certain continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machines and mechanical ventilators mainly due to potential health risks from polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) sound abatement foam that was used in the machines.

Philips said at the time of the recall that the foam could degrade into particles that could enter the device’s air pathway and be ingested by the user, and that it could off-gas certain chemicals.

The issues, the company said at the time, could result in serious injury that could be life-threatening, cause permanent impairment, and/or require medical intervention. Potential health risks of particulate or chemical exposure range from irritation to toxic and carcinogenic effects, the company said.

Though the recall initially applied to between 3 and 4 million machines, that number has since grown to 5.5 million, according to the company.

Recalling such a mass of critical devices has posed several challenges. Philips still has work to do on a sprawling repair and replacement program, and federal agencies have continued to monitor the company’s progress and communications. On top of that, Philips has agreed to pay $24 million to settle kickback allegations that were being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Those allegations were unrelated to the recall and were originally brought by a whistleblower employee. (See this related story on Philips’ run-ins with the DOJ.)

HIGH RATES OF DEPRESSION AND PTSD FOUND IN FLINT 5 YEARS AFTER WATER CRISIS

BY DUKE TODAY STAFF: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Very high rates of depression and PTSD linked to water contamination.

Data from the largest mental health survey of the Flint, Michigan community indicate that one in five adults, or roughly 13,600 people, were estimated to have clinical depression, and one in four, or 15,000 people, were estimated to have PTSD five years after the water crisis began.

“The mental health burden of America’s largest public-works environmental disaster clearly continues for many adults in Flint,” said Aaron Reuben, a postdoctoral scholar at Duke University who led the research, which appears Sept. 20 in JAMA Network Open.

Disabled Monopoly Player Panics as Assets Approach $2000

by NATE WOOGEN: For Complete Post, Click Here…

With his top hat token resting on Pennsylvania Avenue, disabled Monopoly player John Owens, 24, panicked as he realized he had $1,900 in total assets. If he reached over $2,000, he would be ineligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) — and that $200 Go space was looming right around the corner.

“If only Sarah hadn’t landed on Connecticut,” bemoaned Owens after collecting unwanted money from an opponent. He subsequently offered to trade New York Avenue for a property of lesser value. 

Since SSI counts total assets, not just cash, merely putting his money into purchasing houses on his monopoly of Mediterranean and Baltic Avenues would not help. SSI rules and Monopoly rules are similar in that some people are forced to follow the written policies closely while others are so privileged they don’t even know the rules exist.

“I should have been buying houses and then selling them for half the value to keep my assets low,” said Owens, calculating how much money he could lose if he mortgaged and unmortgaged his properties with a 10% interest rate. “But I forgot.”

The three able-bodied players were able to amass sizable financial empires while Owens struggled to keep his fortune under $2,000.

NTA Blog: Improving Services to Taxpayers With Visual Disabilities

From The NTA Blog: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Millions of U.S. taxpayers are visually impaired and unable to read print material in a standard font size. As a result of a settlement agreement between the IRS and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) on July 10, 2020, the IRS agreed to develop a process for taxpayers to request post-filing tax notices in a variety of acceptable formats, including Braille and large print. (See IRS statement, July 15, 2020.) This settlement resolved a case brought forth by several blind taxpayers and NFB who alleged the IRS was in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which prohibits individuals with a disability from being excluded from the participation in, being denied the benefits of, or being subjected to discrimination under any executive agency.

Visually Impaired Taxpayers Now Have More Accessibility Options

In January 2022, the IRS implemented a new alternative media process where visually impaired taxpayers can elect to receive certain types of written correspondence in:

  • Large Print,
  • Braille,
  • Audio (MP3),
  • Plain Text File (TXT), or
  • Braille Ready File (BRF).

Taxpayers can make this election either by calling the IRS and making an oral statement, by attaching Form 9000, Alternative Media Preference, to their tax return when filing their taxes, or by mailing a separate signed Form 9000 to the IRS.  Once the taxpayer makes the election, the IRS will place an indicator on the taxpayer’s account so it will provide certain written correspondence in the selected format going forward.

Penalty Relief

If the IRS sends a standard print notice despite the taxpayer’s election to receive such notices in an accessible format, and this results in the taxpayer not taking a required action (for example, making a payment), relief from certain penalties may be available. To obtain the relief, the taxpayer would still need to establish reasonable cause, including providing the following information:

  • Did the taxpayer provide a description of the impairment that prevented him or her from reading the standard print notice?
  • What was the taxpayer’s degree of knowledge about the tax, interest, or penalty owed before receiving the standard print notice?
  • When did the IRS receive the taxpayer’s request to receive notices in an accessible format?
  • If a notice was later sent in an accessible format, did the taxpayer promptly respond to it?

Taxpayers can request reasonable cause relief by calling the toll-free number on their IRS notice or writing a letter to request “penalty relief due to reasonable cause.”

Subtitle the world

ByAmanda Florian: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Sirens blare and the roar of impatient drivers echoes in the background. Jake Giovanni, who is deaf, sits across from me in his apartment in Charlotte, North Carolina, to test out XRAI Glass—new tech that produces captions in real time for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Giovanni, 24, is one of the first in the US to see the tech in action. A compatible smartphone running XRAI Glass software captures audio while a pair of augmented reality glasses—in this case, the Nreal Air AR glasses created by Beijing-based Nreal—display captions on Giovanni’s lenses. After selecting “start captions,” the app begins captioning our interview as if we were watching a TV show or film with subtitles.

“I’m really thankful that somebody’s doing this,” he said. “You have to start somewhere. And the impact that this could make on someone’s life is incredible.”

On the top left of Giovanni’s lens is a small icon that shows network strength, and in the middle is me. The sleek glasses, tinted—with space for prescription lenses—allow a person to view what’s in front of them as captions appear on the bottom left side. London-based tech startup XRAI Glass provided Morning Brew with a compatible device from Nreal in order to test the software with interviewees.

Giovanni, a consulting analyst, explained his profound hearing loss was caused by a mutation in a particular gene on his X chromosome.

Final Public Charge Rule Adds Critical Protections for Immigrant Families

By Katherine Villeda, Colin Reusch: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Late last week following guidance from the Biden administration, the Department of Homeland Security released the final Public Charge Rule, taking an important step forward to undo the harm caused by the previous administration’s rule which significantly threatened access to critical services for immigrants and their families. This final rule adds critical protections and affirms that immigrants and their families can safely access health, housing and nutritional programs to which they are entitled to without fear of consequences to their immigration status.     

Here is what advocates need to know:  

  • The final rule goes into effect Dec. 22, 2022. Between now and then, the field guidance from the 1999 rule will continue to be followed.  
  • Immigrants and their families, including citizen children, can safely access non-cash health, nutritional and housing programs they qualify for, such as Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and Section 8 housing assistance. Benefits received from these programs will not count towards the public charge test. 
  • Applying for benefits, being approved for benefits, assisting someone else to apply for benefits, or being in the same household as someone who receives benefits will not be counted towards the applicant’s immigration application.  
  • The only programs that can be considered in a public charge determination are Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance, state and locally funded cash assistance for income maintenance, and long-term institutional care paid for by Medicaid (this excludes short term or rehabilitative care and home and community-based services). However, getting these benefits does not automatically make someone a public charge. Other factors such as when benefits were received, length of receipt of benefits, education, skills, income and affidavit of support will be taken into account before making a public charge determination. If a public charge determination is made, immigration officers must now state their reasons as to why someone is a public charge.  

A further analysis of the final rule can be found here.   

At a wheelchair rally, Inglis House residents protest the sale of their home

by Harold Brubaker: For Complete Post, Click Here…

ngd-Financial capitalism at its worst…

Residents fear the loss of a way of life if the facility is sold to Tryko Partners.

A group of Inglis House residents took to the sidewalk in West Philadelphia Friday afternoon to protest the planned sale of the home they deeply appreciate to a for-profit organization from Brick, N.J.

They said they fear the loss of so much they love about the nursing home at 2600 Belmont Ave., which specializes in the care of people with paralysis and impaired mobility. High-quality food, computers, museum visits, music, and shopping trips — things they may not find at other homes that can accommodate their physical needs — are some of the amenities that residents dread losing if the sale happens.

“Now it’s going to change, and not for the better,” said Annette Davis, who has lived there for eight years.

Inglis Foundation announced the sale of Inglis House in July to Tryko Partners, a fast-growing for-profit that already owns 10 facilities in the Philadelphia region. Inglis management said at the time that the nursing home loses so much money that it will eventually jeopardize the entire organization, which also provides community services and develops low-income housing for individuals with disabilities who don’t need nursing-home levels of care.

A contentious issue is the Inglis Foundation’s $240 million endowment. Management says only a slice of it is restricted to the nursing home and will continue to support the nursing home after the sale.

Family Caregiver Services by State

From The Family Caregiver Alliance: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Our Family Caregiver Services by State tool helps you locate public and nonprofit programs and services nearby, no matter where you live in the United States. Resources include government health and disability programs, legal, in-home, out-of-home care, and more. Caregiving is challenging, but there are resources to help. Choose a state in the dropdown menu, or click on a state in the map for state-specific resources, then filter by topic to help you find what resources are available to help with your situation.

Select a state…

Medicare Assistance Programs Go Unused Despite Need

By Julie Carter: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Older adults and people with disabilities may face barriers to programs that could help them pay for Medicare and other basic needs, like food, housing, and utilities. These challenges range from confusing or restrictive application and eligibility rules to simply not knowing about a program’s existence. As costs continue to rise, it is increasingly important to ensure that people who need help get it.

For example, Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs) pay Medicare premiums for eligible enrollees and, in some cases, cover cost-sharing like copayments and coinsurance. But MSP enrollment is consistently low, despite widespread efforts to increase use and outreach. This is likely from a combination of people not knowing about or understanding the program and administrative inefficiencies like complex enrollment or asset documentation processes. Medicare Rights continues to suggest ways states could address these problems and increase MSP uptake, like making better use of existing technology and data, implementing automatic renewals, increasing income eligibility thresholds, and removing asset limits.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is another critical but under-enrolled program. Food insecurity is widespread among older adults with an estimated 9.5 million people 50 or older and 5 million people 60 or older facing limited or uncertain access to adequate food. Despite this need, SNAP participation rates for the older adult population are low, with an estimated 29% of those eligible participating. In a series of reports earlier this year, AARP explored the reasons for this and identified several policy changes that could bolster older adult participation: higher eligibility limits, outreach to eligible people, streamlined application processes, and increased minimum benefits.

Other benefit programs are also underused by older adults, leaving many struggling to afford basic needs. Medicare Rights recommends contacting your local Area Agency on Aging and State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), as well as using online tools like Benefits Checkup, to see if you or a loved one are eligible for assistance programs in your area. Eligibility rules and access vary by state and community, so we advise people to check even if they feel certain they do not qualify.

Up to 4 million people may be out of work due to long Covid, new research suggests

By Aria Bendix: For Complete Post, Click Here…

Up to 4 million people may be out of work because of long Covid in the U.S, according to a report published this week by the Brookings Institution.

In lost wages, that could add up to at least $170 billion per year, the report suggests.

the Brookings report determined that 2 million to 4 million people in the U.S. are working less or not at all because of their illness.

“This is a shocking number,” said Katie Bach, the report’s author and a nonresident senior fellow at Brookings.

“If this looks like other post-viral illnesses, some people will recover, but there will be this big stock of people who don’t, and it will just continue to grow over time,” she said.