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

Massachusetts Estate Planning Tips | The Impact of the Fiscal Cliff Deal on Seniors and Boomer

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Mon, Jan 21, 2013

The American Tax Payer Relief Act: It's complicated but It Affects Everyone - Especially Boomers and Seniors  

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 was actually passed by the Senate in at 2:00 am on January 1, 2013. After speculation on whether Speaker Boehner would bring the bill to a vote or if the House would add amendments likely be rejected by the Senate, the House eventually passed the bill at 10:45 p.m. President Obama signed it the next day.  

The bill addresses the Bush-era tax rates, estate and gift tax rates, Medicare reimbursement, among numerous other issues.

TAX RATES 

The bill permanently extends current tax rates for individuals earning less than $400,000 and couples earning less than $450,000. Those earning more will see an increase from 35% to 39.6%. Wealthy folks will see an increase from 15% to 20% on capital gains and dividends. Individuals earning above $250,000, and married couples earning more than $300,000, will see a phase-out of the personal exemption.     

ESTATE TAX 

The estate tax exemption will remain $5.12 million per person, but will be adjusted for inflation. The top rate will grow from 35% to 40%. Portability's extended, as well, and the gift tax exemption will remain at $5 million.   

PAYROLL TAX  

This tax, which funds Social Security, has been at 4.2% since 2011, but will now revert back to the previous of 6.2%.  

OLDER AMERICAN FUNDING 

Funding has been increased for the Older Americans Act and similar programs. This year only, Area Agencies on Aging will receive an additional $7.5 million, and Aging and Disability Resource Centers an additional $5 million.  

The National Center for Benefits and Outreach Enrollment will receive an additional $5 million, and Medicare State Health Insurance Programs will receive an additional $7.5 million.  

There is also a provision that prevents the scheduled 27% reimbursement cuts to Medicare physicians this year.  

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique education and counseling approach 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 to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your beneficiaries, digital assests, Estate Plan and legacy

 

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

Tags: Massacusetts Estate Tax, Health Care, family, seniors, estate tax, health Care act, Alzheimers Disease, tax, Attorney

Massachusetts Medicare Attorney | Medicare Settlement Benefits For Some

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Nov 02, 2012

Last week, Medicare agreed to expand its benefits for some people with chronic disease, including many elderly. This added care, which came in a settlement of a lawsuit brought by a Vermont woman named Glenda Jimmo, the Center for Medicare Advocacy, and others is potentially very important for some Medicare beneficiaries.

But the settlement does not affect long-term care benefits in any way. Medicare did not pay for nursing home care, home health aides, or other long-term care services before this lawsuit, and it will not do so now.  Additionally, the case has no impact on Medicaid.  The benefits and eligibility rules for Medicaid remain unchanged.senior, medicare, medicaid, long term care

Yes, this agreement will make it easier for some people who are receiving long-term care to also get skilled nursing care or physical therapy, but it will not require Medicare to pay for any long-term services or supports

Still, many people are confused about Medicare benefits for those with chronic disease and are uncertain about the applicability of this case. People are asking whether this settlement means their mom can now get Medicare long-term care benefits. The simple answer is: No.

That is not to say the settlement is not important. For years, many home health agencies and skilled nursing facilities have interpreted Medicare rules to mean the program would not pay for rehab if a patient is not getting better. 

Imagine, for example, an 80-year old named Fred suffers a stroke. There has been no question that Medicare could pay for Fred's physical or occupational therapy. However, the rules have been unclear, and many providers have taken the position that Medicare would only pay as long as Fred's condition improves as a result of this skilled care.

The rules were vague, and Medicare has sometimes argued that providers misunderstood them. Still, many service providers, who feared Medicare auditors would demand repayment for ineligible services, were reluctant to provide rehab or skilled nursing unless a patient met this “improvement standard.”

Under the terms of the legal settlement, a patient's condition no longer needs to improve to be eligible for skilled nursing care and rehab. She will now be eligible for the Medicare benefit even if that care helps her maintain her health status. As long as skilled care is deemed necessary by a health professional based on an individual assessment, maintenance therapy would now be a Medicare benefit.

It is also important to remember that the settlement does not increase the number of days skilled nursing care is provided after a hospitalization. It remains a maximum of 100 days per benefit period.

The agreement must still be approved by the judge before it is final, however, the federal government will begin implementing the agreement right away, though the process could take many months.

It is long past time for Medicare to clarify this issue, and it could even end up saving the program money since ongoing therapy might keep a patient out of the hospital. However, don’t be confused: This agreement does nothing to expand long-term care benefits.

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

To gain free online access to the Complete Alzheimer's Resource Kit, which contains care tips as well as other useful information on Alzheimer’s disease, please visit www.BostonMemoryLawyer.com.Alzheimer's, dimentia, nursing home, long-term care

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.

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

Tags: health care proxy, Estate Planning, Alzheimer's Disease, Medicaid, family, health Care act, Health Care Ruling, caregiver

Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney | Medicare Disenrollment

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Wed, Oct 31, 2012

Earlier in the week we covered the timelines and procedures for Medicare Enrollment.  Today we will focus our blog on the timelines and procedures for disenrolling from Medicare Advantage Plans.

Voluntary Disenrollment

A person may choose to end his or her membership in a Medicare Advantage plan for any reason, but only during one of the election periods- annual, MADP, or special. Beginning in 2012, a person may disenroll from an MA plan to enroll in one of the Medicare-rated "five-star" plans at any time of the year. An individual who wishes to voluntarily disenroll should write a letter or complete a disenrollment form and send it to 'his or her plan's customer service department. The date of one's disenrollment depends on when the plan receives the written request to disenroll. In general, written requests to disenroll must be received by the Medicare Advantage pl an no later than the tenth of the month to be effective the first of the following month. Written requests to disenroll that are received after the tenth of the month will be effective the second month after the request is received.

An exception to this general rule is that disenrollment requests received between November 1 and November 10 are usually effective ·December I. However, because the month of November is also the annual election period, one can ask for a January I effective date.

Even though a person has requested disenrollment, he or she must continue to receive all covered services from the plan's contracting medical providers until the date the disenrollment is effective. The individual will be covered by Original Medicare after this, unless he or she has joined another Medicare Advantage plan.

Note that other factors are also involved in voluntary disenrollment. For instance, consider a Medicare beneficiary whose first Medicare enrollment was in a Medicare Advantage program, and within the first 12 months of coverage, decides to disenroll from the program and enro ll in Original Medicare. In this situation, he or she has 63 days to purchase any Medicare supplement plan (within the scope of the plans that the carrier offers) on a guaranteed basis.

Also, a person may have originally enrolled in Original Medicare and a Medicare supplement program, then decided to switch to Medicare Advantage- and then decided to switch back to Original Medicare. In this case, the individual may, within 12 months after that decision, go back to Original Medicare and the same Medicare supplement offered by the same MS carrier as before, if he or she has been in the Medicare Advantage plan for less than a year. A problem that may arise involves Part D coverage. If an enrollee decides to use the one-year guarantee to switch out of Medicare Advantage, CMS rules require the enrollee to complete a standalone Part D application and mark the "Special Election Period" box that appears in the "Office Use Only" portion of the application to disenroll from the prescription drug program. CMS will then use the SEP on the Part D application to begin the process for the MA disenrollment and return the applicant to Original Medicare. (This SEP procedure is also available when enrolling into an MA plan when receiving Medicaid assistance or when applying for Medicare disability at any time during the year.)

An individual may voluntarily disenroll during the MADP period (January I through February 14) by writing or calling his or her plan (or calling 1-800-Medicare), but a written request for disenrollment may be required. The MA company must provide a disenrollment notice within seven days of receiving the request. If the (dis)enrollee wants to return to Original Medicare and obtain a Medicare supplement policy, the Medicare supplement company will require that the new applicant complete the MA questions on the Medicare supplement application and that he or she send a copy of his or her MA plan disenrollment notice, a copy of the letter that he or she sent to his or her MA plan requesting disenrollment, or a signed statement verifying that he or she has requested to be disenrolled from his or her MA plan. If an individual is disenrolling after the February 14 date, a copy of the applicant's MA plan disenrollment notice will be necessary.

Involuntary Disenrollment

A Medicare Advantage plan cannot disenroll a member for any health-related reasons. However: a member in a Medicare Advantage plan may be, or must be, disenrolled from the plan for any of the following reasons:

  • permanently moving out of the service area;

  • temporarily moving out of the service area for an uninterrupted absence of more than six months;

  • losing entitlement or discontinuing enrollment in either Part A or Part B Medicare benefits or failing to pay Part B premiums as required;

  • filing false or deliberately misleading information during enrollment;

  • exhibiting disruptive behavior (the plan must first receive permission from CMS to disenroll for this reason);

  • allowing someone other than the enrollee to use the plan membership card;

  • failing to pay plan premiums after the plan has notified the enrollee that he or she has a 90-day grace period during which the enrollee can pay the premiums; or

  • dying.

To learn more about protecting your home, spouse, and life savings from increasing medical and nursing home costs register to attend one of our free, educational workshops by clicking the image below or by calling (800) 964-4295.  Seating is limited and workshops do fill, registration is required.

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You can also learn more by reading our new Seniors Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty.  This guide reveals crucial information smart Americans must know regarding health care reform and how to protect what matters most, your spouse, home, and life savings.  The guide also includes secret steps being taken by families all over the country to avoid nursing home poverty.  Request your copy while supplies last by click the image below!

nursing home, asset protection, health care

Tags: asset protection, Health Care, elder care, assisted living, health Care act, dementia, care, Attorney, Alzheimer's, disenrollment

Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney | Are Loneliness and Isolation Health Risks for Seniors?

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Tue, Aug 28, 2012

We found this article intersting and informative. Origianlly from Forbes.com - http://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardkrooks/2012/08/23/social-interaction-study-highlights-loneliness-and-isolation-as-heath-risks-for-elders/ , the article details a study which showed the effect of isolation on Seniors. 

Social Interaction Study Highlights Lonliness & Isolation as Health Risks for Seniors

To reduce the stress of uncertainty, elder law addresses the financial, medical and legal concerns that accompany aging. It’s about ensuring that your preferences are respected, preparing for life’s uncertainties and reducing family stress. A study from the University of California, San Francisco, which examined how social interaction can impact quality of life in the elderly found that a sense of loneliness and isolation can lead to a decline in physical health, and in some cases, even early death.

elder law, elder care, health care, familySome 1,604 participants, all age 60 and older, were contacted by gerontologists every two years between 2002 and 2008. More than 43 percent of respondents reported that they were sometimes lonely. Follow-up research found that members of the self-identified “sometimes lonely” segment were 45 percent more likely to die during the six-year period than those who reported that they were satisfied with the sense of connection in  their relationships, and were 59 percent more at risk for physical decline, measured as performing daily living tasks, including bathing, dressing and eating.

Reducing social isolation for elders is critical to improve their quality of life, though it’s not just an issue for the elderly. A large segment of the US population is facing a known health risk – and the fallout from that risk affects family members, communities, care givers and others.

Health professionals have long known that loneliness and social isolation directly affect older people’s physical and mental health. Even in highly populated urban areas, there are elderly-rich communities where members are living alone and suffering from a lack of social interaction.  Some 30 percent of Americans age 65 and above live alone, but the rate is significantly higher, approximately 53 percent, for older New York residents in public housing.

While many seniors are well-versed when it comes to steps to take to prepare financially for retirement and potential long-term care, there is still a pervasive lack of awareness about how social groups and a sense of community can change as people age.

Other research targeting the social effects of loneliness and isolation have also shown dramatic health risks. A 2008 study from the University of Chicago found that chronic loneliness is a health risk factor comparable to smoking, obesity and lack of exercise, and contributes to a suppressed immune system, high blood pressure and increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. A study out of Cornell in early 2012 concluded that loneliness can increase the risk of heart disease by producing changes in the body which mimic the aging process.

Though more research is needed to clearly define the link that connects social factors and health, more mainstream physicians are beginning to view their elderly patients’ health concerns beyond what can be found in classic lab results.

 

Click Here to Download the Seniors  Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding  Nuring Home Poverty

 

Elder law is about more than money. When viewed properly, elder law is about two major things. First, ensuring that your personal wishes—financial, medical, and legal—are carried out; and second, understanding that elder law is a family matter affecting an intricate web of individual relationships. Knowing that your potential long-term care needs have already been addressed frees you and your family from needless worry.

 

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates, we help people and their families concerned with losing their homes and life savings to increasing medical and nursing home costs, taxes and the costs and time delays of probate. We also protect clients from losing control of their own health and financial decisions. We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops to learn more about our process and what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy. To register for a seat at an upcoming workshop call (800) 964-4295 (24/7) or register online at www.SeniorWorkshop.com

Tags: Alzheimer's Disease, Elder Law, Nursing Homes, Health Care, durable power of attorney, family, elder care, assisted living, health Care act

Long Term Care and College Debt | Boston Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Thu, Aug 16, 2012

There are many dangers associated with grandparents paying for a grandchild’s college education if they haven’t planned for long term care first.  That payment may not be subject to gift tax laws but will be subject to a Medicaid transfer penalty. senior, student

However, there is another disturbing trend that is hitting seniors hard and it is a growing problem. As the cost of college education continues to soar so does the amount of student loan debt, now totaling over $1 trillion.  Almost 90% of that is from federal student loans and the federal government is getting more aggressive in pursuing repayment.  Changes in the laws have given the government more ability to collect from defaulting borrowers.  Student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy, unlike credit card debt, for example.


The government, under a 1996 law, has the ability to collect the debt from Social Security retirement and disability checks and it is doing just that with increasing frequency.  In the year 2000 there were 6 cases in which Social Security recipients checks were reduced to cover college loans on which they were delinquent.  In 2007 that number was 60,000 and in the first 7 months of 2012 that number was up to 115,000.


For many seniors on fixed incomes reducing their Social Security checks, which in many cases are already meager, will have a devastating impact.  In many cases parents and grandparents have cosigned loans for their children and grandchildren.  If the primary borrower defaults on the loan, the lender can collect from the cosigner.


With statistics showing that many baby boomers are not saving enough for retirement and the cost of long term care continuing to climb, adding college debt to the equation just adds to the complexity of the problem.  This is yet another example of why you can’t wait until a medical crisis hits to figure out how you will pay for long term care - Your physical and financial well being depend on it.

Gain instant free online access to “Seniors’ Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty”, which contains information on how Massachusetts Seniors will be impacted by the Affordable Care Act.

Click Here to Download the Senior & Boomers Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding  Nursing Home Poverty

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates, we help people and their families concerned with losing their homes and life savings to increasing medical and nursing home costs, taxes and the costs and time delays of probate. We also protect clients from losing control of their own health and financial decisions.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops to learn more about our process and what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy. To register for a seat at an upcoming workshop call (800) 964-4295 (24/7) or register online at www.SeniorWorkshop.com

Tags: long term care, Baby Boomers, gift tax, social security, Medicaid, Retirement, health Care act, student loans

What Does the Health Care Ruling Mean for Seniors on Medicare? | Boston Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Aug 03, 2012

"The New Health Care Ruling  is great news for seniors on Medicare,” according to Paul Nathanson, executive director of the National Senior Citizens Law Center, a nonprofit advocacy group, said after the Supreme Court issued its ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act. This was reported recently in the New York Times by Paula Span who reports more on a recent  study is available at  GlobalAging.org.

medicare doctor


Because several key provisions involving Medicare kicked in soon after Congress passed the bill in 2010, many beneficiaries won’t see big changes in their coverage now. But those improvements could have evaporated had the law been overturned, so the ruling generated sighs of relief among advocacy organizations for older adults.


This means the annual free wellness exam will continue (about 2.2 million people took advantage of it last year, according to AARP), along with the first “Welcome to Medicare” visit, which will remain free, with no out-of-pocket costs.

A number of preventive services, including mammograms, bone scans and depression and diabetes screenings, used to involve deductibles and co-pays; under the Affordable Care Act, they no longer do.

And the gradual closing of the dread “doughnut hole” gap in Part D drug coverage by 2020 will proceed, bolstered by discounts that have already lowered drug costs. “The average Medicare beneficiary will continue to save an average $650 a year,” Max Richtman, who leads the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, said in Thursday’s teleconference. “That’s real money, especially for seniors.”

On the long-term care front, the court’s action preserves several initiatives advancing efforts to support elderly and disabled people in their homes, rather than in nursing homes.

Several are already under way, including the Community First Choice Option, which assists states with the costs of in-home programs for people who would otherwise be institutionalized, and the Balancing Incentive Program, which increases federal matching Medicaid funds in states with less coverage for home and community services.

And starting in 2014, the Affordable Care Act will help husbands and wives hold onto more of their assets if a spouse must spend down to qualify for Medicaid.

Provisions that strengthen efforts to cut Medicare abuse and fraud will survive as well. And if the economics work as the Obama administration planned — a fairly big if — Medicare as a whole stays solvent longer.

One murky question concerns Medicaid, and the court’s ruling that states that don’t agree to expand their coverage can’t be penalized by losing their current financing. This could affect millions of people, but “we’re not exactly sure of all the ramifications,” Mr. Nathanson acknowledged.

Many states might agree to the expansion anyway, said Kevin Prindiville, deputy director of the National Senior Citizens Law Center. “The states get a great deal,” he said. “The feds pick up most of the costs.”

Amid the general applause from advocates for the elderly, several leaders said they foresaw ongoing Medicaid tussles with Congress and state governments. But for now, they were all smiles.

“A great win,” Mr. Prindiville said. “The act is going to improve health for seniors in a variety of ways.

 

For more information, you can gain free online access to the “Seniors’ Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty” which contains secret benefits revealed by the Affordable Care Act.

Click Here to Download the Senior & Boomers Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding  Nursing Home Poverty

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates, we help people and their families concerned with losing their homes and life savings to increasing medical and nursing home costs, taxes and the costs and time delays of probate. We also protect clients from losing control of their own health and financial decisions.

 We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops to learn more about our process and what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy. To register for a seat at an upcoming workshop call (800) 964-4295 (24/7) or register online at www.SeniorWorkshop.com.

 



Tags: Medicare, Health Care, Beneficiary, elder care, seniors, health Care act, Health Care Ruling

One Bonus of the New Healthcare Law | Boston Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Tue, Jul 24, 2012

Many of us thought the recent Supreme Court ruling pretty much ended the debate over the new healthcare law. But we were wrong. Speaker John Boehner is planning a House vote this week to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka "Obamacare."healthcare act, senior citizens, elder law

Some have called the ACA a tax increase. But I think this legislation will make a big difference in the lives of millions of Americans. And it's already saving seniors, families, and small businesses a lot of money.

The bill's detractors want to remove many sections that help protect consumers. That could mean taking away the $3.7 billion that seniors in the Medicare prescription-drug "donut hole" have already saved. It could mean ending coverage for 6.6 million people under 26 years old who are now on their parents' insurance plans. It could mean taking away health-insurance tax credits for small businesses. And it could mean, as well, allowing insurance companies to over-charge or deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

For more information, you can gain free online access to the “Seniors’ Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty” which contains secret benefits revealed by the Affordable Care Act.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates, we help people and their families concerned with losing their homes and life savings to increasing medical and nursing home costs, taxes and the costs and time delays of probate. We also protect clients from losing control of their own health and financial decisions.

We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops to learn more about our process and what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy. To register for a seat at an upcoming workshop call (800) 964-4295 (24/7) or register online at www.SeniorWorkshop.com

Register NOW and receive a free Unique Self-Guided 19-Point Trust, Estate, & Asset Protection Legal Guide with accompanying DVD, absolutely free.

Tags: Nursing Home Costs, Nursing Homes, Health Care, health Care act

Healthcare Act Part Two | Boston Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Fri, Jul 20, 2012

It's going to take a while - perhaps until the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) is implemented in 2014 - to really see how things shake out. And to really understand the costs. health care act

Take Medicaid, for example. The ACA had originally mandated that states wishing to participate in the new joint federal-state program must adopt expanded Medicaid eligibility and coverage standards. However, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress can't penalize states choose not to expand Medicaid. As a result, states won't lose their existing Medicaid funds if they don't comply with the new standards.

It does seem reasonable to assume, though, that expanded eligibility and coverage standards will help many seniors who are unable to work because of a disability...and who sometimes have to make the horrible choice between eating and paying for their medications.

Some provisions that could help include...

  • Coverage of certain preventive services in all new health plans.
  • Reduction of the Medicare prescription-drug donut hole at first...then elimination of it in 2020. 
  • Beginning next year, the federal government will provide financial incentives to states offering preventive-care coverage under Medicaid. And patients won't have to pay anything for some things. 
  • Starting in 2014, individuals and small businesses (up to 100 employees) will be able to purchase coverage (including Medicaid and CHIP programs) through state exchanges. 
  • As of 2014, there will no longer be annual limits on coverage or guaranteed coverage. The phrase "pre-existing conditions" will be permanently erased from the elder-care dictionary. Applicants will be "rated" based only upon their age, geographic area, family history, and whether they've smoked - nothing else. And this will be true whether you're purchasing insurance individually, from the state exchanges, or from your (small-business) employer. 

Despite all this, however, it would be a (major!) mistake to assume that all Medicare beneficiaries and disabled seniors will benefit from ACA. For example, starting next year, the threshold for itemized deductions for unreimbursed medical expenses increases from 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI) to 10 percent (except if you're over 65...at least until 2016).

It's all very confusing...even to many of the legislators who voted on it! For more information on the ACA, download our complimentary “Seniors’ Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty”.

At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates, we help people and their families concerned with losing their homes and life savings to increasing medical and nursing home costs, taxes and the costs and time delays of probate. We also protect clients from losing control of their own health and financial decisions.

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.

Register NOW for a Trust, Estate, & Asset Protection Workshop

and receive a free Unique Self-Guided 19-Point Trust, Estate, & Asset Protection

Legal Guide with accompanying DVD

Nursing home care is more than $140,000-$180,000 per year! Attend this FREE educational seminar to learn:

  • How to protect your home and assets from the costs of long-term care
  • How to stay out of the nursing home and access in-home care
  • How to make sure your spouse is not left financially ruined if you need nursing home care
  • How to access Veterans benefits to pay for long-term care

       To register or call (800) 964-4295 (24/7) or online at www.SeniorWorkshop.com

Tags: Elder Law, Medicare, Medicaid, Nursing Homes, Health Care, elder care, seniors, elder care journey, health Care act

The Affordable Care Act | Boston Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Mon, Jul 16, 2012

The Supreme Court ruling upholding most of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) will offer some interesting benefits to seniors with disabilities, or on Medicare. But that doesn't mean, however, there won't be any more hurdles to jump.

Healthcare Act

There are still some things we don't know - especially regarding costs - before we can breathe easier.

With the current system so badly broken, it's hard to envision ACA as a panacea for every problem. But there's no doubt it can benefit Medicare recipients, who will now receive preventive care coverage and smaller donut holes.

But, again, until we know more about costs, it's hard to project an accurate picture. For example, we still don't know exactly how ACA will address the problem of pre-existing conditions.

What we do know is that every American will be required to have health coverage starting in 2014.

Insurers are already required to provide coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. Starting in two years, they'll have to cover everyone with a pre-existing condition. In addition, lifetime pay-out limits will be eliminated.

Seniors who receive SSDI benefits must now wait two years to become eligible for Medicare. Many end up losing their health insurance during this period, and are unable to obtain new insurance because of pre-existing conditions...or high costs.

PCIPs (Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans) currently provide insurance to people with pre-existing conditions who can't get coverage elsewhere. However, participation has been lower than expected. And costs have been higher than expected. The average participant still has to lay out $29,000 this year - more than double what was expected.

However, the state exchanges mandated by the new law will afford more choices, and will also tell seniors whether they're eligible for Medicaid or other reduced-cost insurance programs.

As is already the case in Massachusetss, ACA will actually penalize for people without coverage, starting at $95 per adult in 2014, and increasing for the next two years. After 2016, cost-of-living adjustments will be applied.

Sound confusing? You ain't seen nothin' yet! Wait until two years from now, when everybody's trying to figure out every provision of this new act. Actually, though, there's only one person who can really figure it out - an Elder Law attorney. We are working with colleagues from around the country to provide helpful information to people and families about the landmark change.

For more information, you can gain free online access to the “Seniors’ Guide to Health Care Reform & Avoiding Nursing Home Poverty” which contains secret benefits revealed by the Affordable Care Act.

The ACA isn't easy to understand. It's a combination of medical jargon and legalese. (And it certainly hasn't eliminated the need to plan ahead for long-term care.)

As Elder Law Attorneys at the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center of Dennis Sullivan & Associates, we help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones.  We provide clients with a unique educational and counseling approach 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 to learn more about our process and what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy. To register for a seat at an upcoming workshop call (800) 964-4295 (24/7) or register online at www.SeniorWorkshop.com.

We know every step of the Elder Law Journey. And we're just a phone call away. 

Tags: Elder Law, Medicare, Medicaid, Nursing Homes, Health Care, elder care, seniors, elder care journey, health Care act

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