National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys Supports President Obama’s 2013 Budget Proposal

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Budget Includes Programs for Seniors and People with Special Needs

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NAELA commends the Obama Administration for protecting critical programs for older adults and individuals with special needs.

This week, President Barack Obama sent his fiscal year 2013 budget proposal to Congress. On behalf of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, NAELA President Edwin M. Boyer, Esq., CAP, released the following statement in response to the budget:

“The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys commends the Obama Administration for protecting critical programs for older adults and individuals with special needs. We highlight the following elements of the budget that we hope Congress will take note of as preparation for fiscal year 2013 continues.”

Cost-of-Living Adjustment for Social Security: This year, older adults received a 3.6 percent Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) after not receiving a COLA for two years. The President's budget assumes a COLA for 2013. Many of NAELA’s clients rely on Social Security as their main source of income, and this is one critical step toward helping older adults have the resources they need and depend on.

Home and Community-Based Services: NAELA strongly supports the home and community-based supportive services that allow older Americans and individuals with special needs to age with health and dignity in the community. NAELA is pleased to see that in this time of difficult fiscal decisions, that the supportive services under the Older Americans Act that our clients rely on will not endure cuts under the President's budget proposal.

Reducing the Social Security Appeals Hearing Backlog: NAELA is impressed by the efforts the Social Security Administration (SSA) has taken under the Obama Administration to reduce the Social Security appeals hearing backlog, but it is not enough. We support the budget's commitment to reducing the average processing time to 270 days in September 2013 and hope Congress will fund this priority.

Alzheimer's Disease Research: NAELA is pleased to see that President Obama is committed to dedicating $80 million in funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for research and public services for Alzheimer's disease. We hope this critical investment will help abate the strain the disease places on its victims, their families, caregivers, and our nation's health resources.

Elder Abuse: NAELA is startled by the President's decision to decrease his funding request for the Elder Justice Act (EJA). The Administration acknowledges that the number of cases of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation are on the rise. However, the budget request inadequately addresses the need for first-time funding for the Elder Justice Act (EJA). The budget does request $8 million for first-time funding for Adult Protective Services, but this is $9 million less than the unfunded request from last year. The Administration also requested level funding for the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, a sharp contrast from the previous year’s request of a $5 million increase. We are concerned that the lack of focus on the EJA will translate into a collective decision in Congress to ignore the dire need for elder justice funding.

Medicare: NAELA is concerned about the budget's proposals for Medicare reforms for new beneficiaries. With the median out-of-pocket health spending as a share of income projected to exceed 25 percent in 2020, we are concerned about how our clients will shoulder the proposed Medicare Part B and D premium increases. We are particularly concerned about the first-time introduction of a home health care copayment for new beneficiaries, as this increase will create a significant barrier for those in need of home care and could lead to an increased use of more costly institutional care.

Medicaid: NAELA urges Congress to carefully consider the President's proposed reductions to Medicaid spending. The budget proposes to save $18 billion over 10 years by blending the federal match that states receive for Medicaid. We caution Congress to research how this blended match could impact state Medicaid budgets, at a time when cash-strapped states are desperate to reduce Medicaid spending.    

As the national debate on budget priorities unfolds and the House of Representatives introduces its proposals, NAELA urges Congress to support the valuable programs that help older Americans age with dignity and independence.

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.

About Elder and Special Needs Law
Elder and Special Needs Law are specialized areas that involve representing, counseling and assisting seniors, people with disabilities and their families in connection with a variety of legal issues, with a primary emphasis on promoting the highest quality of life for individuals. Typically, Elder Law and Special Needs Law address the convergence of legal needs with the social, psychological, medical and financial needs of individuals. The Elder Law and Special Needs Law attorney handles estate planning and counsels clients about planning for incapacity with health care decision-making documents. The Elder and Special Needs Law attorney also assists clients in planning for possible long-term care needs, including at-home care, assisted living or nursing home care. Locating the appropriate type of care, coordinating public and private resources to finance the cost of care and working to ensure the client’s right to quality care are all part of the Elder and Special Needs Law practice.
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Abby Matienzo, Communications Specialist
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