The past weeks have seen some important developments in research and healthcare that may affect caregivers and the seniors they care for:

CLASS (almost) dismissed-Last week, according to Reuters, the CLASS Act was officially repealed by the House of Representatives. A component of the Affordable Care Act, the CLASS Act was meant to provide people with an affordable long-term care insurance option. The program was suspended indefinitely back in November due to its financial insolvency. In order for the act to be fully annulled, the Senate must also vote in favor of doing away with it and the President must sign off on the repeal. Stay tuned to see if the CLASS Act survives the Senate.

Filled donut saves seniors billions-The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that the Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D) gap is beginning to close. Medicare beneficiaries falling into the "donut hole" that exists between regular and catastrophic prescription coverage must currently foot the full cost of their prescriptions in addition to their monthly premiums. According to a CMS press release, Medicare beneficiaries saved $2.1 billion last year due to the plugging of the gap.

Government ups Alzheimer's research dollars-The Obama administration declared that it is setting aside an additional $50 million to fund Alzheimer's disease research in 2012. Another $26 million will go to helping increase public awareness of the disease and improve education and support for caregivers of people with Alzheimer's. According to a press release from the Department of Health and Human Services, an additional $80 million will be added to the budget for Alzheimer's research in 2013.

Nursing Homes Make Honor Roll-U.S. News and World Report just released their list of the top nursing homes in the country, putting them on the 2012 Honor Roll. 39 homes, out of the pool of 15,500 examined by U.S. News, made the final list. In order to make the Honor Roll, a nursing facility had to have garnered a five-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for all four quarters of 2011. CMS ratings are based on three main determiners of nursing home quality, nurse staffing, health inspections, and quality of care.


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Aspirin and Warfarin duke it out-New research from Columbia University, indicates that aspirin was just as effective as Warfarin when it came to reducing a heart failure patient's risk for death, brain hemorrhaging, and ischemic stroke. It was only after three years that researchers began to observe a difference between the two drugs, with Warfarin appearing to be more helpful in the long term. But, the results also showed that Warfarin was also more likely to cause significant bleeding episodes than aspirin was, making study authors conclude that aspirin might be the better blood thinner for people with normal heart rhythms who are suffering from heart failure. The study results were presented at the American Stroke Association's annual gathering and are still considered preliminary until published in a peer-review journal.