Articles Posted in Elder Law

Nursing homes have been substantially impacted by the COVID-19 due to its outbreaks leading to high mortality rates among the elderly. Understandably, aggressive attempts were made to restrict the risk of Covid-19 exposure as much as possible. 

In March 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a memorandum guiding restricting visitation of all visitors and non-essential healthcare workers. Several months later, in May 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released its reopening recommendation for nursing homes which provided additional guidance in dealing with Covid-19 and reopening. 

The Center notes that physical separation from loved ones has taken a substantial physical and emotional toll on nursing home residents as well as their loved ones. The Center for Medicaid Services appreciates that nursing home residents find value in the support they receive from visitations by their loved ones. Consequently, the Center recently revised its guidance addressing visitation in nursing homes during the pandemic. 

A Los Angeles judge recently ruled that Britney Spears’ father should have his position as her conservator suspended. This change will set Britney Spears on the road to freedom. Spears’ father filed to end his position after Spears filed to replace him with a professional conservator. 

The famous singer has described the conservatorship as abusive and stated that it prevented her from achieving many of her life objectives including getting married and having children.

The Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge who heard the case had several options including terminating the conservatorship, keeping the conservatorship in place and replacing the conservator, changing nothing, or delaying a ruling and requesting more evidence.

Frustration is growing for medical professionals including those who work at hospices as they wait for President Biden to reveal details about how federal regulations for COVID-19 will be enforced.

This frustration is in part driven by uncertainty about aspects like permissible exemptions, testing costs, and the number of worker counts that will be utilized. Until the regulation is published, the country will not be certain about the exact impact on home care organizations by COVID-19 regulations. 

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization President and CEO have reported that there is widespread concern and that the country continues to collect input about COVID-19 to inform its discussions with the administration to make sure that the requirement is executed in the best possible manner.

Many people write off falls as a normal danger associated with the aging process. In reality, this could not be any further from the truth. While September was Fall Prevention Month, it’s important for the elderly and their loved ones to remain up to date about the various dangers associated with falls as well as what can be done to stop them.

Factors that Can Lead to Falls

Falls are the second most common factor for older individuals needing long-term care. Dementia is the most common factor. To prevent as well as treat the injuries and other damage caused by falls, it’s a good idea for patients as well as caregivers to inform themselves about what causes falls.

A family with a disabled child faces countless obstacles. For many years, one of the best estate planning tools for parents in such a situation was a special needs trust. These trusts provide resources to care for disabled children while making sure that the child remains eligible for means-tested government benefits. 

Many people lately have realized that Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Accounts can also be helpful. Signed into law in 2014, ABLE Accounts were created by Internal Revenue Code Section 529A which authorizes the state to offer tax-advantaged savings accounts for blind and disabled individuals.

How ABLE Accounts Are Structured

When people in the United States qualify for Medicare on reaching the age of 65, they often notice a substantial decline in medical costs paid out-of-pocket.

A new study recently discovered that reducing the eligibility age would save even more for people. The study’s lead author, an assistant professor of cardiac surgery at the University of Michigan’s Medical School, found that these savings would be most profoundly felt by those who most need financial protection.

The study examined out-of-pocket health care costs including co-pays and deductibles for individuals in their late 50s to early 70s. The average out-of-pocket cost declined 27% between the ages of 64 to 66 even though income remained the same. Meanwhile, average health costs paid by individuals and insurance increased 5%. Meanwhile, the percent of older individuals lacking health insurance decreased from 5% to almost 0% from ages 64 to 66. The study made note of older individuals whose health care costs consumed 40% of their income after food and housing. This category included 9% of uninsured 64-year-olds but dropped by 35% for 66 year olds. Not having medicare benefits likely contributed to the fact that approximately 6% of 66-years-old spent more than 40% of their disposable income on health care costs. 

The Center for Medicaid Services recently issued a notable statement requesting that parties conform with the duties and obligation of third-parties found in existing law. The Center recently reviewed each state’s Medicaid plan to make sure that states complied with recent statute changes. The Center for Medicaid decided that many states are yet to revise their guidelines to meet regulations found in the Bipartisan Budget Act as well as the Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act. Regulations found in the Bipartisan Act include statements that impact regulations connected to the treatment of some kinds of care. 

The Background of These Changes

Medicaid often disperses funds only as a “last resort”, which means that Medicaid issues payment for treatment and services only when it is assessed that no other payment sources exist. The Social Security Act’s Section 1902 requires all 50 states to take measures deemed reasonable when deciding on third-party payer liability.  The Act also specifies what the term “third-party payer” means. The definition of “third-party payer” encompasses various entities including health insurers, qualified health plans, and any other entity that are classified as legally responsible for certain medical treatment. The Bipartisan Act revised section 1902 to require all 50 states to utilize standard cost avoidance methods rather than paying the total amount allowed under the appropriate payment schedule then seeking third-party reimbursement. 

The Social Security Administration recently revised its rules addressing how pandemic-related financial assistance can end up impacting a person’s eligibility for Supplemental Security Income or monthly Social Security Income benefits. The Social Security Administration once counted various types of assistance as income and resources for social security income purposes, which led to individuals having their social security income benefits reduced or suspended. Sometimes, social security benefits were outright denied. 

A Change to What the Agency Counts as Assistance

Due to the covid-19 pandemic, the Social Security Administration has decided to not count many types of pandemic-related assistance against either Supplemental Security Income eligibility or benefit amounts. Some types of assistance that are now excluded include economic impact payments, state stimulus payments, unemployment assistance, paycheck protection, and loans or grants to employers and self-employed workers.

Deciding how to best care for elderly parents is never easy, particularly when they face difficulties in performing daily living activities for themselves. In an effort to resolve your responsibilities as well as meet your parents’ needs, you can unexpectedly end up facing various challenges, particularly if your loved one resides in a nursing home. Data currently suggests that only 4.5 percent of older adults or 1.5 million people live in nursing homes.

 At the end of the day, you likely desire for your parents to reside in a facility which may very well be a nursing home where they will be able to thrive as well make the most of their remaining time. With these issues in mind, it’s a good idea to review and plan around all aspects of nursing home life. 

Adapting to a Schedule

A study conducted by researchers at Cornell and the University of Toronto recently found that over 1 in 10 older adults in the state of New York is at risk of becoming the victims of elder abuse over the next decades. Poor health has been determined to be a major risk factor in abuse. Black elderly individuals are also reported to be at a greater risk of financial abuse. 

The study, Estimated Incidence and Factors Associated with Risk of Elder Mistreatment in New York State,  tracked abuse over time among hundreds of older adults who had not previously been abused. The study subsequently determined that elder abuse is widespread. The research followed elderly adults over a 10 year period. 

While the study only examined New York state, the researchers who performed the study have commented that the results are likely to be indicative of the conditions that exist in the rest of the country. 

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