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.

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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 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.

trust, estate, asset protection, estate planning

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

Alzheimer's Researcher Has Alzheimer's | Massachusetts Elder Law Attorney

Posted by Massachusetts Estate Planning & Elder Law Attorney, Dennis B. Sullivan, Esq., CPA, LLM on Wed, Aug 15, 2012

What happens when a seeker of a cure for a dreaded disease becomes a victim of that disease?
 
It's the cruelest irony imaginable. A quest that moves out of the scientific and in to the personal. And a race against time.
 alzheimer's, estate planning
That's the situation in which Rae Lyn Burke finds herself.
 
Rae Lyn Burke is a noted researcher. After helping to develop vaccines for HIV, herpes, and hepatitis B, she turned her attention, in the 1990's, to a newly-emerging disease that had started claiming seniors at an alarming rate - Alzheimer's.
 
She helped develop an experimental drug called bapineuzumab, which helps clear the plaque in the brain that scientists believe can precipitate Alzheimer's. And her early work with mice was encouraging enough, in her mind, to presage beneficial applications for Alzheimer's patients.
 
Rae Lyn Burke didn't only "work" at a desk. She was a 24/7 thinking-machine, the kind of person whose mind never stopped; for example, she loved to play with numbers in her head while commuting. And it was while playing those games that she began to realize something was wrong.
 
In 2008, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Now - at the age of 64 - even the easiest math problems are impossible for her. And she struggles with simple household tasks.
 
Burke, however, is still searching for a cure for Alzheimer's... the only way she now can. Every three months she receives bapineuzumab... the drug she helped create.
 
She believes the drug is slowing the progress of her disease. But it's not curing it.
 
She still has enough mental activity to realize what she's list... and what she's going to lose.
 
It's a fate that could happen to any of us... or a family member. But you don't have to face it alone.
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

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.

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.

Nursing home care is more than $140,000 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

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

Tags: Estate Planning, Nursing Home Costs, Alzheimer's Disease, Elder Law, elder care, Health Care Ruling, bapineuzumab

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

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