GBO NEWS: For Politicians—Sources on Aging in Prison; USC Health Journalism Fellowships; NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly’s Hearing Loss; Nursing Home Poverty; Social Security Report and Bonehead Falsehood via Yahoo; Elders Mental Health; Medicare Shortfall on Breast Cancer; Teetering on Medicaid’s Edge; & More


E-News of the Journalists Network on Generations.  

April ­­­­­­7, 2023 — Volume 30, Number 4

EDITOR’S NOTEGBONews, e-news of the Journalists Network on Generations (JNG), publishes alerts for journalists, producers and authors covering generational issues. If you have difficulty getting to the full issue of GBONews with the links provided below, simply go to to read the latest or past editions. Send your news of important stories or books (by you and others), fellowships, awards or pertinent kvetches to GBO News Editor Paul Kleyman. []. To subscribe to at no charge, simply sending a request to Paul with your name, address, phone number and editorial affiliation or note that you freelance. For each issue, you’ll receive the table of contents in an e-mail, so just click through to the full issue at GBONews does not provide its list to other entities. NOTE ALSO: Some news links below hit paywalls and are inaccessible without subscriptions, although a number of those do allow free access to the first few stories.

In This IssueThanks to all the GBONews readers who sent such kind responses to our “Special 30th Anniversary Issue”. Have a swell Easter/Passover/Ramadan!

1. MEMO TO POLITICIANS — SOURCES ON AGING IN PRISON: Report on America’s Graying Prisons from the Prison Journalism Project to the Department of Justice.

2. EYES ON THE PRIZE: *** USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism’s 2023 National Fellowship. 

3. GEN BEATLES NEWS: *** “NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly talks about living with hearing loss,” by Katherine Ellison, Washington Post; *** Marc Freedman’s “Brief But Spectacular Take on Making the Most of the Multi-Generational,” PBS NewsHour

4. THE STORYBOARD: *** “In Nursing Homes, Impoverished Live Final Days on Pennies,” by Matt SedenskyAssociated Press

*** “Aging and Mental Health,” by Barbara Mantel, (Congressional Quarterly) CQ Researcher

*** “What does the new Social Security forecast mean for retirees?” by Mark Miller, Retirement RevisedNew York Times and Reuters

*** Emerging Social Security proposals may fall short on addressing retirement crisis,” Kerry Hannon, Yahoo Finance* Bogus Social Security Claim in Yahoo-linked Column; 

*** “Breast Cancer Costs Linger for Many Women as Medicare Falls Short,” by Patricia AnstettDetroit Free Press

*** “‘We’re teetering on the edge.’ Are Medicaid rates making it harder to age at home?” by Annmarie Timmins, New Hampshire Bulletin


*** Memo for Politicians: As current events have indicated, indictments and potential incarceration of elders who find themselves to be not above the law could well add to the mounting number aging inmates. Following are research sources for journalists, perhaps also for political influencers, who may find renewed interest in prison reform. (Unlike many promising news media articles, the following sources are not locked behind pay-bars.)

“The Graying of America’s Prisons,” The Prison Journalism Project (Jan. 10, 2023). 

Aging Behind Prison WallsStudies in Trauma and Resilience, by Tina Maschi and Keith Morgen, Columbia University Press, 2020.

Aging Prisoners: A Curated Collection of Links,” The Marshall Project (ongoing posts).

“What Second Chance? The Uncertain Future of Post-Prison Health Care,” by Cassie M. Chew, The Crime Report, Center on Media, Crime and Justice at John Jay College,  (May 1, 2019).

“Aging Prison Populations Drive Up Costs,” (“Older individuals have more chronic illnesses and other ailments that necessitate greater spending”) Pew Trusts (Feb. 20, 2018).

“The Impact of an Aging Inmate Population on the Federal Bureau of Prisons,” US Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General (February 2016).

** “Aging in Prison: How Older Generations Fight for Dignity and Release,” by Annakai Hawakawa Geslider, Rafu Shimpo (Los Angeles, Japanese American News, May 28, 2022).

* America’s prison population is aging, but care options for older parolees remain limited,” by Amna Nawaz, PBS NewsHour (Nov 16, 2021).

** “Aging in Prison: A Cruel and Not Unusual Punishment,” by Kate FergusonReal Health (May 1, 2020).

  ** Articles supported by Journalists in Aging Fellows Program. 


*** USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism’s 2023 National Fellowship will provide $2,000 to $10,000 in reporting grants, five months of mentoring from a veteran journalist, and a week of intensive training at USC Annenberg in Los Angeles in mid-July. Click here for more information and the application form, due May 5

Says their website, “The National Fellowship provides journalists a chance . . . to take a deep look together at pervasive social and economic inequities in the United States, and the lasting health effects of systemic racism and exclusion on families and communities. Our program places strong emphasis on the ways in which environmental and community conditions can influence how long and how well we live.” Applicants do not need to be a health journalist to be considered. Past fellows, such as GBO’s editor, explored the issues through a health or social-welfare equity lens.


*** “NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly talks about living with hearing loss,” by Katherine EllisonWashington Post(March 19, 2023): In her new memoir, It. Goes. So. Fast. The Year of No Do-Overs , just being released, NPR’s All Things Considered co-host Mary Louise Kelly, now 51, writes of coping with hearing loss that began about a decade ago. As WaPo’s Ellison notes, Kelly, who fielded questions “through her Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids,” is one of the 36 million adults in the United States who have some hearing loss, according to the National Institutes of Health

Although Kelly believes her deafness may be genetic, she told Ellison, “I can’t say for sure. I spent a lot of time in war zones and on helicopters, and I went to concerts and probably cranked my Walkman too loud. … Also during one of my pregnancies I got pretty sick with an ear infection and they wouldn’t let me take antibiotics because of the possible effect on the child. I’ve always wondered: Did I do some damage? My doctor says maybe.”

Broadcasting stories? “When I’m anchoring, I never have trouble, because the NPR studio is soundproof — there’s no background noise to distract you, and I wear great headphones that I can crank loud. It’s harder when I do interviews from home or when I’m out in the field because we have to route the calls through the main office. This has taken more work from everyone else, and I obviously feel bad about that. So far, there has always been a workaround. Still I’ve thought more than once about how long can I do this? I’m good at my job, but I don’t want to be a burden.”

Kelly offers this insight for every reporter: “There’s an art and a skill and a grace to doing interviews, and one thing I’ve had to learn is to sometimes let the silence play out, to let the questions sit. It’s very uncomfortable, especially on live radio, if you ask the next question and they don’t immediately answer because they’re thinking about it. The instinct is to rush in and fill the space. But if you let it sit, it’s surprising how often the answer reveals itself as the most interesting part of the entire interview.”

*** Marc Freedman’s “Brief But Spectacular Take on Making the Most of the Multi-Generational,” PBSNewsHour (March 15, 2023): “One of the most inaccurate and pernicious stereotypes about older people is that their best work is behind them,” declares Freedman, founder and Co-CEO of CoGenerate (formerly, which creates programs “to bridge the divides between people of different ages.” 

Freedman, author most recently of How to Live Forever: The Enduring Power of Connecting the Generations(PublicAffairs, 2018), elaborates, “There’s a mismatch between the life course that we have inherited, which is you jam all the education into the first part of life, all the work into the middle and all the leisure into the end.”

He continued, “That model might have worked when life expectancy was 60 or 65. But it’s not designed for the new longer lives that people are already living and that will be extended even further in the future. You can’t simply work for 30 or 40 years and then live off it for another 30 or 40 years.” 

He continues, “But it’s also not psychologically viable. Older people need what we all need, what Freud described as love and work, a sense of connection, of bonds that matter deeply, and a reason to get up in the morning. But . . . we have created a society where people of different ages have relatively little contact. . . How do you learn to cooperate with someone of a different age if you don’t have any contact with them. . . ? I think the key is proximity and purpose. We need to rethink the institutions that have been designed for older people, and do it in a way which bring generations together for mutual benefit and for a greater sense of joy.”


*** “In Nursing Homes, Impoverished Live Final Days on Pennies,” by Matt SedenskyAssociated Press (March 15, 2023): 

The Lede: “New pants to replace Alex Morisey’s tattered khakis will have to wait. There’s no cash left for sugar-free cookies either. Even at the month’s start, the budget is so bare that Fixodent is a luxury. Now, halfway through it, things are so tight that even a Diet Pepsi is a stretch. ‘How many years do I have left?’ asks 82-year-old Morisey, who lives in a Philadelphia nursing home. . .  ‘To some degree, you lose your dignity.’”

The Nutshell: “Across the U.S., hundreds of thousands of nursing home residents are locked in a wretched bind: Driven into poverty, forced to hand over all income and left to live on a stipend as low as $30 a month. . . Nearly two-thirds of American nursing home residents have their care paid for by Medicaid and, in exchange, all Social Security, pension and other income they would receive is instead rerouted to go toward their bill. The personal needs allowance is meant to pay for anything not provided by the home, from a phone to clothes and shoes to a birthday present for a grandchild. One problem: Congress hasn’t raised the allowance in decades.”

A Quote: “It’s really one of the most humiliating things for them,” says Sam Brooks, an attorney for The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, which advocates for nursing home residents and has urged an increase in the allowance. ‘It can really be a point of shame.’”

Case in Point: “When Marla Carter visits her mother-in-law at a nursing home in Owensboro, Kentucky, the scene feels more 19th-century poorhouse than modern-day America. With just a $40 allowance, residents are dressed in ill-fitting hand-me-downs or hospital gowns that drape open. Some have no socks or shoes. Basic supplies run low. Many don’t even have a pen to write with. . . She was so horrified that she and her husband started a nonprofit, Faithful Friends Kentucky, to distribute items to area nursing home residents.”

Background: “Medicaid was created in 1965, as part of the Great Society programs . . . A 1972 amendment established the personal needs allowance, set at a minimum of $25 monthly. . . Had it been linked to inflation, it would be about $180 today. But Congress has raised the minimum rate only once, to $30, in 1987. . . Faced with federal inaction, [some] states have taken it upon themselves to raise allowances.”

What’s More: Even so, most remain low. A majority of states – 28 – have allowances of $50 or less, according to a state-by-state survey by the American Council on Aging. Just five states grant residents $100 or more each month, including Alaska, which stands alone in offering $200 monthly, the maximum under federal law. Four states – Alabama, Illinois, North Carolina and South Carolina – remain at the $30 minimum . . . Nursing home residents often must cede control of everything from how often they get a shower to what they eat.”

*** “Aging and Mental Health,” by Barbara MantelCQ Researcher (March 24, 2023 – Volume 33, Issue 11): The Dek: Can the U.S. health system handle the needs of an expanding older population?

Introduction: By 2034, the number of adults aged 65 and older is expected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history. Older adults face unique risks for mental illness, including the emotional stress from health disorders more common to older age, the loss of purpose that can accompany retirement and loneliness that can result from the death of friends and family. 

“Yet their rates of mental illness, though significant, are lower than younger cohorts, for reasons that are not entirely clear. This trend is holding during the COVID-19 pandemic despite the higher risk to older Americans for severe illness and death from the virus. Still, relatives and many medical professionals often fail to recognize mental health problems in older people, mistakenly believing symptoms are a normal part of aging. Mental health professionals who specialize in treating the geriatric population are rare. Experts say primary care physicians must be better trained in basic geriatric psychiatry and collaborate with consulting psychiatrists to connect older adults to appropriate care.” 

*** “What does the new Social Security forecast mean for retirees?” by Mark MillerRetirement Revised (on Substack, April 4, 2023): The DekIf last week’s [annual Social Security] trustee report jangled your nerves, take a deep breath. 

The Nutshell: The report said the Social Security retirement trust fund reserves will be depleted in 2033, a year earlier than they projected a year ago. (“A separate report found that Medicare’s financial situation improved a bit last year.”) Miller notes, however, “Social Security finished 2022 with $2.7 trillion in reserves, and it can pay full benefits for another 10 years, according to the report. Still, the program is on course for sharp across-the-board benefit cuts in 2033, absent action by the U.S. Congress. . . This year, the downward revision was chalked up to lower labor productivity and economic growth.”

What’s More: “Here are a couple other recent stories I’ve published on Social Security reform:

Fixing Social Security and Medicare: Where the parties stand (New York Times

Why Gen Xers and millennials should be following the U.S. Social Security debate (Reuters)

*Toward a new social insurance era (This is an excerpt from my book, Retirement Reboot, published by

*** Emerging Social Security proposals may fall short on addressing retirement crisis,” Kerry HannonYahoo Finance (March 22, 2023): The Lede: “Lawmakers are starting to put forth proposals to head off the funding crisis for Social Security and to help bolster retirees’ financial resources, but many of those ideas may not be enough.”

Hannon surveys a range of ideas, such as a congressional bipartisan effort to incentivize more Americans to claim their Social Security benefits later in order to increase their retirement security with larger monthly benefits. The article also quotes Shai Akabas, director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, who said, “Not everyone has the luxury of deciding when to claim Social Security benefits. For some, the choice is made for them, due to financial stresses or health care needs,” adding, “Notably, these challenges are faced more often by people of color and those with less education.” 

Key Stats: “Consider this: the median 401(k)/IRA account balance for working households approaching retirement (ages 55–64) was $144,000 in 2019, which could dole out slightly more than $500 per month in income during retirement, according to researchers from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. For lower-income households that are less likely to have access to retirement savings plans through their employers, the retirement readiness gap is even more grim: The median account balance is only $32,200 for those who do have a 401(k).” 

“Decisions about retirement assume a freedom to retire or work as someone pleases,” Teresa Ghilarducci, a professor of economics and policy analysis at the New School for Social Research, told Yahoo Finance. “Most people retire before they are ready because of being pushed out, laid off, forced out because of health, or to take care of a spouse or parent.” 

Raising the Age: Hannon goes on to report that Senators Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Angus King, I-Maine, are reportedly proposing “raising the full retirement age to 70 from 67, while others are putting forward the concept of changing the way the benefits formula works for Social Security by using the number of years working and paying into the program instead of the current average earnings over 35 years.”

But: She stresses, though, “The possibility of raising the full retirement age to 70 as Cassidy and King reportedly are knocking around, however, ignores the reality that while current workers anticipate they will retire at 66, according to Gallup’s annual Economy and Personal Finance survey, the average retirement age is currently 61. Over the years, retirees’ reported retirement age has been about five years younger than non-retirees’ expected retirement age, according to the researchers. That’s largely because life events dictate retirement age for many.” 

* Alert on Yahoo! News: While Kerry Hannon is a legitimate senior-level columnist for Yahoo, we spotted another Yahoo-distributed story containing an egregious error. The piece, “With Social Security Funds Running Out, Experts Seek Solutions from Everyday Americans,” (March 22, 2023) by the London-based business-finance writer Vance Cariaga falsely states that when Social Security faces possible insolvency, according to the trustees, “the program will have to get all its funding from payroll taxes, which currently cover only 20%-25% of benefits.” Actually, the opposite it true – current payroll taxes cover 75%-80% of benefits.

How could Yahoo let such a bonehead mistake get on the wire? It turns out that although the piece was distributed by Yahoo!, it actually came from, an affiliated site – not Yahoo News at all! Is there an editor in the house?

*** “Breast Cancer Costs Linger for Many Women as Medicare Falls Short,” by Patricia Anstett, Detroit Free Press (March 30, 2023): 

The Lede: “Devastated, tired and still in some pain after a mastectomy and radiation last fall, Jacqueline Abdelmeguid lives wondering how long it will take to regain her health. Hopefully it’s soon. But she fears it will take her years to pay the medical bills that keep coming, perhaps for the rest of her life, just to make sure her breast cancer doesn’t return. She holds up her phone and scrolls through her Corewell Health medical chart to show a note in cursive telling her: You owe $4,122,89.”

“’I skip over it real quickly because it makes me sad,’ said Abdelmeguid, 65, who is on unpaid medical leave from her 30-year Postal Service job. She owes two months’ rent on the Oak Park home where she lives with her husband, a recent immigrant from Egypt, two daughters and her grandson, 15.” 

The Nutshell: “Older women who, like Abdelmeguid, struggle with the financial burden from their breast cancer care, are a poorly recognized part of a serious American health care problem that leaves millions of Medicare recipients with out-of-pocket expenses that strain and even bankrupt them. Many are shocked to find their Medicare insurance — including popular Part C and D plans — can leave them financially vulnerable for thousands of dollars in co-pays for medicines, doctor visits and hospitalization.” 

The Research: “Some people think, ‘Oh, you’ve got Medicare. It’s a get-out-of-jail-free card.’ But it’s not,” said Dr. Reshma Jagsi, an Emory University radiation oncologist among the first researchers to study financial problems among breast cancer patients, in a large study in 2014 in Detroit and Los Angeles.

“Only 1%  of the U.S. population, some 350,000 who are 65 or older, have no Medicare coverage, including many undocumented immigrants. About 9% of Medicare’s 61 million current beneficiaries have only the barest of coverage, and are faced with large medical debts if they develop chronic problems requiring more doctor visits, prescription medicines and testing. But a six-month investigation of older women with breast cancer, a project funded through three national organizations, found breast cancer patients with more comprehensive Medicare plans struggling to pay bills, relying on strained financial assistance programs.”

*** “‘We’re teetering on the edge.’ Are Medicaid rates making it harder to age at home?” by Annmarie TimminsNew Hampshire Bulletin (March 22, 2023): 

The Lede: “Instead of living in nursing facilities, nearly 3,800 Granite Staters are in their own homes and communities thanks to the help they receive with basic needs like bathing, transferring from a wheelchair to bed, managing medications, making meals, and getting to medical appointments. Approximately 600 of them risk losing that care in July if the state doesn’t increase what it’s paying providers through the Medicaid-funded Choices for Independence (CFI) program . . . , for people who want to age at home and qualify for Medicaid. The heads of Ascentria Care Alliance and Waypoint of New Hampshire . . . , said they will leave the program in July if lawmakers do not increase their Medicaid payments.”

In a Nutshell: “Their rate requests far exceed the 3.1 percent increase Gov. Chris Sununu has proposed in his two-year budget. Their departure would leave their clients few options; the state has a massive shortage of direct care workers, and long-term care nursing facilities are full.”

In Fact: “Even with fundraising and temporary American Rescue Plan money, Ascentria and Waypoint  said they can’t pay their direct care workers more than $13.50 an hour, so little that in 2020, 32 percent of those in New Hampshire relied on some kind of public assistance, according to PHI, a national policy organization focused on elder care and disability services. . .  Amy Moore, director of in-home care at Ascentria, said it has become so hard to recruit staff at that salary that her agency is turning down 100 client referrals a month.”

Who Cares: “A 2021 federal lawsuit against the state Department of Health and Human Services alleges it paid for only 55 percent of the services it approved for CFI clients in 2018 and 2019. New Hampshire Legal Assistance, Disability Rights Center – New Hampshire, AARP Foundation, and the Nixon Peabody law office, who brought the case on behalf of four plaintiffs, have asked a judge to certify it as a class action lawsuit.”

Why: “Jake Leon, spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said there are a number of reasons why CFI participants do not receive all their authorized services. . . The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute identified additional reasons in a 2022 analysis. The workforce shortage was a big one but not the only one. Determining financial eligibility for Medicaid can be very complex, it said. There can be long waits for documentation and approval. . .  Between 2011 and 2021, the CFI providers would have received an additional $153.2 million had the state adjusted their Medicaid rates for inflation the same way it did for nursing home services, the institute found.”

The Journalists Network on Generations (JNG), founded in 1993, publishes Generations Beat Online News ( JNG provides information and networking opportunities for journalists covering generational issues, but not those representing services, products or lobbying agendas. Copyright 2023 JNG. For more information contact GBO Editor Paul Kleyman. 

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