Have A Great Thanksgiving!

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I hope you’re having a wonderful turkey day with all your family.

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Featured Link — Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Almost all of us need help with our financial decisions. Without the proper education or training, it’s hard to make sense of some of the choices we face. And unfortunately, making sense of those choices seems to become harder as we age.

The federal government has set up an excellent site to help us with financial matters. ConsumerFinance.gov has many tools and resources to assist us in dealing with life’s everyday decisions. Here is a little information from the site:

Financial protection for older Americans

Our mission is to make markets for consumer financial products and services work for Americans — whether they are applying for a mortgage, choosing among credit cards, or using any number of other consumer financial products.

Older Americans face many financial challenges as they age. They have opportunities to travel, explore new fields of work or hobbies, or spend time with family and friends. But often scam artists or bad advice take away these opportunities. The Office of Financial Protection for Older Americans is here to give seniors information and tools to navigate safely through financial challenges.

Learn how to prevent elder financial exploitation using the Money Smart for Older Adults – Prevent Financial Exploitation curriculum. Produced in partnership with the FDIC, consumers can download the resource guide or the training module for instructors. Hard copies of the resource guide can be ordered and shipped free of charge here.

Financial caregiving is also an important task that many take on suddenly or with little preparation.  The free, downloadable Managing Someone Else’s Money guides are available for agents under powers of attorneycourt-appointed guardianstrustees, and government fiduciaries (Social Security representative payees and VA fiduciaries). You can order free print copies in bulk here.

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Health Insurance Companies Now Allied with Obama in Support of Affordable Care Act

According to a front-page analysis from Robert Pear of the New York Times titled “Health Law Turns Obama And Insurers Into Allies,” President Obama “is depending more than ever on the insurance companies that five years ago he accused of padding profits and canceling coverage for the sick.” Pear says that since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, “the relationship between the Obama administration and insurers has evolved into a powerful, mutually beneficial partnership that has been a boon to the nation’s largest private health plans and led to a profitable surge in their Medicaid enrollment.” Pear adds that insurers “have built their business plans around the 2010 law and will strenuously resist Republican efforts to dismantle it.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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Lawsuit Challenges HHS to Release Insurer Rate Hike Requests

The Washington Post “Wonkblog” reports that a lawsuit filed by a former official with the Department of Health and Human Services alleges that HHS is concealing insurers’ requested health insurance rate increases from the public. Jay Angoff’s suit goes on to say that hiding the rates violates the terms of the Affordable Care Act. While states normally review and release such requests, Federal officials play an important role in the “several states that don’t have an effective review program.”

The Daily Caller reports advocates first filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the information and Angoff launched his legal campaign after HHS “failed to respond.”

CNBC reports that Angoff served as the head of the HHS Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight. He filed the suit along with the Consumers Council of Missouri.

The AP reports the suit “alleges that HHS has failed to provide records the consumer group requested” and “is seeking information about the health insurers planning to offer policies next year, the rates the insurers plan to charge and the justifications for those rates.”

Missouri group files lawsuit against HHS for failure to provide insurance rate information

The AP reports that the Consumer Council of Missouri has sued HHS in an effort to obtain information “used to justify the rates consumers will pay for insurance on the federally run online marketplace.” The suit, which relies on FOIA, “alleges that HHS has failed to provide records the consumer group requested” and “is seeking information about the health insurers planning to offer policies next year, the rates the insurers plan to charge and the justifications for those rates.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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Practicing Law: What New Interns Should Know About Office Culture

Practicing Law What New Interns Should Know About Office Culture

Starting your first law internship is an exciting time. This is your chance to apply what you’ve learned in the classroom, and see the law firsthand. Unfortunately, many interns are initially surprised by the lack of excitement they find at work. You should know what to expect from your internship. This doesn’t mean all internships are boring, it just means you have to know about office culture to know how you can best use your time. Here are some tips for your law internship.

Observe
While you are there to work and will have tasks to do every day, your main job is to observe what other people are doing. Make sure you know the roles and responsibilities of everyone in the office. Ask lots of questions. Learn the inner workings of a law firm as best you can.

Everyone is Busy
Typically, law offices are busy places. Everyone has a million things to do. While it is important to ask questions, it is also important not to bother anyone too much. A good way to talk to people is to offer help first. Which brings us to the next point.

You are There to Help
You are there to help make everyone’s job easier. This means you may receive some menial, administrative tasks such as making copies. You may also have to do a lot of research, and sum up your findings for your boss quickly. Whatever your assignment is, do it quickly, do it well, and go above and beyond whenever possible.

You are Also There for You
An internship should not just be free labor. You should receive some type of compensation either through pay, housing stipend, school credit, or amazing learning opportunities. If you feel like your time is being wasted, talk to your supervisor about how you can better learn from the environment. You want to walk away with more than a pretty entry on your resume, at the end of the internship. You need valuable experiences and information you can use later on.

Network
Use your internship as a networking opportunity. You should know everyone in the firm you are working with, as well as any associates and judges who may be working with your firm. This is an important part of your internship. You should have a list of people and firms you can call upon once you are graduating and looking for a job, whether it’s a criminal practice in Minneapolis, or a local judge.

An internship is an amazing experience. Whether you are working for a Keyser law DUI lawyer or a public attorney, you will receive plenty of experience and knowledge to carry with you into your career.

This article is from Brooke Chaplan, a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

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Four Low-Impact Pool Exercises

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We know exercise is great for overall health, inside and out. That’s why it’s important to choose activities you find fun and are geared toward your activity personality. One great way to exercise is in the pool. Working out in the water warms up your muscles and is low impact, which means it does not cause wear, tear and injury to muscles. A great way to increase your heart rate and stay healthy, pool exercises are a great option that won’t put a lot of strain on your body.

Want a pool of your own? Designing an in-ground pool in your backyard is a possibility. Used primarily for exercise, straight edges (instead of ovular or unique shapes) are an idea if you plan to swim laps. Also, the pool does not have to be deep. You’ll want a shallow area where you can stand up with your head above the water. If you do not have your own pool, check out your local gym or community center for pools you can use to exercise.

In addition to laps, there are tons of other water moves that stretch muscles and keep you fit and can be adapted to all fitness levels.

Tread

Working your arms, back, chest, glutes and hamstrings, this exercise is good for your entire body. This exercise will also get your heart pumping. In the deeper end of the pool, tread to keep your head above water by making small circles with your hands while doing the egg-beater kick. Not sure what this looks like? Check out this YouTube video tutorial. Do this for a minute to start off. Increase endurance by increasing your time each week.

Water Crunches

Easier on the back and neck than regular crunches, doing sit-ups on the edge of the pool will work your abs. Like regular crunches, move your legs onto the deck and form a 90-degree angle so your glutes are against the wall and your knees are bent to keep your form. Sit up, focusing on your abs and being conscious not to put too much strain on your lower back. Do three sets of 15 to start, then build up to six sets.

To target your obliques, stand in the water with your legs hip-distance apart. Sway back and forth like you are a pendulum to target the sides of your stomach.

Kickboard

If you want to get a bit of cardio in but don’t like getting your hair wet, a kickboard is a great pool prop for you. The small, floating board can be held by your arms to keep your head above water while kicking your legs to swim laps from one side to another. Time yourself, and complete five- to 10-minute increments with breaks. This exercise will challenge your heart and work your legs.

Arm Lifts

For arms, stand in the water with all but your head below the waterline. Keep feet hip-distance apart and place your arms on the sides of your body. Lift both arms up at the same time. The water will provide resistance, making the move more difficult. Do three sets of 10 lifts. For more arm exercises, check out this article on FitDay.com.

This article is from Carolyn Anger. Carolyn got her start as the lead editorial contributor for an Arizona-based spa website. She is now a freelance blogger for several clients in the beauty, health and women’s interests industries. 

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VA Implements Second Phase of Choice Card Program

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Cards sent to Veterans waiting more than 30 days for care

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that it began mailing Veterans Choice Cards on November 17 to Veterans currently waiting more than 30-days from their preferred date or the date that is medically determined by their physician for an appointment at a VA facility.

 “VA continues to focus on implementation of this new temporary benefit so that Veterans receive the timely quality care they need in a way that reduces confusion and inefficiencies,” said Secretary Robert A. McDonald, who penned an open letter to Veterans announcing the implementation of the Choice Card program.

The Choice Program is a new, temporary benefit that allows some Veterans to receive health care in their communities rather than waiting for a VA appointment or traveling to a VA facility. The first round of cards along with a letter explaining the program was issued on November 5 to Veterans who are eligible based on their place of residence. VA is now engaging in the next phase of its rollout –eligibility explanation letters are being sent to Veterans waiting more than 30 days from their preferred date to be seen or considered medically necessary by their physician.

To improve service delivery, VA has prioritized efforts to accelerate Veterans off of wait lists and into clinics through the Accelerated Care Initiative begun over the summer. Through this initiative, VA medical centers have increased access to care inside and outside of VA, added more clinic hours and work days, deployed mobile medical units and shared their best practices from VA’s high-performing facilities throughout the organization.

 Significant improvements have resulted nationally:

  • Scheduling more than 1.2 million more appointments in the past four months than in the same period last year. In total, VA medical centers have scheduled over 19 million Veteran appointments from June to October 1, 2014;
  • Reducing the national new patient Primary Care wait time by 18 percent;
  • Completing 98 percent of appointments within 30 days of the Veterans’ preferred date, or the date determined to be medically necessary by a physician;
  • Authorizing 1.1 million non-VA care authorizations, a 47-percent increase over the same period last year; and
  • Increasing the amount of time providers could deliver care to Veterans by increasing the amount of clinic hours in primary and specialty care and through adding weekend and evening clinics at our medical centers.

 VA is America’s largest integrated health care system with over 1,700 sites of care, serving approximately 9 million Veterans enrolled in health care services.  The Choice Program is part of the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (VACAA), enacted nearly three months ago, to enable VA to meet the demand for Veterans’ health care in the short-term.

 For more information about the Choice Program, call 1-866- 606-8198 or visit http://www.va.gov/opa/choiceact/.

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What You Should Tell Your Personal Injury Lawyer

What You Should Tell Your Personal Injury Lawyer

When someone needs a personal injury lawyer, it can come at a time filled with confusion and concern. Therefore, it’s best to make sure that you know what to tell your personal injury lawyer when the time comes to begin your case. That way, proper preparation can address any eventuality. Here are four things that should definitely be included in any legal discussion:

Full Details Of The Accident

Give your personal injury lawyer all the information on when, where and how your accident happened. That lawyer should have extensive experience in that field and be well versed in all the nuances of such cases, much like Kitchen Simeson Belliveau LLP., Lindsay lawyers. In addition, give as much information as you can about potential witnesses who can testify on your behalf. Finally, provide details and documentation on any injuries suffered, as well as any subsequent diagnosis and treatment.

Accidents and Injuries Before and After

Disclosing any previous incidents (as well as injuries) is imperative, since the insurance company that could end up paying will thoroughly investigate your past history. If they happen to believe that you’re faking your injuries, they could have investigators follow you around, taking photographs and/or video.

Should you suffer any injuries between the time of the accident and your first meeting with a lawyer, they should be immediately disclosed. Otherwise, lawyers for the defendant could claim that your injuries stem from the other incident.

Criminal History

As with any legal case, your credibility will come under attack from opposing lawyers. If you have had legal troubles in the past, disclosing that immediately will allow your lawyer to develop his case accordingly. While you might still have to endure a withering cross examination when the times comes, your attorney will be fully prepared to fight for you.

Bankruptcy and Divorce

Letting your personal injury lawyer know about personal or financial history troubles is a must, since it will undoubtedly come under close scrutiny to determine if any lawsuit you file is based on you simply trying to collect money, as opposed to offsetting the cost of the resulting damages.

Giving your legal team all the information it needs is the first step toward success in the courtroom. By providing them with what they need, you’ll be helping yourself.

This article is from Savannah Coulsen, a freelance writer. She lives in Long Beach. Savannah loves to read and write and she hopes to write a novel someday. Savannah also loves learning and is a self-proclaimed health guru.

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Transitioning Your Parent to a Nursing Home? What to Know about Negligence and Abuse

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Transitioning an elderly parent to a nursing home is stressful and emotional for both the family and the parent. However, this is often the only option for some families. During this transition, children might be worried about the level of care their parent is receiving in the nursing home. Hearing of negligence and abuse in nursing homes is not uncommon these days, which might have you concerned about moving your parent to a home. If these thoughts have crossed your mind, there are a few things you should know before your parent actually makes the move.

Warning Signs

More than 500,000 adults over the age of 60 are neglected in the United States alone. It can be hard at first to recognize signs of elderly abuse or neglect, especially if you don’t see your parent often. Elderly abuse can take on a variety of forms, such as physical, emotional, sexual abuse, neglect, financial exploitation and healthcare fraud. However, commons signs to look for are physical injuries, mood changes, poor hygiene, malnourishment, bed sores, urine sores, over-sedation or the use of restraints. It is also important to not to jump to conclusions, because it is hard to prove abuse.

Risk Factors

The stress of taking care of seniors can lead to physical and mental health problems. Caregivers may become impatient, get burned out and more likely to lash out at seniors in their care. Common risk factors for elder abuse are depression, unable to cope with stress, negative perception, substance abuse and lack of support. Nursing home staff are more prone to elder abuse when they have too many responsibilities, lack training, work under poor conditions or not suited for caregiving. Keep these factors in mind when choosing a nursing home for your parent. Many homes will allow you to visit and check the place out before moving your parent, so pay close attention to the staff and organization before making a decision.

How to Prevent Elder Abuse

Once your parent is living at the nursing home, it is important to continually watch for signs to prevent abuse. Only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse are ever reported to the authorities. You should also take a look at your senior parent’s medication. It is also a good idea to check to see if the amount of pills in the bottle coincides with the date of the prescription. When you are not visiting, you need to call as much as possible to keep tabs on things.

Reporting Abuse

Some families make the mistake of not reporting the abuse. If you suspect someone is abusing your loved one at a nursing home, then you need to call your long term care ombudsman. An ombudsman serves as an advocate for residents of assisted living facilities and nursing homes. They are trained to resolve problems and to make sure that residents get quality care. If the problem is serious, you might need to hire legal help to resolve the matter.

Adult children should listen to their elderly parent’s wishes when looking for the best nursing home. It is important to find a facility with trained and compassionate staff members that has the capacity to care for your parent. Parents will make the best transition with support from family and medical staff, in a place where they feel comfortable and cared for.

This article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write for business, finance, women’s interests, and family issues. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters. Dixie got advice for this article from the professionals at the Tanner Law Firm, a Las Vegas Law Firm that specializes in nursing home negligence and abuse cases.

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Student Loan Debt Can Jeopardize Seniors’ Retirement

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A recent article in the Dallas Morning News gave me pause — I hadn’t thought about how many senior citizens still owed money on student loans. Of course, most of these people went back to school at an older age and did not have loans left over from their original college years. Still, it seems to be a growing problem. Here are the opening paragraphs from the story:

At first glance, the news appears good: Comparatively few households headed by older Americans carry student debt compared with other types of debt, according to a new report.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office found that about 3 percent of households headed by those age 65 or older — about 706,000 households — carry student loan debt. This compares with about 24 percent of households headed by those age 64 or younger, or 22 million households.

However, if you look deeper into the report, things aren’t all rosy.

For one thing, that 706,000 figure represented a fourfold increase between 2004 and 2010.

What’s more, the amount that senior citizens owe in outstanding federal student loans jumped sixfold, from $2.8 billion in 2005 to more than $18 billion last year, the GAO said.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at Free Digital Photos.net.

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