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Headlines

Alzheimer’s Documentary: Epidemic Could Bankrupt Medicare and Medicaid
January 25, 2017
With millions of baby boomers at risk of Alzheimer’s disease, a new documentary calculates the costs of this public health “tidal wave.”
Full Story.

CMS Reports 'Sharp' Drop in Avoidable Hospitalizations Among Long-Term Care Residents
January 24, 2017
The rate of potentially avoidable hospitalizations among dual-eligible long-term care residents fell by nearly a third in recent years, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reported.
Full Story.

For People With Developmental Disabilities, Food Work Means More Self Reliance
January 23, 2017
Every child wants to grow up to be independent — to leave their parents' home, find work, build a life of their own. But that seemingly simple step into adulthood can be a monumental challenge for children with developmental disabilities like autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, or any of a range of other such disabilities that affect about one in six American children, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Full Story.

Social Security Plans to Provide Even Less Information
January 20, 2017
The Social Security Administration just quietly noted on its website that it will mail out even fewer earnings and estimated benefits statements to save the agency money.
Full Story.

Care Provider Directories Wrong Nearly Half the Time in Medicare Advantage Plan Lists
January 19, 2017
As Congress continues to move toward repealing part or even all of Obamacare, it’s not surprising that other health care news has fallen off our radar. Last week, however, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the agency that oversees Medicare, released some very upsetting results of a study that reviewed the accuracy of the directories of health care providers in the networks used by Medicare Advantage plans.
Full Story.

The 7 Ages That Matter Most When Planning Retirement
January 18, 2017
The age you retire will likely differ from your neighbor, relative, or co-worker. But in preparing for retirement, there are certain ages that everyone has to be mindful of because of IRS rules on retirement accounts or government benefit programs like Social Security or Medicare.
Full Story.

Medicare Failed to Recover Up to $125 Million in Overpayments From Private Insurers
January 17, 2017
Six years ago, federal health officials were confident they could save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually by auditing private Medicare Advantage insurance plans that allegedly overcharged the government for medical services.
Full Story.

Medicaid’s Data Gets an Internet-Era Makeover
January 13, 2017
Medicaid, which provides health care to low-income people, is administered state by state. Extracting, cleaning and curating the information from so many disparate and dated computer systems was an extraordinary achievement, health and technology specialists say. This new collection of data could inform the coming debate on Medicaid spending.
Full Story.

Supreme Court Wrestles with Defining Rights for Students with Disabilities, Including Autism
January 12, 2017
The Supreme Court Wednesday seemed ready to increase the educational benefits the country’s public schools owe to millions of children with disabilities, as the justices considered one of the most significant special-education cases to reach the high court in decades.
Full Story.

Updates

NAELA Files Amicus Brief and Presents Oral Argument in Massachusetts High Court Case (Nadeau v. Thorn)
NAELA filed an amicus curiae brief in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and joined the oral argument on January 5, in support of two Medicaid applicants asking the court to require “MassHealth,” the state’s Medicaid agency, to comply with federal law in its treatment of trusts holding the Medicaid applicants’ former homes. MassHealth argues that the applicants’ right to live in the houses make the houses “available,” and thus MassHealth can value that use at the entire fair market value of the property. In its brief, written by Emily S. Starr, Ron M. Landsman, CAP (who presented the oral argument), Rene H. Reixach, John W. Callinan, and Lauren Marinaro, NAELA reviews the authoritative federal agency view that under the mandatory federal Medicaid trust rules, trustee authority to make payments of income makes income “available,” and trustee authority to distribute corpus  makes corpus “available,” but there is no overlap – authority to distribute income does not make corpus “available” for Medicaid purposes. View the oral arguments. (January 11, 2017)

NAELA Vice President Attends Signing of 21st Century Cures Act

NAELA Vice President Mike Amoruso, service dog Demitri, and Vice President Biden
NAELA Vice President Mike Amoruso attended the signing of the 21st Century Cures Act at the White House as NAELA's representative. It's a proud day for NAELA, as its top legislative priority becomes law. (December 13, 2016)

NAELA Praises Passage of Special Needs Trust Fairness Act as Part of 21st Century Cures
The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act corrects a patently false and degrading error in the law that presumed all individuals with disabilities lacked the capacity to handle their own affairs. See press release. (December 7, 2016)

MO NAELA President to Testify Before Senate on Financial Abuse of Seniors
Tomorrow, the Senate Aging Committee will hold a hearing. Current NAELA Missouri Chapter President Jessica Kruse will testify in her own capacity. See press release. (November 29, 2016)

SNT Fairness Act Included in End-of-Year Health Package; House Vote Wednesday Nov. 30
A major end-of-year health package includes the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act (sec. 5007), which allows individuals with disabilities to set up their own d-4-a special needs trusts. The House plans to vote on the package Wednesday under “suspension of the rules.” Under suspension of the rules, House members cannot offer amendments on the floor, but it must pass by two-thirds vote. According to Congressional Quarterly, the Senate has yet to agree to a final version of the package with leadership driving the negotiations. (November 28, 2016)

NAELA Advocacy Update
Read the latest news on NAELA public policy and advocacy. (November 22, 2016)

NAELA Supports National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month in November
In honor of November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, NAELA focuses on raising awareness of education and legal resources available for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families. See press release. (November 10, 2016)

NAELA Recognizes Rep. Thompson as an Outstanding Advocate for Persons with Disabilities
NAELA presented Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) with an award for his outstanding advocacy for persons with disabilities in the 114th Congress. See press release. (October 20, 2016)

NAELA Advocacy Update
Read the latest news on NAELA public policy and advocacy. (October 4, 2016)

NAELA Attorneys Celebrate Ban on Pre-Dispute Arbitration Agreements for Nursing Homes
The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) celebrates the decision by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to ban long-term care facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid funds from entering into pre-dispute arbitration agreements with residents. See press release. (October 3, 2016)

NAELA Celebrates National Special Needs Law Month in October
The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) established October as National Special Needs Law Month as a grassroots effort to help people with disabilities and their families understand special needs planning and the resources available to them. See press release. (September 30, 2016)

NAELA Praises House Passage of Special Needs Trust Fairness and Medicaid Improvement Act
The House passed the Special Needs Trust Fairness and Medicaid Improvement Act (H.R. 670) 382 to 22 today, which corrects an error in the law that presumes that all persons with disabilities lack the mental capacity to handle their own affairs. See press release. (September 22, 2016)

NAELA Foundation Announces 2017 Conference Scholarship Opportunity
The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys Foundation proudly announces the availability of the Cohn Sisters’ Scholarships for Patient Advocacy for attendance at the 2017 NAELA Annual Conference in Boston, Massachusetts (April 27-29). Learn more and submit an application by January 20, 2017. (September 22, 2016)

NAELA President's Award Given to PLAN/NJ Executive Director, Ellen Nalven
Green Brook resident and Executive Director of Planned Lifetime Assistance Network of New Jersey (PLAN/NJ) located in Somerville, Ellen Nalven, M. Ed, recently received The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) 2016 President's Award. Read more. (August 23, 2016)

NAELA Releases Video Series for People With Multiple Sclerosis
The new “Legal and Care Planning for People with Multiple Sclerosis” video series is intended to help people diagnosed with MS and their families understand the complex legal and planning issues they face. It was produced via a partnership between the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) and Stetson University College of Law, in consultation with the National MS Society. See press release. (August 15, 2016)

Update on DeCambre v. Brookline Housing Authority
The federal district court’s decision in DeCambre v. Brookline Housing Authority determined that special needs trust (SNT) distributions could be counted as income in determining Section 8 eligibility. NAELA members Ron Landsman, Esq., CAP, and Emily Starr, CELA, wrote and submitted an amicus brief on the case, with assistance from NAELA member Gregory Wilcox, CELA.

The 1st Circuit acknowledged the work of NAELA, the Special Needs Alliance and the National Housing Law Project regarding regulation § 5.603(b), which states that “’income’ in section 5.603(b) does not include the principal that initially funded the trust.”

DeCambre’s main claim focused on whether the housing authority made an error under the relevant regulations when calculating her income. She argued that SNT monies were from lump-sum payments and thus any SNT distribution was excluded from her annual income.

After again looking at the regulation and considering the parties’ arguments, the court rejected the defendant’s position.

“This does not address third-party trusts, but this is a victory for people with first-party pooled trust accounts or relatively modest individual special needs trusts. It means that drawing down principal and distributing it from the trust or trust account is not income for rent calculation purposes. The rare person with a really large special needs trust account who has substantial income from the trust — interest, dividends, realized capital gains — will have all of that counted for rent purposes,” said Landsman.

View the case ruling.