Massachusetts Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Is your Planning Stuck in Limbo? (part 2)

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Tue, Aug 01, 2017

How does the debate over health care reform affect you and your estate plan?

35274856603_c2af85ca10_b.jpg In our last post we discussed the importance of keeping up with the constant changes happening in health care reform. We will continue to examine how the on-going deliberations in Washington may affect you, your future health care and your estate.  We at Dennis Sullivan & Associates are keeping up to date on all the changes, and making sure you stay informed on all the important details.  For more information on the current law of the land, you can download our Report: Senior & Boomers Guide to Health Care Reform.   

The Senate has dealt a devastating setback to Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, defeating a GOP "skinny repeal" bill early Friday morning. With the "skinny repeal" bill off the table, lawmakers are unsure of where the health care debate is headed. 

Senate Majority Leader McConnell and his staff are trying to find a balance between conservative Republicans, who want a full repeal of ObamaCare and a replacement that has lower health care costs, and more moderate Republicans who want to preserve its more popular benefits.

The deal-making process is in full swing, with the additions of opioid funding and allowing health savings accounts to be used to pay for insurance premiums. Some Senators are for potentially leaving in some taxes to pay for more generous benefits, after weeks of being criticized by Democrats for offering “tax cuts for the rich and Medicaid cuts for the poor.” Conservatives want to cut more from the regulations and many from Medicaid expansion states are uneasy about future cuts to Medicaid.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has offered an amendment called the “Consumer Freedom Option” that would allow insurance companies to sell any health coverage plan they wish as long as they provide one plan that satisfies the “essential benefits” mandates of Obamacare. While the Cruz amendment appeals to conservatives who want to provide consumers with lower cost options, moderates are concerned it could negatively impact those with pre-existing conditions. Supporters have suggested that federal subsidies could help ensure that premiums don’t increase for those who are seriously ill. The CBO is currently scoring this amendment.  

President Trump, along with Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, has even offered to repeal ObamaCare for now and replace it later.

Of course, no one is going to get everything they want so there must be compromises. Majority Leader McConnell has said that if the Senate is not able to pass a bill soon, Congress will have to pass a bipartisan measure to shore up the imploding health insurance markets.

And so, the Civics lesson continues. The process is at work.  As we see here the process can be long, unstable and worrisome.  Luckily for you your estate planning doesn’t have be. We at Dennis Sullivan and Associates make your estate planning and asset protection worry and stress free.  Once you have a plan in place you will feel confident knowing it will protect you, your family and your life savings.  You can enjoy life to the fullest knowing you and your family are protected no matter what unknowns lay ahead. 

 

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.

Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: Affordable Health Care, Affordable Health Care Act, Announcements, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Financial Planning, Health Care, Health Care Ruling, Medicaid, Medicare, Obamacare, Retirement, applying for medicare, Medicaid penalties, care costs, care, coverage, coverages, disenrollment, elder care, enrollment, elder care journey, federal, health, health Care act, life-care plan, long term care, medicaid qualification, medical expenses, proposed changes, senior, unreimbured medical expenses, seniors

Is your Planning Stuck in Limbo?

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Thu, Jul 27, 2017

How does the debate over Health Care Reform affect you and your estate plan?

Everyone is talking about health care reform: whether it’s the House bill, Repeal & Replace, Skinny Repeal, it can make your head spin.  One question on everyone’s mind is how changes to health care will affect them.  We at Dennis Sullivan & Associates are keeping up to date on all the changes, and will cover the process through a series of blogs to explain where health care reform is now, how it affects you and what the future may hold.  For more information on the current law of the land, you can download our Report: Senior & Boomers Guide to Health Care Reform

 


Senate pic-1.jpg

Eventually, both the House and Senate must vote on the same bill.

The battle continues in Washington over the repeal or replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) and as we are witnessing; this can be a messy process. 

Why Republicans are trying so hard to repeal and replace ObamaCare and how they are going about it:

ObamaCare, you may remember, was passed by the Democrats in 2010 with no Republican support. Ever since, Republicans have campaigned on repealing the program, which was unpopular with many Americans. “Repeal and Replace” was their rallying cry to voters to help them win back control of the House in 2012, then the Senate in 2014, and finally the Presidency in 2016. If the Republicans are not able to fulfill this major promise, some may be in danger of losing their seats in the next election, as they would likely be blamed for the problems with ObamaCare if they don’t fix them. These are the political reasons.

Democrats admit that ObamaCare has problems and needs a major fix to survive. But they are not on board with repeal and replace of such a signature piece of legislation, while Republicans try to find a way to pass new legislation.

The Legislative process:

The normal legislative process is that a bill begins in the House, where it is written, discussed and approved by a committee before the House votes on it. If it passes the House, it is then sent to the Senate. The Senate can vote on the same bill, make amendments to the House bill, or create its own bill. Eventually, both the House and Senate must vote on the same bill, so if there are differences, members of both the House and Senate meet in committee to resolve them. Once a bill passes both the House and Senate, it is then sent to the President who can sign it into law or veto it.

Right now, there is a House bill on health care that has passed the House, and a Senate bill that has not passed the Senate. Discussions and amendments are still occurring with the Senate bill in hopes it will pass soon. The public posture is that this messy legislative process is making the bill better.

Further complicating this process is that while the Republicans have a majority in both the House and the Senate, they only have 52 Republican Senators. 60 votes are required to overcome the filibusters and pass new legislation, so they are attempting to pass health care legislation through the Budget Reconciliation process. It only requires 51 votes, but it limits the legislation to budget-related items only. They would not be able to include provisions some Republicans want in a full repeal and replace bill—for example, letting insurance companies sell across state lines to increase competition, lower prices and create better plans; and allowing the government to negotiate lower drug prices. Issues like these would have to be voted on later.

For the Senate bill to pass in Reconciliation, 50 Republicans must vote for the bill, since no Democrat or Independent is expected to vote for the bill. Vice-President Pence would break the tie if needed.

So far:

The Senate rejected a proposal from Republican lawmakers to repeal Obamacare on Wednesday July 26, 2017, marking a significant milestone in the Republican Party's years-long political crusade to gut former President Barack Obama's legacy health care law.

 

What does the future hold?

We aren’t sure what the future American Health Care Act is going to look like, not sure anyone does, but luckily protecting yourself and your loved ones from expensive long term care doesn’t have to be so uncertain.  With asset based long term care products, there are ways to insure your control over your future long term care and insure you have something left over for your spouse, children and loved ones. Don’t let your long term care plan sit in limbo. Stay tuned we will discuss more about what the future looks like in our next blog post.

 Click here for more information on  Estate Planning and Asset Protection

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.

If you would like more information on Medicaid, the Affordable Care, or the impact of new health care laws on your planning, request your free preview of our guide, the Senior & Boomers’ Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty. 

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.Click Here to Register For Our Trust, Estate & Asset  Protection Workshop

Tags: Affordable Health Care Act, Announcements, Dennis Sullivan, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Estate Planning Recommendations, Estate Planning Tip, Financial Planning, Health Care, Health Care Ruling, Medicaid, Medicaid penalties, Medicare, Obama, Obamacare, Retirement, care costs, coverage, unreimbured medical expenses, surviving spouse, senior, coverages, applying for medicare, elder care

Massachusetts Seniors Need to Know About Free Medicare Check-Ups

Posted by Wellesley Estate Planning Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Wed, Aug 17, 2011

The official handbook, "Medicare & You 2011," says that "Medicare covers two types of physical exams — one when you're new to Medicare and one each year after that." It describes these as the initial "Welcome to Medicare" physical exam and the yearly "wellness" exam.  Then why are some patients going to the doctors for the physical and leaving with a bill in excess of $400?

Until Jan. 1 this year, Medicare did not cover any routine exams except for the "Welcome to Medicare" exam for new beneficiaries. The Affordable Care Act created the once-a-year wellness visit as a new benefit.

Theese new check ups are not what people think however.  The check up considered by Medicare an "annual wellness visit" can be performed in just a few minutes, without the patient having to undress at all.  Typically, the doctor will measure the patient's height, weight, body mass and blood pressure — and perhaps listens to his heart through his clothes. The rest is a discussion of the patient's medical and family history. 

While doctors and patients are both thrilled Medicare is now paying for preventative check ups.  As was mentioned earlier in this post, patients are leaving their doctor's office thinking what they got was a free visit, paid for by Medicaid, and then receiving bills in excess of $400.  To be sure this doesn't happen to you, be 100% sure when talking to your doctor to tell them you only want the free Medicare check up and mention the billing code G0438.

Prevent Senior Health Issues

Doctors have said it is difficult to work a 45-minute wellness visit into an already overstretched schedule. They've been covering its elements for years in other ways, by working a discussion of preventive measures into a regular visit when examining a patient.  They also say that by avoiding a sedintary life style and making better choices at the dinner table, seniors can avoid many of the more serious and expensive health risks such as heart disease and diabetes.

To take steps to protect your spouse, home and life savings today register online to attend a free educational workshop hosted by Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq, CPA, LLM or by calling 800-964-4295 (24 hours a day).  You can also check out Free Elder Law Guides developed by the team of professional at Dennis Sullivan & Associates.  By planning now you can save you and your family the stress of having to worry about the future.

 

Tags: Elder Law, Medicare, Medicaid, Nursing Home Guide, Nursing Homes, Health Care, social security, assisted living, 2011, Announcements

The New Health Care Law and How It Will Affect Seniors

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Wed, Jan 19, 2011

These are unique times with all the changes in the tax and healthcare laws.  As such, people need to understand that the New Healthcare Law is not going to protect them, their spouse, home, or life savings from the high cost of nursing-home care.  That is completely UP TO YOU!

Today, nursing home care cost is upwards of $120,000 annually.  A heartbreaking diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can mean a prolonged nursing-home stay of up to ten years or more – translating to sometimes over a million dollars.  Who pays?  For Alzheimer’s, dementia, or health issues related to aging, government payments are only available after almost all the family’s assets have been completely depleted.  The result is a spouse and family may be left  with no home of their own and very little to live on.  For more information, feel free to download our Free Massachusetts Elder Care Guides.

So what does Obamacare provide?  The Patient Protection and Affordability Act and the Health Care Education and Reconciliation Act are collectively known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The ACA will expand health coverage for all Americans such that none of the guaranteed benefits under Medicare Part A and Part B is being cut.  In fact, many benefits are being improved.  However, households with higher incomes will be required to pay more for Medicare via the new higher Medicare tax.  In addition, those with higher incomes will also be subject to an unprecedented Medicare tax to be applied to unearned income (investment income, royalties, etc.).  Some of the provisions of the health care law will take affect immediately and some over the next several years.

The ACA has not eliminated the need for seniors requiring long-term care to plan ahead.  Planning ahead and applying for MassHealth (Massachusetts Medicaid) to pay for long-term care (in a nursing home or in the community) will still be necessary.  As a matter of fact, planning ahead is the only way for an individual or family to avoid becoming victims of nursing home poverty!  The government’s plan to provide for long-term care still be requires people to “spend down” their assets in order to qualify for assistance to pay the cost of a nursing home, which currently averages $10-$12,000 per month in Massachusetts.

On the plus side, a provision that will benefit seniors immediately is assistance with the Medicare Part D donut hole* (Medicare Part D coverage gap).  A $250 rebate will be paid to Medicare beneficiaries who hit the donut hole in 2010 (even by $1).  The first checks were distributed last June and will be sent periodically after that.  Seniors do not have to do anything to get their checks.  They will come automatically.  (Be cautious of scammers who may tell you that your checks can be obtained more quickly if you pay a fee.)  Beginning in 2011, once the “donut hole” is reached, there will be a 50% discount on brand-name prescription drugs and a 7% discount on generic prescription drugs.  By 2020, this “donut hole” will disappear, and Medicare beneficiaries will pay 25% of the cost until they reach the catastrophic* coverage level.

*The donut hole is the Medicare Part D coverage gap.  Once a Medicare beneficiary reaches the prescription drug coverage limit, the Medicare beneficiary is responsible for the entire cost of prescription drugs until expenses reach the catastrophic limit.  In 2011, this means costs above $2,840 in covered drug costs until you spend $4,550 out of pocket.  Catastrophic limit assures that once you have paid $4,550 out of pocket in drug costs for a calendar year, almost all your drug costs above that amount will be paid

 To learn more about how to plan ahead and your options to: protect your assets, protect your spouse, your savings, in-home care options, Veterans benefits, etc., attend one of our FREE workshops on The New Healthcare Law and How It Affects Seniors.  Attendance requires registration either by phone:  800-964-4295 (24hrs), or you may register online.  Please refer to our website for upcoming dates. 

 

Tags: Announcements, massachusetts estate planning strategies, Estate Planning, trusts, 2011, retirement plans, Protective Trusts, Estate Planning, Nursing Home Costs, Alzheimer's Disease, Elder Law, asset protection

Lifetime Protection Program Members Only Workshop: Long Term Care Options

Posted by Dennis Sullivan & Associates on Thu, Jun 10, 2010

The Estate Planning and Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates presents:

A family Lifetime Protection Program member only workshop on Wednesday, July 7th at 10 AM and 2 PM.  At the workshop, expert guest speakers will address critical long term care topics such as:

- How to Care For A Loved One With Alzheimer's Disease

- Why People Buy Long-Term Care Insurance

- Living Independently and Safely In Your Own Home

Long Term Care Options

Our special guest speakers include:

Ted Bickoff - Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist

Topics Include:

  • Free Home Safety Audit
  • Tips on how to live independently and safely in your own home
  • Pre-planning for accessibility
  • Useful home modifications for seniors

David Isaacson, CLU, ChFC, LIA - Senior Long-Term Care Specialist

Topics Include:

  • How to pay for care without running out of money
  • How to ease the burden (financially and emotionally) on your family as you age
  • How to obtain access to the quality care you deserve
  • How to maintain control, independence and peace of mind
Joanne Koenig Coste - International Consultant to Healthcare Providers; Advocate for AD Patients and their Families; Notes Author of "Learning to Speak Alzheimer's"

Topics Include:

  • Learning to Speak Alzheimer's
  • How to Care for loved ones with Alzheimer's Disease
  • Tips for living independently with Alzheimer's Disease
  • Expert advice for dealing with the emotional issues surrounding Alzheimer's Disease

To learn more about how you can avoid nursing home poverty and take control of your long term care planning, watch our videos on Massachusetts Nursing Home Planning.

Friends and family members of our lifetime protection program members are also welcome to attend!  Space is limited, so reserve your seat today at 800-964-4295. For more information about our Lifetime Protection Program, visit our website here. If you have any questions or for more information, feel free to call our office 781-237-2815

Tags: Announcements, Nursing Home Costs, Alzheimer's Disease

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