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We are dedicated to making Medicare's program work well for all beneficiaries. Your feedback from your own or your client's concerns and experiences with Medicare, will guide our Medicare advocacy efforts with key policy and decision-makers in both California and nationally with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Congress.

  • 24Nov











    Have you heard of #GivingTuesday? It’s a global day of giving back, and it falls on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year’s #GivingTuesday is Tuesday, December 2, 2014, and we at California Health Advocates join charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world in coming together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

    Where does #GivingTuesday come from, you may ask? The retail industry has long benefited from seasonal shopping that symbolically kicks off with “Black Friday”– a day that has since inspired “Small Business Saturday” and “Cyber Monday.” #GivingTuesday, then, serves as a celebratory, fully connected day to kick off the giving season, when many make their holiday and end-of year charitable gifts.

    #GivingTuesday brings together diverse networks of people, large corporations, small businesses and nonprofits across an ever-expanding range of new media platforms to encourage and amplify small acts of kindness in the service of changing our world for the better.

    #GivingTuesday is not a new giving platform, but a call to action to celebrate giving and encourage purposeful giving during the Holiday Season. It’s an organizing principle to encourage the creativity and energy of people all over the world to work for good.

    Please consider donating to CHA as a way to support our continual giving and service to our millions of California Medicare beneficiaries, their families and professionals advocating on behalf of the health care rights of elders.
    Thank you! And may you enjoy a wonderful season of giving and gratitude!
  • 10Sep

    In light of Women’s Equality Day on August 26th, one of our Northern California Social Security Public Affairs Specialists, Deogracias Santos published a short and informative article on some things women should know about Social Security and how to make the most of their entitled benefits. Enjoy and read below!


    By Deogracias Santos,

    Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in the Northern Area of California

    Women’s Equality Day is August 26, and this is the perfect time to remind you how much Social Security values and appreciates women. Even though men and women with identical earnings histories receive the same benefits, there are things women in particular should know about Social Security. There are trends and differences in lifestyle and patterns of earnings that can affect benefits.

    For example, some women may be caregivers for many people: spouses, children, and parents. Taking time away from the workplace to care for a newborn child, ailing spouse, or aging parent can have an impact on your future Social Security benefits.

    Also, despite significant strides through the years, women are more likely to earn less over a lifetime than men. In addition, women are less likely than men to be covered by private retirement plans, so they are more dependent on Social Security in their retirement years.

    Did you know that women tend to live on average about five years longer than men? This means more years depending on Social Security and whatever other retirement income or savings they accumulate.

    If a woman’s spouse earns significantly more than she does, it is very possible she will qualify for a larger benefit amount on the spouse’s record than on her own. To learn more, visit our Women’s page at and read, print, or listen to our publication, What Every Woman Should Know.

    You may also be interested in listening to Carolyn Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, on National Public Radio as she talks about women and money. Just visit

    To celebrate Women’s Equality Day, learn how Social Security treats men and women equally by visiting


  • 04Aug

    Yes, it’s the first full week in August and that means it’s also National Simplify Your Life week. Oftentimes, busy lives, full work schedules and long to-do lists, along with a multi-tude of technologies to help us get all these tasks organized and done, are a common theme for many. And while we may be up to great things and doing important service in the world, sometimes the complexities of life can feel burdensome, heavy and lead to stress and unhappiness. Simplifying our lives in a variety of ways can help bring back that natural element of levity, freedom, joy and exuberance that is always a part of our true inner nature. While there are many ways to simplify, one way to easily peal away from the hold of busy-ness and complexities and tap into our inner nature is to step outside.

    Nature is one of our greatest assets. Across the ages, we have read, known of many great poets, writers, artists, teachers, inventors that have gone out into nature for inspiration, clarity, and renewal. There is a reason why sages from spiritual traditions around the globe all come from the mountains to share their teachings. John Muir, a beloved writer and father of our National Park system shares that “the clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” He also says that “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to pray in and play in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”

    A hiker sits atop Trolltunga, or "troll's tongue," a famous rock formation in southwestern Norway. (Photo: Shutterstock)
















    In Norway, the 2nd happiest country on the planet according to UN rankings (U.S. is ranked 17th), they have a particular “simple” philosophy that greatly enhances their happiness and wellbeing. That is “friluftsliv”…while it may be a mouthful, and is not so easily translated into English, it literally means “free air life”. It refers to an uplifting ambience that arises from our outdoor dynamic relationship and enchantment with nature. Some Norwegians say this word describes a way of life that is spent exploring and appreciating nature. Their country’s population is small and their wild lands and mountains are all surrounding. Nature and ‘friluftsliv’, time exploring and appreciating nature,  is an integral part of people’s life in that country. It is a philosophy, a way of being that doesn’t require any technology or to-do lists, but instead is a willingness, a joyful curiosity and love of stepping outdoors to step into nature and into our inner nature. John Muir eloquently points to this when he says, “I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”

    So, from this year forward, let’s take the invitation of “National Simplify Your Life” week and step outdoors! This is one, easy, time-tested way to recover our natural joy and freeness and to remember and celebrate our integral connection to our greatest asset, Nature.


    This article was inspired, in part, by the article, How ‘Friluftsliv’ Can Help You Reconnect with Nature.

  • 16Jul

    One of our Social Security Public Affairs Specialists for Northern California, Deogracias Santos shares a fun article about how the online program, My Social Security, offers an easy way to add more simplicity to your life. And, with National Simplify Your Life week coming up in the first week of August, this is a great time to get a jump start on some simplicity! :)


    By Deogracias Santos

    Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in the Northern Area of California

    So many people buzz through extremely busy and complicated schedules these days. A smartphone in one hand, a computer in front of you, and a digital task list that never seems to end. In addition, to complicate things just a little more, there’s another event you need to add to your list—National Simplify Your Life week. This event takes place August 1 through 7. Put it on your calendar so you don’t forget!

    Most organized people agree that planning ahead is a great way to simplify your life. Whether you’re planning tomorrow’s schedule, next summer’s vacation, or your retirement.

    We have a suggestion that can help you simplify your life when it comes to Social Security. If you haven’t already (it’s probably on your task list), open your own personal my Social Security account.

    What’s my Social Security? It’s a free, secure, online account that allows you immediate access to your personal Social Security information. During your working years, you can use my Social Security to view your Social Security Statement to check your earnings record and see estimates of the future retirement, disability and survivor benefits you and your family may receive based on your earnings. If you already receive Social Security benefits, you can use my Social Security to check your benefit information, change your address and phone number, change your electronic payment methods, and even obtain a benefit verification letter. Check it out and sign up for my Social Security at

    After you check your online Social Security Statement, be sure to visit our Retirement Estimator. Like my Social Security, you can use it as many times as you’d like. The Retirement Estimator lets you compute potential future Social Security benefits by changing variables, such as retirement dates and future earnings. You may discover that you’d rather wait another year or two before you retire to earn a higher benefit. To get instant, personalized estimates of your future benefits just go to

    There are many tools at that are simple and convenient to use. Open a my Social Security account today by visiting and simplify your life.

  • 03Jul

    Here are a couple pictures of Paula Holden, our SMP Regional Liaison, and Dan Boutwell, the Rite Aid Wellness Ambassador, at last week’s Savvy Senior event in Northern CA. Paula and Dan worked together to form what is now a flourishing and expanding outreach partnership, called Health In Pharmacies (HIP). The HIP program involves volunteers with the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program and Senior Medicare Patrol (HICAP/SMP) and Rite Aid and Walgreens pharmacies around the state. HICAP/SMP volunteers set up outreach tables and offer free information on Medicare and Medicare fraud prevention in participating Rite Aid and Walgreens pharmacies on certain days of the month. Both Dan and Paula who have started this whole trend were at this outreach event last week and visited each other’s tables.

    Paula Holden, SMP Regional Liaison and Dan Boutwell, Rite Aid Wellness Ambassador

    The HIP program is spreading in both Northern and Southern California and currently is operating in at least 10  Rite Aid stores and  4 Walgreens stores. We are finalizing a HIP tool kit to help our partners get “hip” and start this HIP outreach in their own area. More info on that soon!

    Here’s an article about how this partnership all began: SMP Forms Fruitful Community Outreach Partnership with Local Pharmacy.

  • 02Apr

    The infographic below effectively highlights some of the failures of our own health care system. While the U.S. has some of the highest health care costs, it is not even ranked in the top 50 countries for life expectancy. This begs the important question of: “If all this money being spent is not being used to increase quality of life or life expectancy, then where is it going?”  The infographic, contributed by Best Nursing Masters, concludes with identifying some of the common traits found in the residents of countries with the highest life expectancy, and encourages people to turn away from looking for a “cure” for symptoms, and instead to focus on developing healthy lifestyles.

    Healthcare Spending

  • 19Mar

    It can be challenging for elders living on a fixed income to eat well. Yet, healthy nutrition is essential to prevent illness, and to maintain an active and independent life. The National Council on Aging recently put together 3 short videos on how to get help paying for food, ways to shop smart, and tips to make comfort foods healthier. Please view and share with your clients and loved ones.

    Elders with low-incomes, can also visit NCOA’s BenefitsCheckUp website to download their state’s application for food assistance.

  • 18Feb

    Where can people turn to get unbiased information about the quality of care provided by the thousands of doctors, hospitals, and long-term care providers in California? A new website,, is one good place to go. It was recently created as a one-stop resource to compare hospitals, medical groups, and long term care facilities. is the result of a partnership between the California Healthcare Foundation (CHCF) a non-profit philanthropy, and Consumer Reports and their commitment to ensure all Californians have access to better healthcare.

    Free and easy-to-use, the website features rating information on California hospitals, medical groups, nursing homes, and other long-term care facilities, and reviews a range of measures—such as patient experience, nursing home staffing levels, and hospital quality (including ER wait times). In addition, provides tips and checklists about how to choose a health care provider, questions to ask, how to pay for care, and what to do if something goes wrong.

    Because is not commercial, users can be assured:

    • The site is always be free and offer fully open access
    • The information is objective and unbiased
    • Users are not required to register or provide any contact information
    • Users will not be hounded by aggressive emails and phone calls
    • Users won’t see advertising or promotion of one provider over others

    Visit to see the ratings and find out more. If you’d like to help spread the word on this new resource, you can host a widget on your website.

    The California Healthcare Foundation is a non-profit philanthropy working to fulfill the promise of better health care for all Californians.

  • 08Jan

    People’s cost of living adjustments (COLAs) have arrived but you may have missed it…as it’s once again pretty small. This year’s 1.5% increase amounts to an average of an extra $19/month. This is the 4th year in the last 5 of little to no increase.

    Some Washington lobbyists believe that this small increase is still too generous and are advocating to change the current COLA formula to tie to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Yet, this would result in an immediate benefit cut for millions of people. Many advocates are urging Congress to instead adopt a fairer COLA formula called the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E). This formula would take elders’ higher health care costs into account when calculating the annual Social Security COLA.

    For more info, see the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare’s article: The CPI-E: A Better Option for Calculating Social Security COLAs.

  • 03Dec

    Have you heard of #GivingTuesday? It’s a great new initiative that proves the holidays can be about both giving and giving back. Happening today, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and Black Friday, #GivingTuesday creates a special call to action and a national day of giving to charitable organizations around the annual shopping and spending season to inspire giving every day.

    California Health Advocates is a #GivingTuesday partner, and we invite you to make a tax-deductible donation to CHA.

    California Health Advocates believes all people benefit from quality health care. Everyday we empower beneficiaries to make informed choices about their health care and policymakers to create a strong health care system that works because healthy people create a vibrant and giving world.

    Your gifts will help us continue our dedicated, quality services to California beneficiaries and policy makers and make this a more beautiful world.

    Read our testimonials to see what other have to say about us.

    Thank you!


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