U.S. Health Care Reform Law & New York Senior Care

The legal world was aflutter in recent weeks over the United States Supreme Court’s consideration of the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). As most are aware, the high court held three days of hearings on the law (an unprecedented move), and they are expected to release their ruling in the coming months. Either all or part of the landmark legislation may ultimately be struck down as an unconstitutional federal overreach. Our New York senior care attorneys know that most of the focus has been on whether or not the court will invalidate the portion of the law that mandates that individuals possess health insurance or pay a penalty (the individual mandate). Many observers have predicted that the court will in fact strike down the individual mandate. However, those predictions have been wrong in the past, and so no one will actually know the outcome until the opinion is issued.

However, it is important to also consider what would happen to the rest of the law if the individual mandate is struck down. The rest of the bill may be in jeopardy. New York long-term care planning may well be affected. A recent Forbes articles touched on the potential impact. A few points worth noting…

–Home & Community Care: The bill included various state incentives that sought to expand Medicaid support of alternative care arrangements. These incentives were intended to steer Medicaid dollars away from nursing home and towards the more flexible care options that seniors actually want.

–Medicaid: The New York Medicaid program which provides long-term care support to many local seniors was affected by the healthcare law. Various rule changes were incorporated into the bill, each with the effect of expanding coverage to uninsured workers. The expansion might have various effects on the care ultimately given to seniors.

–Integrated Care: The law provided for a range of changes in the way that healthcare is actually delivered. For example, the law created a new office to coordinate “dual eligibles”–those who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. That group includes many seniors in our area.

The Affordable Care Act included a range of other details that may have direct and indirect effect on long-term senior care. While the individual mandate provision has drawn the lion’s share of attention in the debate on the measure’s constitutionality, the consequences of the law being struck down may have significant ripple effects in the area of senior care. All local residents should remain aware of these potential changes and consult with an experienced legal professional depending on the outcome of the case to determine if there are any consequences for their own plans.

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