For Immediate Release
March 20, 2017        
Contact: Abby Matienzo, Communications Manager
       703-942-5711 #230

NAELA President Issues Statement on the American Health Care Act


Washington, DC — NAELA President Catherine Seal released the following statement on the American Health Care Act today:

Members of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) counsel individuals with disabilities of all ages facing potential poverty and institutionalization as a result of their condition.

Sadly, America still lacks a comprehensive long-term services and supports system. After family caregivers exhaust themselves emotionally, physically, and financially in providing care, too many individuals in need have no option but to seek coverage through the Medicaid program.

Particularly in light of this context, NAELA has serious concerns with the American Health Care Act as presently drafted. The legislation radically changes Medicaid’s financing structure to fixed federal contribution per beneficiary. As drafted, this change would both fundamentally alter a state’s financial incentives while at the same time reducing the federal government’s financial commitment to the program over time.
 
Many critical aspects of the Medicaid program for individuals with disabilities are optional and not mandatory under the law. For example, the Medicaid program mandates expensive nursing home coverage, while potentially less costly home and community-based services are optional. Changing Medicaid’s financial structure without addressing these issues would put Americans, such as those with dementia, a spinal cord injury, or children with development disabilities, at risk of being institutionalized when they could otherwise receive care in a less restrictive, less costly setting.

NAELA has several additional specific concerns related to the present draft, including the end of Medicaid’s three-month retroactive coverage, limitations to home equity, repealing additional financing for Community First Choice, and the overall impact the changes in the draft legislation could have on older adults of modest means.

We look forward to working with Congress to address these concerns.

About NAELA
Members of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) are attorneys who are experienced and trained in working with the legal problems of aging Americans and individuals of all ages with disabilities. Established in 1987, NAELA is a non-profit association that assists lawyers, bar organizations, and others. The mission of NAELA is to establish NAELA members as the premier providers of legal advocacy, guidance, and services to enhance the lives of people with special needs and people as they age. NAELA currently has members across the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit NAELA.org.

# # #