Category Archives: Law

What’s Ahead From Our New President?

At this writing, the Inauguration of Donald J. Trump plays out, and the country’s emotions remain divided with celebrating and protesting.

It’s bound to be another year of healthcare upheavals as we wait to see if the incoming administration will follow through on its promise to “repeal and replace” the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and call for other reforms that would potentially affect Medicaid funding, pharmaceutical regulation and the health insurance industry.

…read more at Senior Living News

Medicare Sign Ups October 15 – December 7, 2016

It’s that time of year again

For 2017 Medicare coverage, Open Enrollment begins for Medicare  in the fall of 2016, from October 15 to December 7.

People with Medicare can change their choice of health coverage (whether they receive that coverage through a private Medicare Advantage plan or traditional Medicare), and add, drop or change Medicare Part D drug coverage.

During this annual enrollment period (AEP) you can make changes to various aspects of your coverage.

  • You can switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, or vice versa.
  • You can also switch from one Medicare Advantageplan to another, or from one Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan to another.
  • And if you didn’t enroll in a Medicare Part D plan when you were first eligible, you can do so during the general open enrollment, although a late enrollment penalty may apply.

It’s very important that Medicare beneficiaries review their drug plan annually. Why? Because Medicare private drug plans can make changes each year; changes can include which pharmacies are in their networks as well as which drugs are covered and the costs.  Most people can only change their plans during the Fall Open Enrollment Period.

Find out whether medications you are taking will be covered on your plan next year. If your physician had to submit a prior authorization exception request and you need the same medication next year, call your plan to find out what you need to do to make sure that your plan continues covering your medication. Your physician may need to submit a new request and he may be able to do so before the end of the year to ensure that your coverage continues without interruption.

Now is the time to be asking questions! For more information visit

http://www.medicareadvocacy.org/the-medicare-annual-coordinated-election-period-has-begun/

Do Seniors Need a Living Will?

What is a living will and who should have one?

Discussions about end-of-life and critical-care issues are never easy and often get put aside because no family members are at that stage, but planning ahead can prevent confusion, conflict and unnecessary suffering during times of worry and grief.

Knowing a loved one’s wishes before an illness or accident ensures that family members won’t have to make difficult choices on the loved one’s behalf during a crisis.

Livings Wills Are Legal Instructions

Also called advance directives or healthcare directives, living wills are written, legal instructions detailing a person’s preferences for medical care if he or she is unable to make decisions. Advance directives guide healthcare choices for medical professionals and caregivers if a person is terminally ill, critically injured, in a coma, in the late stages of dementia or near the end of life.

Advance directives aren’t just for older adults. Because unexpected critical-care and end-of-life situations can occur at any age, it’s crucial for all adults to prepare these documents.

Studies show that older adults feel especially relieved to know that their specific and personal end-of-life preferences are documented and will be carried out, therefore freeing their families from making these decisions.

Living Wills and Power of Attorney

A living will typically works together with a medical power of attorney (POA). Some states combine the two into one document. The medical POA enables a person to select somebody (a spouse, other family member, or a trusted friend) to make medical decisions on his or her behalf. These two documents can allow you to control the types of medical treatment you’ve chosen, and who will make sure your wishes are honored.

Which Medical Treatments Should You Think About?

The living will typically spells out medical treatments you would or would not want to be used to keep you alive, as well as other options such as pain management and organ donation. Talk to your doctor, healthcare agent (the person with POA), your family, and friends about your personal wishes. Would you want to extend treatment in any situation? Would you want treatment only if recovery is possible?

These are some of the primary issues to consider:

  • Resuscitation to restart the heart. You don’t need a living will to have do not resuscitate (DNR) and do not intubate (DNI) orders. These orders can be prepared separately and put in your medical record.
  • Mechanical ventilation to take over breathing if you can’t breathe on your own.
  • Tube feeding to supply the body with nutrients and fluids intravenously or through a tube in the stomach.
  • Dialysis if your kidneys cease to function.
  • Antibiotics or antiviral medications used near the end of life.
  • Palliative care to keep you comfortable and manage pain at end of life, including being allowed to die at home, getting pain medications, being fed ice chips to soothe dryness, and avoiding invasive tests or treatments.
  • Organ and tissue donation for transplantation.
  • Donating your body for scientific study.