Elder Law Task Force

Elder Law Task Force content posted in order of most recent to oldest.

Affordable Care Act FAQs

From HHS:

On January 9, 2014, the Department of Labor, the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services released its Frequently Asked Questions on the Affordable Care Act. These FAQs are intended to assist the public in understanding the law so they can benefit from it as intended.

The FAQs address:

· Coverage of Preventive Services

· Limitations on Cost-Sharing under the Affordable Care Act – Maximum Out of Pocket costs

· Expatriate Health Plans

· Wellness Programs

· Fixed Indemnity Insurance – Excepted Benefits

· The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008

The tri-department FAQs are available at http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/faqs/faq-aca18.html and http://www.cciio.cms.gov/resources/factsheets/index.html .

Tax Identity Theft Webinar

Date: 
Wed, 01/15/2014 - 1:30pm - 3:00pm

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), IRS, and AARP present …

TAX IDENTITY THEFT WEBINAR

Tax identity theft is one of the fastest growing forms of identity theft in the U.S. Learn how to protect yourself, your family, and your friends.

In this free webinar, you will learn from the FTC, IRS, and AARP about:

• What tax identity theft is

• How to protect yourself and your family

• What resources are available

• What to do if you become a victim

When: Wednesday January 15 1:30 EST (English)  

and 3:30 EST (Spanish)

Where: visit ftc.gov/taxidtheft for login information 

FREE. NO REGISTRATION REQUIRED.

 

Sponsor: 
Federal Trade Commission

Social Security benefits for same sex couples

From the The Bringing Human Rights Home Lawyers' Network listserv:

For those who have clients that may be eligible, to follow is the link for application information for benefits for same sex couples.

http://www.socialsecurity.gov/same-sexcouples/

MVLS March Madness themed Benefit-Save the Date

Date: 
Thu, 03/27/2014 - 6:00pm - 9:00pm

SAVE THE DATE for MVLS’ annual March Madness-themed benefit!  For more information, contact Stephanie Austin at saustin@mvlslaw.org or (443) 451-4065.

http://www.mvlslaw.org/lawyers/events/benefit-2014/ Save the Date.

M&T Bank Stadium, Southeast Club Level

March 27, 2014

Location
Location Name: 
M&T Bank Stadium, Southeast Club Level
Sponsor: 
Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service

Public Health Practice Grand Rounds - Services for Older Adults

Date: 
Wed, 01/15/2014 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm

JOHNS HOPKINS BLOOMBERG SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH
THE MID-ATLANTIC PUBLIC HEALTH TRAINING CENTER

THE MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & MENTAL HYGIENE
PRESENT PUBLIC HEALTH PRACTICE GRAND ROUNDS


Services for Older Adults: A Changing Landscape for In-Home Care

Arnold Eppel, MA
Director, Office Of Aging/CARE
Baltimore City Health Department

Sarah L. Szanton, PhD, CRNP
Associate Professor and Principal Faculty
Center on Innovative Care in Aging
Johns Hopkins School of Nursing
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health


Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Noon – 1:30 p.m. ET
Sheldon Hall, W1214
Wolfe Street Building

Live webcast on our website at www.jhsph.edu/maphtc (available at noon on 1/15/14)

No registration is necessary!
There are no CEUs available for this webcast.

Archived webcast will be available at
www.jhsph.edu/maphtc


Statement of Acting Commissioner of Social Security on New Payments to Same-Sex Married Couples

http://ssa.gov/news.htm#doma-new-payments

Statement of Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, on New Payments to Same-Sex Married Couples

December 16, 2013

"I am pleased to announce that, effective today, Social Security is processing some widow’s and widower’s claims by surviving members of same-sex marriages and paying benefits where they are due. In addition, we are able to pay some one-time lump sum death benefit claims to surviving same-sex spouses. As I stated shortly after the Supreme Court decision on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, our goal is to treat all Americans with dignity and respect.

Read more...

We ask for continued patience from the public as we work closely with the Department of Justice to develop policies that are legally sound so we can process claims.

If you believe you may be eligible for Social Security, I encourage you to apply now to protect against the loss of any potential benefits. We will process claims as soon as additional instructions become finalized."

To learn more, please visit http://www.socialsecurity.gov/same-sexcouples.

A quick way to get Social Security income verification

From the Social Security Administration Update; November 2013:

This time of year, a lot of people need proof of their income. People can use their cost-of-living adjustment notice or their SSA-1099 to verify their benefit income. But if they have lost their documentation and need proof of income, it’s easy to get a benefit verification letter at our website.

This letter is sometimes called a "budget letter," a "benefits letter," a "proof of income letter" or a "proof of award letter."

A benefit verification letter can be used to prove income or benefits if someone is applying for a loan or mortgage, needs housing assistance or other state or local benefits, or needs to prove retirement or disability status, Medicare health insurance coverage or age to a third party.

Someone can instantly obtain and print their benefit verification letter by taking a few minutes to create  an online my Social Security at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Obama Administration issues final rules on mental health and substance use disorder parity

 

On November 8, the Obama Administration issued final regulations implementing the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.  Among other provisions, the final rules ensure that health plans’ co-payments, deductibles and visit limits are no more restrictive for mental health/substance abuse disorders benefits than they are for medical or surgical benefits.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

The pre-publication version of the final rules can be found here, but they will be formally published in the Federal Register on November 13, 2013.

 

HHS Intergovernmental and External Affairs Notification

November 8, 2013

From: Paul Dioguardi

              Director, Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs

              U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

 

RE: Administration issues final mental health and substance use disorder parity rule

The Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury today jointly issued a final rule increasing parity between mental health/substance use disorder benefits and medical/surgical benefits in group and individual health plans. 

 

The final rule issued today implements the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, and ensures that health plans features like co-pays, deductibles and visit limits are generally not more restrictive for mental health/substance abuse disorders benefits than they are for medical/surgical benefits.

 

Today’s action also includes specific additional consumer protections, such as:

·         Ensuring that parity applies to intermediate levels of care received in residential treatment or intensive outpatient settings;

·         Clarifying the scope of the transparency required by health plans, including the disclosure rights of plan participants, to ensure compliance with the law;

·         Clarifying that parity applies to all plan standards, including geographic limits, facility-type limits and network adequacy; and

·         Eliminating the provision that allowed insurance companies to make an exception to parity requirements for certain benefits based on “clinically appropriate standards of care,” which clinical experts advised was not necessary and which is confusing and open to potential abuse.

By issuing this rule, the administration has now completed or made significant progress on all 23 executive actions included in the President and Vice President’s plan to reduce gun violence. An updated report summarizing the status of all 23 executive actions is available here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/november_exec_actions_progress_report_final.pdf

 

In January, as part of the President and Vice President’s plan to reduce gun violence, the Administration committed to finalize this rule as part of a larger effort to increase access to affordable mental health services and reduce the misinformation associated with mental illness. As the President and Vice President have made clear, mental illness should no longer be treated by our society – or covered by insurance companies – differently from other illnesses.

 

The Affordable Care Act builds on the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and requires coverage of mental health and substance use disorder services as one of ten essential health benefits categories.  Under the essential health benefits rule, individual and small group health plans are required to comply with these parity regulations. 

 

The final Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act rule was developed based on the departments' review of more than 5,400 public comments on the interim final rules issued in 2010.

 

The final rules may be viewed at https://www.federalregister.gov.

 

A fact sheet on the rules is available here: http://cms.hhs.gov/CCIIO/Programs-and-Initiatives/Other-Insurance-Protections/mhpaea_factsheet.html.

 

Questions or Concerns? Contact HHSIEA@hhs.gov.

 

 

Senate Aging Committee Launches New Anti-Fraud Hotline, Enhanced Website to Assist Seniors

– If you or someone you know suspect you’ve been victim of a scam or fraud aimed at seniors, the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging has set up a new toll-free hotline to help.

The hotline was unveiled today to make it easier for senior citizens to report suspected fraud and receive assistance. It will be staffed by a team of committee investigators weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. The investigators, who have experience with investment scams, identity theft, bogus sweepstakes and lottery schemes, Medicare and Social Security fraud, and a variety of other senior exploitation issues, will directly examine complaints and, if appropriate, refer them to the proper authorities.

Anyone with information about suspected fraud can call the toll-free fraud hotline at 1-855-303-9470, or contact the committee through its website, located at http://www.aging.senate.gov/fraud-hotline.

As chairman and ranking member of the committee, Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have made consumer protection and fraud prevention a primary focus of the committee’s work. This year the panel has held hearings examining Jamaican lottery scams, tax-related identity theft, Social Security fraud and payday loans impact on seniors.

“If you’re contacted about an offer that sounds too good to be true, then it probably is,” Nelson said. “This new hotline will give seniors a resource to turn to for assistance if they think they’ve been victimized or have questions about fraudulent activities.”

“Ensuring that seniors are as equipped as possible to avoid becoming victims of fraud and other scams is among our committee’s top priorities,” said Collins. “This new hotline offered by the Senate Special Committee on Aging will help to identify and put a stop to the cruel scams that hurt seniors and their families.”

The hotline’s unveiling also coincides with the committee’s launch of an enhanced senior-friendly website. The site’s new features include large print, simple navigation and an uncluttered layout that enables seniors to find information more easily and conveniently. Online visitors can also increase text size, change colors or view a text-only version of the
site. To view the new website, visit www.aging.senate.gov.

Food Stamp/SNAP benefits reduced as of November 1, 2013.

Food Stamp or SNAP benefits fell on November 1, 2013 for more than 47 million lower-income people -- 1 in 7 Americans -- most of whom live in households with children, seniors or people with disabilities. That amounts to 21 meals per month, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The cuts will leave participants in the program with an average of $1.40 to spend on each meal. The amount people get could sink even more if Congress makes deeper cuts later this year when House and Senate lawmakers try to hammer out a farm bill.

Statistics show that roughly half of all U.S. children go on food stamps sometime during their childhood; half of all adults are on them sometime between the ages of 18 and 65. The USDA estimates that, as of last year, nearly 15 percent of American families, or 18 million households, lacked enough food at least some of the time to ensure that all family members could stay healthy.

Economists have found that every dollar of SNAP spending generates roughly $1.70 in local economic activity. The USDA has calculated that food stamps generate an even bigger bang for the buck. So pinching food stamp recipients also will squeeze the broader U.S. economy. Among other effects, that could dent revenues for the nearly 250,000 groceries and supermarkets around the country that accept SNAP payments, potentially affecting everyone from store workers and truck drivers delivering food to consumers, as food sellers raise prices to offset the loss of revenue. 

Many people who get food stamps are working. Well over half of SNAP recipients have jobs, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. More than 80 percent of beneficiaries find employment within a year of starting to collect payments.

Although some Democrats in Congress have attacked the Nov. 1 rollback in benefits, the Democratic-controlled Senate in June approved legislation that included $4.5 billion in SNAP cuts. House Republicans envision far more draconian cuts, passing a bill last month that would cut funding for the program by $40 billion over 10 years. 

Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505145_162-57609936/millions-on-food-stamps-facing-benefits-cuts/

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/11/01/stateline-food-stamps/3345823/

New videos to help people represent themselves in court

The Maryland Access to Justice Commission released four new videos for the self-represented which can be viewed at the links below.  The videos were produced by the Office of Communications & Public Affairs.

        Tips for Your Day in Court: http://mdcourts.gov/video/selfhelp/atjtipsforyourdayincourt20131016.wmv

        Service of Process: http://mdcourts.gov/video/selfhelp/atjserviceofprocess20131016.wmv

        Finding Legal Help: http://mdcourts.gov/video/selfhelp/atjfindinglegalhelp20131016.wmv

        Defending a Small Claim: http://mdcourts.gov/video/selfhelp/atjdefendingagainstasmallclaim20131016.wmv

Find videos at the court website: http://mdcourts.gov/reference/videolibrary.html.

Verizon Reduces Free Directory Assistance Calls from 4 to 2 Calls

Maryland
Office of People’s Counsel

ALERT

Verizon Reduces Free Directory Assistance Calls from 4 to 2 Calls

Effective
October 16, 2013

Verizon Maryland has reduced the number of free directory assistance calls from 4 to 2 calls per month effective October 16, 2013 for landline (wired) telephone service. Each directory assistance call above 2 calls per month will cost $1.99 per call. This change may impact your clients, including Lifeline customers, if they rely on landline service and 411
Directory Assistance from Verizon.

The Company took this action after a new law went into effect on October 1, 2013 permitting Verizon to do this and preventing the Commission from denying the call reduction. The law was passed after OPC successfully opposed this change in two cases heard by the Public Service Commission.

OPC had opposed this change for a simple reason. Even in this age of smart phones and broadband access, adults who are older or with lower incomes will be disproportionately impacted by this bill, since they are more likely than other adults to rely on landline phones and have the need for directory assistance. They will now be subject to additional expenses if they make more than two calls per month.

These are some options for customers to obtain free Directory Assistance information:

  • Internet: www.verizon.com/white
  • Hard copy residential directory: Call 800-888-8448 to obtain a paper or CD-ROM version of the white pages.
  • Physical or visual disabilities: Verizon cannot charge for directory assistance when these disabilities prevent a customer
    from using a telephone directory. If a customer has such disabilities, she should contact Verizon to get this restriction in the customer’s record.

If the customer with disabilities does not get a satisfactory response from Verizon, she should contact the Public Service Commission to make a complaint at 800-735-0474 or 800-735-2258 (TTY/Voice).

OPC also recommends that cell phone users without data plans should check their cell phone plans for the cost of directory assistance calls charged by their cell phone providers.

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10 Things Assisted Living Homes Won't Tell You

Good things to know, be sure to ask questions about these topics when searching for a good facility.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/10-things-assistedliving-homes-wont-tell-you-1344980948534

5 Obamacare Scams And How To Avoid Them

Share this wherever you can, you know that when there is an opportunity like this, our clients may suffer.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2013/10/01/5-obamacare-scams-and-how-to-avoid-them/

health care resources for uninsured Marylanders


Maryland Health Connection opened its doors this week, and our clients have a new opportunity to access quality, affordable health insurance.  I want to make sure all legal service providers and pro bono attorneys have the resources you need to help your clients access the health care they need.   

  

Referrals:

Maryland Health Connection has a network of consumer assistance organizations that they call Connectors to offer health insurance assistance in Maryland. They are located in communities around the state and are staffed by navigators and assisters who are certified to help Marylanders enroll in Medicaid or a qualified health plan. By going to a local Connector organization, clients can get one-on-one, in person help to find and select health coverage.  You can find the list of each Connector organization across the state, the map showing what counties they cover, and the hours and locations here.

 

Clients can also go directly to Maryland Health Connection through the website www.marylandhealthconnection.gov, and call the Consumer Support Center at 1-855-642-8572.  The Consumer Support Center can handle 200 languages and has services for the deaf and hard of hearing at 1-855-642-8573.

 

Fact Sheets for Clients

Maryland Health Connection includes a lot of fact sheets for clients.  These documents include:

·         Maryland Health Connection Overview (in English and Spanish)

·         Medicaid Fact Sheets (in English and Spanish)

·         Income Eligibility Chart (in English and Spanish)

·         Health Coverage Glossary (in English and Spanish)

 

There’s more – check out everything herePlease print out any of these that seem particularly helpful and put them out in your waiting room, distribute them during outreach sessions, and provide them to your clients.

Thanks - and let me know how it goes.  (Sorry for the duplicate postings - I want to make sure this information gets to everyone!)

Earn $80 by participaing in a study about voting accessibility

**Participants Needed for Accessibility and Usability Evaluations of Voting Systems**

Maryland will be moving to a new voting system by 2016. The State Board of Elections has contracted with the University of Baltimore (UB) to conduct a study of potential voting systems to ensure that the system chosen is fully accessible to voters with disabilties.

UB is looking for testers with a range of disabilities for the study, which will take place in Baltimore at UB. The study pays $80 per hour. Testers must be over 18 and eligible to vote.

Please encourage individuals to contact UB to be considered to be a tester. Potential testers can reach UB by email at ubusabilitylab@gmail.com or 410-837-1974.

A letter from MDLC and a flier announcing the study are attached.

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Joint Elder Law Public Benefits Task Force Meeting 9/11/13 10AM

All,

A joint Elder Law and Public Benefits Task Force meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 11, 2013 at our Baltimore City office from 10 - 1. Please find the agenda attached. To join us via GoTo Meeting, please follow these instructions:

URL: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/join/606689542

1. Join the meeting by clicking on the URL link above.

2. Call the conference line at:

 

Dial +1 (626) 521-0011
Access Code: 606-689-542

 

If anyone has any trouble connecting to the meeting, please call IT Help at 410-951-7693, or Katherine Jones at 443-604-4729.

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Now Available: CMS Fact Sheet on Medicare Beneficiaries and the Health Insurance Marketplace

From CMS:

 Please read this important fact sheet, People with Medicare and the Health Insurance Marketplace Frequently Asked Questions.
 
This CMS fact sheet is designed to reassure people with Medicare that the Health Insurance Marketplace won’t affect their Medicare coverage and is not part of Medicare Open Enrollment, which occurs from October 15 to December 7. It also reminds beneficiaries to protect their personal information during the Open Enrollment season.

Please also share this fact sheet with your colleagues and partners.

 

http://www.cms.gov/Center/Special-Topic/Open-Enrollment/Downloads/Medicare-Marketplace-FAQs.pdf

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