National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys Celebrates Two-Year Anniversary of Affordable Care Act

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Bill Makes Strides in Health Care Reform for Seniors and People with Special Needs

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NAELA continues to support the implementation of the health care reform law.

March 23 marks the second anniversary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has benefited the lives of millions of Americans and their families, especially older adults and individuals with special needs. The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), a professional association of attorneys dedicated to improving the quality of legal services provided to these people, recognizes the impact the ACA has already had on older adults.

"As a result of the Affordable Care Act, many older adults on Medicare are receiving free preventive services through screenings and wellness visits and a 50 percent discount on brand-name prescription drugs. NAELA continues to support the implementation of the health care reform law," said NAELA President Edwin M. Boyer, Esq., CAP.

In two short years, the ACA's initial implementation is directly touching and changing the health care coverage for millions of Americans of all ages. While major changes such as the health insurance exchanges, Medicaid expansion, and the individual mandate, are not scheduled until 2014, these two years have ushered in significant improvements for health care. Some of the highlights for older adults include:

  • Medicare coverage for preventive services: Medicare now covers preventive services with no cost sharing, and also provides beneficiaries with a free annual wellness visit
  • Prescription drug benefits: Medicare beneficiaries who fall into the prescription drug coverage gap, or the "doughnut hole," receive a 50 percent discount when buying brand-name prescription drugs.
  • Nursing home quality enforcement: The ACA requires long-term care facilities to follow new requirements for reporting a reasonable suspicion of crimes.
  • Elder abuse and prevention: The law provides matching grant money to states to establish a background-check program on individuals who apply for direct patient access jobs in long-term care facilities that receive funding from Medicare or Medicaid.
  • Coverage despite pre-existing conditions: In 2014, health insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage to beneficiaries due to a pre-existing condition. Protections are already in place for certain individuals with pre-existing conditions, with the ACA's sponsorship of high-risk health insurance plans for individuals with pre-existing conditions. As of November 2011, 450,000 individuals were participating in these plans.
  • Intergenerational benefits: One of the most popular provisions of the ACA is the requirement that individual and group health plans extend dependent coverage to adult children up to age 26. Americans age 18 to 24 continue to struggle, facing the highest unemployment rate since the government began tracking unemployment in 1948. Despite record unemployment, 2.5 million young adults have maintained health care coverage as a result of this provision.

NAELA continues to support the Affordable Care Act, and advocates for the implementation of the law. Throughout the law's development, NAELA worked closely with the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO) to advocate for policies that would ensure quality, affordable health care for older Americans.

Learn more on NAELA's Health Care Reform page.

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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