National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys Kicks Off District Days 2012

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NAELA Members Advocate for Older Americans and Individuals with Special Needs as Congress Returns to Home Offices

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Developing relationships with your senators and representatives is important, as we can become valued resources to them and their staff. It is much easier to ask for their support once this relationship has been established.

With their eyes on a critical election this fall, members of Congress are frequently returning home to engage with voters in their districts. After several years of successfully lobbying Congress in Washington, D.C., with an annual "Hill Day," the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) is taking a grassroots approach with District Days, an advocacy event to educate members of Congress when they are in their home offices on issues of importance to older Americans and individuals with special needs.

NAELA's District Days launched in May, when representatives and senators returned home for a week-long recess. NAELA members met with their legislators and shared their ideas and concerns on the federal policy issues that affect their clients and practice, including:

  • Support for reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, which provides older adults with much-needed services that include home care, congregate and home-delivered meals, case management, caregiver support, legal services, transportation, elder abuse prevention and job training, and the long-term care ombudsman program;
  • Opposition to efforts to convert the Medicare program into a premium support system, a model that would replace Medicare’s current guarantee of coverage with a premium-support voucher and raise the age of eligibility from 65 to 67;
  • Opposition to the House budget’s proposed Medicaid block grants, which would restrict funding for state programs, as well as restrict eligibility and funding for long-term services and supports; and
  • Support for the Disabled Military Protection Act of 2012 (H.R. 4329), which would allow payment of military survivor’s benefits into special needs trusts for disabled children.

NAELA Board member Ron Landsman, CAP, and former NAELA Board member Morris Klein, CELA, CAP, met with Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), ranking member of the House Budget Committee, as part of NAELA's District Days advocacy effort. During the meeting, Landsman and Klein asked the congressman to support the Disabled Military Child Protection Act of 2012. Rep. Van Hollen shared his support for the proposal, as well as his concern about inequity if others — civilian government employees and private citizens under Social Security — did not have the same opportunities. Landsman and Klein also discussed the many defects of the so-called Ryan budget proposal, particularly the dismembering of Medicaid federal standards through block grants to states.

NAELA members will continue their advocacy efforts this summer and fall when representatives and senators return home during the weeks of:

  • July 2-6
  • August 7-September 7
  • September 10-14 (Senate only)
  • September 24-28
  • October 8-November 6

As Landsman stated after his visit with Rep. Van Hollen, "Developing relationships with your senators and representatives is important, as we can become valued resources to them and their staff. It is much easier to ask for their support once this relationship has been established."

More information about NAELA’s advocacy efforts can be found online in the Advocacy section.

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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