Friday, April 30, 2010

Caregiver Spouses denied Elective Share of decedent spouses' estates

From our friends at

As the American demographic continues its shift toward a larger elderly population, the problems with caregivers continue to increase. In the past, these problems typically involved power of attorney abuses. The courts have been clogged with such cases. But a recent article by Jaclene D’Agostino for the New York Trusts & Estates Litigation Blog caught our eye regarding two new cases out of New York that take matters to a new level. In these cases, caregivers tried to take advantage of the people they were hired to care for by marrying them to get an elective share of their estates.

In re Berk1 involved Irving Berk, an extremely successful businessman who founded the Berk Trade and Business School. In 1982, Irving executed a will naming his two sons, Joel and Harvey, as executors of his estate and leaving that estate to his sons and four of his grandchildren. Over time, Irving’s health deteriorated to the point that he was in a wheelchair, suffered from memory loss and often became confused.

 In 1997, Judy Wang, then 40 years old, who had immigrated to the United States from China the year before, was hired as Irving’s live-in caregiver. Irving was 91 at the time and became completely dependent on Judy who was constantly with him. According to one of Irving’s associates who was often with him and Judy, Judy would shove Irving and scream at him, causing him to become tearful. Irving also told this associate that he was afraid of Judy as she would hit him, scratch his face and scream at him.

In April of 2005, a physician diagnosed Irving, whose mental faculties had been in steady decline for years, with dementia and stated that he was incapable of entering into a binding contract or managing his affairs. Two months later, Irving and Judy were married. One of Irving’s associates who saw him on his wedding day said that though Irving was wearing a suit and tie, he didn’t appear lucid or aware of his circumstances. Irving and Judy never told family, friends or associates about their wedding, and witnesses stated that they didn’t wear wedding bands or display any affection for each other.

Irving died on June 16, 2006. The day before, while riding with Joel and Harvey to the funeral home (presumably to finalize arrangements), Judy told them that she and Irving were married. Irving’s estate was valued in excess of $5 million. In December 2006, after Irving’s will was filed for probate, Judy petitioned the Surrogate’s court to determine the validity of her right to an elective share. Joel and Harvey counterclaimed. Judy moved for summary judgment which the Surrogate’s court granted, holding that no issue of fact existed as to whether Judy was the surviving spouse and entitled to an elective share under New York law (EPTL Section 5-1.2). Joel and Harvey appealed. In overturning the Surrogate’s court ruling, the appeals court relied on its simultaneous decision in Campbell v. Thomas.2

Campbell involved the story of Howard Nolan who, in early 2000, was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer and severe dementia. In February 2001, Nancy Thomas, Howard’s daughter and primary caretaker, went on a vacation and left Howard, then 72 years old, in the care of Nidia Colon, then 58 years old. Nancy and two of Howard’s other children, Christopher and Keith later learned that Nidia married Howard during Nancy’s vacation and subsequently transferred his assets into her name. Howard died in August 2001. That following November, Christopher, Nancy and Keith brought an action against Nidia seeking a judgment declaring her marriage to Howard void and preventing her from getting Howard’s assets. Their complaint contained allegations of lack of capacity, undue influence, conversion and fraud. Cross-motions for summary judgment followed.

Meanwhile, also in November 2001, Christopher filed a petition for probate in the Surrogate’s court seeking admission of Howard’s will dated March 24, 1976. That will stated that, if Howard’s wife predeceased him, his estate was to be divided equally among his children. Nidia filed a right of election which Christopher challenged. The Surrogate’s court stayed the proceedings pending the outcome of the other action.

According to Nancy, during the last three years of Howard’s life, he was forgetful, confused, paranoid and prone to temper outbursts. When she confronted Howard about the marriage in March 2001, he adamantly denied that he was married. Nancy also asserted that Howard kept his will in a safe in his home but that, when he died, Nidia claimed that she was unable to locate it. The will was later produced by Nidia’s attorney.

Nidia asserted that she had met Howard in 1975, after Howard’s first wife died, when Howard was a school principal and Nidia was a school safety officer. She claimed that she had a 25-year relationship with Howard during which he asked her four times to marry. Nidia claimed that she accepted that last offer knowing that Howard’s children would oppose it. She also alleged that, while Howard did have moments of forgetfulness, he seemed to have the requisite mental capacity to enter into marriage vows. Nidia admitted that her relationship with Howard was not exclusive and he dated other women. Christopher’s affidavit stated that Howard jointly owned property with one other woman.

The pastor who officiated at the wedding and the two witnesses all averred that Howard knew he was marrying Nidia Colon; however, the pastor later acknowledged that he wouldn’t have performed the ceremony had he known of Howard’s medical condition.

The evidence also showed that Nidia had secretly made herself the sole beneficiary of Howard’s retirement account, then attempted to cover up this fact by falsely stating in two affidavits that Howard made her the sole beneficiary without her knowledge (she later admitted that she had in fact filled out the change-of-beneficiary form). Before she did this, Nidia had been a beneficiary of this retirement account along with Christopher, Keith, Nancy, and Nancy’s son, Peter Thomas.

To read the rest, go to:, or check out:

1. In re Berk, 2010 N.Y. Slip Op. 02139 (Supreme Court, March 16, 2010).

2. Campbell v. Thomas, 2010 N.Y. Slip Op. 02082 (Supreme Court, March 16, 2010).

April 30, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Browse ALL abstracts for this journal

Table of Contents

Your Nest Egg on Auto Pilot
Lewis Mandell, Aspen Institute - Initiative on Financial Security
Pamela J. Perun, Aspen Institute - Initiative on Financial Security
Lisa Mensah, Aspen Institute - Initiative on Financial Security
Raymond O'Mara III, Aspen Institute - Initiative on Financial Security

The Federal Estate Tax: History, Law, and Economics
David Joulfaian, U.S. Department of the Treasury

The Human Rights of the Elderly: An Emerging Challenge
Frederic Megret, McGill University - Faculty of Law

You Can’t Take it with You, and Maybe You Can’t Even Give it Away: The Case of Elizabeth Baldwin Rice
J. Thomas Oldham, University of Houston Law Center

Shifting Burdens: Discrimination Law Through the Lens of Jury Instructions
Catherine T. Struve, University of Pennsylvania Law School

Through the Looking Glass: The Politics of Estate Tax Reform
Edward J. McCaffery, USC Gould School of Law

Older People in Law and Society
Jonathan Herring, University of Oxford - Faculty of Law

April 28, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Passages . . .

We note with sorrow the passing last week of civil rights leader Dorothy Height. A civil rights pioneer, Height was the president emirita of the National Council of Negro Women and dedicated her life’s work to racial justice and gender equality. President Obama has called Dorothy Height “the godmother of the civil rights movement.” She was 98.

April 26, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

US News and World Report Survey of Nursing Homes

US News and World Report has released its study of nursing homes in the U.S.  Check it out at:

April 26, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Sonoma County CA separates elderly gay couple and sells all of their worldly possessions

Posted by Kate Kendall, at NCLR's Elder Law Project.

Clay and his partner of 20 years, Harold, lived in California. Clay and Harold made diligent efforts to protect their legal rights, and had their legal paperwork in place--wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives, all naming each other. Harold was 88 years old and in frail medical condition, but still living at home with Clay, 77, who was in good health.

One evening, Harold fell down the front steps of their home and was taken to the hospital. Based on their medical directives alone, Clay should have been consulted in Harold's care from the first moment. Tragically, county and health care workers instead refused to allow Clay to see Harold in the hospital. The county then ultimately went one step further by isolating the couple from each other, placing the men in separate nursing homes.

Ignoring Clay's significant role in Harold's life, the county continued to treat Harold like he had no family and went to court seeking the power to make financial decisions on his behalf. Outrageously, the county represented to the judge that Clay was merely Harold's "roommate." The court denied their efforts, but did grant the county limited access to one of Harold's bank accounts to pay for his care.

. . . .

Without authority, without determining the value of Clay and Harold's possessions accumulated over the course of their 20 years together or making any effort to determine which items belonged to whom, the county took everything Harold and Clay owned and auctioned off all of their belongings. Adding further insult to grave injury, the county removed Clay from his home and confined him to a nursing home against his will. The county workers then terminated Clay and Harold's lease and surrendered the home they had shared for many years to the landlord.

Three months after he was hospitalized, Harold died in the nursing home. Because of the county's actions, Clay missed the final months he should have had with his partner of 20 years. Compounding this tragedy, Clay has literally nothing left of the home he had shared with Harold or the life he was living up until the day that Harold fell, because he has been unable to recover any of his property. The only memento Clay has is a photo album that Harold painstakingly put together for Clay during the last three months of his life.

With the help of a dedicated and persistent court-appointed attorney, Anne Dennis of Santa Rosa, Clay was finally released from the nursing home. Ms. Dennis, along with Stephen O'Neill and Margaret Flynn of Tarkington, O'Neill, Barrack & Chong, now represent Clay in a lawsuit against the county, the auction company, and the nursing home, with technical assistance from NCLR. A trial date has been set for July 16, 2010 in the Superior Court for the County of Sonoma.

April 23, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Study Predicts More Older Americans and Strains on Social Network

From our friends at the ElderLaw Answers Blog:
The MacArthur Foundation’s Research Network on an Aging Society has released a report predicting that by 2050 Americans may well live on average almost eight years longer than is predicted by the Census Bureau or the Social Security Administation.  More likely, life expectancy for males will be three years longer than now predicted, reaching 83 years and for females will be 4.5 years longer than predicted, reaching 89 years, both approximately a decade longer than today’s life expectancy.

If these predictions come true, it will have a significant impact on Social Security and Medicare expenditures, which are already facing bankruptcy (Medicare especially) under lower longevity forecasts.  Yet, the MacArthur Foundation Study, Aging in America in the Twenty-First Century: Demographic Forecasts from the MacArthur Foundation Research Netwok on an Aging Society, is not entirely pessimistic.

Check out the rest of the piece at:

April 21, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

AoA to hold listening sessions on reauthorization of OAA, Title V

Jane Oates, Assistant Secretary of for Employment and Training, U.S.  Department of Labor, and Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will hold a listening session on the upcoming reauthorization of Title V of the Older Americans Act.  Assistant Secretaries Oates and Greenlee are interested to hear stakeholders' thoughts on:

What aspects of the current Title V legislation are effective?
What aspects of Title V are not effective?
What innovations can you suggest?

During the session, stakeholders will have the opportunity to call in with statements (no longer than 3 minutes) to share with attendees.  In addition, written comments may be submitted via real-time chat, or emailed to at any time before or after the session.  Stakeholders may submit comments on reauthorization of all other titles of the Older Americans Act to Assistant Secretary Greenlee at:

Registration is now open!

Registration is limited and participation is first-come, first-served.  We encourage multiple participants from the same organization to register once and view this session from one location.  Please note you must first create an account (‘Signup’ link in upper right hand corner) on  in order to login and reserve a seat for this event at the link below.

Follow this link to register:

April 20, 2010 in Housing, Other | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 19, 2010


Table of Contents

The New Regime of Fiducie in French Law, in the Light of the Last Reforms (El Nuevo Régimen de Fiducie en el Derecho Francés a la Luz de las Ultimas Reformas) (Spanish)
Karolina Lyczkowska, affiliation not provided to SSRN

Inheritance Law and Limitation Periods Reform in Germany (La Reforma del Derecho de Sucesiones y de la Prescripción en Alemania) (Spanish)
Esther Arroyo Amayuelas, University of Barcelona - Faculty of Law

Remainder Trust Versus Preventive Remainder Substitution: The Express Will (Fideïcomís de Residu Versus Substitució Preventiva de Residu: La Voluntat Expressa) (Spanish)
Mariló Gramunt, University of Barcelona - Faculty of Law

The Reform of the Inheritance Tax in Catalonia (La Reforma del Impuesto Sobre Sucesiones en Cataluña) (Spanish)
Alberto Vega, affiliation not provided to SSRN

Fact-Based Fiduciary Accountability in Canada
Robert Flannigan, University of Saskatchewan

April 19, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Summary of caregiver support provisions in health care reform bill

Via the White House Blog:

The Middle Class Task Force developed a new Caregiver Initiative in the FY 2011 Budget to address the needs of the estimated 65 million Americans that provide unpaid care to seniors or people with disabilities. The historic health care legislation signed by the President  last Tuesday will complement and enhance the Task Force’s Initiative.  Let’s take a quick look at the ways in which health reform will help family caregivers and their loved ones.

First, the health reform legislation includes a provision called the CLASS Act, which establishes a new, voluntary long-term care insurance program for workers aimed at allowing them in the event of a disability to assist them in accomplishing life’s daily activities. After a 5-year vesting period, participants who experience a functional limitation would receive a cash benefit that could be used to purchase services and supports needed to maintain their independence at home or in the community including things like home modifications, assistive technology, accessible transportation, homemaker services, personal assistance services, home care aides, and nursing support. CLASS Act benefits can be used to compensate family caregivers, who often make huge financial sacrifices. And receiving benefits from this program would not have any effect on eligibility for other government programs.
Health reform will also provide much-needed support to Medicaid enrollees seeking home and community based services. Right now, there is a bias in the Medicaid program in favor of institutional rather than home and community-based care.  Under the Community First Choice Option in the health reform legislation, States can elect to provide with enhanced Federal funding self-directed, home and community-based attendant services and supports to Medicaid beneficiaries.  Additionally, the law provides additional funding for the Money Follows the Person program, which provides grants to states to help transition Medicaid-enrolled nursing home residents back into their communities.

The health reform legislation also creates a new Medicare pilot program aimed at helping patients and caregivers successfully negotiate the transition from a hospital stay to their homes or other care settings. And it provides new funding for Aging and Disability Resource Centers, which provide information and assistance to caregivers and people with long-term care needs.

Finally, the legislation establishes a nationwide system for States to run background check programs for employees of long-term care facilities and providers.  This proposal builds on a successful pilot program, which operated in seven states and kept thousands of individuals who had disqualifying records out of the long-term care workforce.  This new national system will give family members peace of mind by ensuring that all employees with direct access to patients have been screened.

As we have said on this blog before, the Middle Class Task Force’s Caregiver Initiative is just one modest step towards addressing the needs of caregivers.  Health care reform marks another important step forward.

April 16, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

President directs HHS to issue new rules regarding hospital visits and health care directives

President Obama has issued a Presidential memorandum to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) entitled "Respecting the Rights of Hospital Patients to Receive Visitors and to Designate Surrogate Decision Makers for Medical Emergencies."  The memorandum ensures that patients can receive compassionate care and equal treatment during their hospital stays regardless of whether the visitors are legally related to the patient, which includes same-sex partners and widows and widowers with no children.  Please read the Presidential memorandum at:

April 16, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

May Is National Elder Law Month

From our friends at the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (

Elder Law attorneys throughout the country contribute to their communities by educating seniors and people with disabilities about their legal needs and by providing pro bono services. By setting up activities in your area, you can help spread the word about the mission of NAELA -- to establish NAELA Members as the premier providers of legal advocacy, guidance, and services to enhance the lives of seniors and people with disabilities. You can organize a seminar at your local senior center, lecture about Elder Law at a local law school, or write an article or editorial for your local newspaper.

Click here for more information.

April 16, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Sponsored by Syracuse University College of Law
Vol. 2, No. 9: Apr 06, 2010 
Associate Professor, Syracuse University - College of Law

Table of Contents

The 2010 Retirement Confidence Survey: Confidence Stabilizing, but Preparations Continue to Erode
Ruth Helman, Mathew Greenwald & Associates
Craig Copeland, Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI)
Jack VanDerhei, Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), Temple University - Risk Management & Insurance & Actuarial Science

Antidiscrimination in Employment: The Simple, the Complex, and the Paradoxical
Samuel Issacharoff, New York University School of Law
Erin A. Scharff, New York University School of Law

Legal Issues Arising in the Process of Determining Decisional Capacity in Older Persons
Marshall B. Kapp, Florida State University - College of Law

Do Women Legislators Have a Politive Effect on the Supportiveness of States Toward Older Citizens?
Charles Lockhart, affiliation not provided to SSRN
Joanne Connor Green, affiliation not provided to SSRN
Jean Giles-Sims, affiliation not provided to SSRN

Reclaiming the Patient's Voice and Spirit in Dying: An Insight from Israel
Carmel Shalev, affiliation not provided to SSRN

April 14, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Based on a true story...

Received from my "elderly" Smith friend Joe Muldoon::

Dan was a single guy living at home with his father, and working in the family business.  When he found out he was going to inherit a fortune when his sickly father died, he decided he needed a wife with whom to share his fortune.  One evening at an investment meeting, he spotted the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.  Her natural beauty took his breath away.  I may look like just an ordinary man," he said to her, "but in a short ime my father will pass away, and I'll inherit 20 million dollars."  Obviously impressed, the woman asked him for his business card and three days later, she married his father. 

Further proof that women are much better at estate planning than men.

April 13, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Two Courts Take Differing Views on Transferring Property With Intent to Gain Medicaid Eligibility

From our friends at

A Massachusetts appeals court finds that a contract in which parents transferred property to their daughter so that they might avoid a Medicaid lien does not fail for lack of consideration because the daughter's promise to sell the property after her parents' death and distribute the proceeds to her sisters constituted valid consideration. Cascio v. D'Arcangelo (Mass. Ct. App., No. 09-P-1039, March 30, 2010).

Guiseppe and Donata D'Arcangelo had four daughters. In an attempt to protect their home from a Medicaid lien if either of them needed nursing home care, the D'Arcangelos transferred their home to their daughter, Bianca, retaining a life estate for themselves. The D'Arcangelos entered into an agreement with Bianca in which Bianca agreed to sell the property on their deaths and distribute the proceeds equally among the four daughters. After Mrs. D'Arcangelo died, Mr. D'Arcangelo changed his will and amended the agreement to change the distribution, giving only Bianca and another daughter the proceeds from the property.

After Mr. D'Arcangelo died, two of his daughters sought to enforce the original agreement. The trial court found that the original contract was valid, and Bianca appealed.

The Massachusetts Appeals Court affirms, holding that the contract does not fail for lack of consideration. The court finds that while none of the daughters paid any money or incurred any debt, Bianca's promise to take title to the property and sell it after her parents' death benefited the parents sufficiently to constitute consideration. According to the court, the "agreement reflected that it was the parents' goal to be eligible for Medicaid funding for nursing home care should the need arise, and transferring their property to Bianca played a critical role in achieving that goal."

A California Appeals Court rules that a mother's contract to sell property to her son is illegal and void because it was entered into with the purpose of obtaining Medicaid benefits. Lizaso v. Lizaso (Cal. Ct. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 4, No. B212749, March 25, 2010).

Before applying for Medicaid benefits, Epifania Lizaso transferred her property to her son, Manuel, under an agreement that stated that Manuel would pay an installment note and make monthly mortgage payments. The agreement also provided that Mrs. Lizaso had the right to declare forfeiture and get the property back. Manuel did not pay on the note or make mortgage payments for 15 years. Mrs. Lizaso eventually satisfied the mortgage.

Manuel attempted to take a loan out on the property, and Mrs. Lizaso declared forfeiture and filed a claim to get the property back. Mrs. Lizaso died while the claim was pending and the state filed a creditor's claim against her estate in an attempt to recover Medicaid payments made on her behalf. Mrs. Lizaso's executor pursued the claim to have the property returned to her estate. The trial court found that the sales agreement was illegal, and Manuel appealed.

The California Court of Appeals affirms, holding that the agreement to sell the property is illegal and void because it was entered into for the purpose of obtaining Medicaid benefits. The court notes that Manuel's lack of maintenance, care, and financial investment in the property support the conclusion that the transfer was illegitimate.

For the full text of the Cascio decision, go to:

For the full text of the Lizaso decision in PDF, go to: (If you do not have the free PDF reader installed on your computer, download it here.)

April 12, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Court Disallows Attorney Fees for Medicaid Applicant Wrongly Denied Benefits

A Kentucky appeals court reverses an award of attorney fees to a Medicaid applicant who was wrongly denied nursing home benefits and involuntarily removed from the facility for non-payment. Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Francis Dornbusch (KY, App., No. 2008-CA-002385-MR, April 2, 2010). 

To download the full text of this decision in PDF format, click here. (If you do not have the free PDF reader installed on your computer, download it here.)

April 9, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sebelius, Greenlee host webchat on health reform law

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to Host Webchat on Health Insurance Reform and Seniors

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Assistant Secretary for the Administration on Aging Kathy Greenlee will host a webchat today, Thursday, April 8, to discuss the benefits of the new health reform law as it relates to America's seniors. Sebelius and Greenlee will highlight some of the immediate benefits of health reform for America's seniors before answering pre-submitted questions from the public.


The chat is the second in a series of discussions that is designed to help Americans understand the benefits of the newly passed health insurance reform law.


Members of the public are encouraged to submit questions via email to HHS officials will try to answer as many questions as possible during the web chat and post questions and answers on the web site as well.


WHAT: Health Reform Weekly Webchat with HHS Secretary Kathleen

Sebelius, Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee and Principal Deputy Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Marilyn Tavenner


WHEN: Thursday April 8, 2010 at 1:00 p.m. EDT





April 8, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Medicare Rights Center President Talks about Health Reform

Medicare Rights Center President Joe Baker was a guest on Minnesota Public Radio's Midmorning with Kerri Miller on Friday, April 2. Along with guest Gail Wilensky, Mr. Baker discussed how health reform provisions will affect people with Medicare. Their discussion covered topics from the phase-out of the Medicare Part D "doughnut hole" to changes in provider reimbursements and subsidies to Medicare private plans.

Listen to the program

April 7, 2010 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Health Reform: What Changes Are in Store for the Elderly?

Via Elder Law Answers:

After a year of legislative wrangling and premature forecasts of death, historic legislation overhauling the nation's health insurance system has passed the Congress and been signed into law by President Obama. The measure that finally prevailed, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is the same legislation the Senate had approved on Christmas Eve of 2009, although it was amended somewhat by a separate "budget reconciliation" measure that President Obama also signed into law.

Because the core health reform measure enacted is the Senate version, much of what we wrote in our earlier article, "The Effects of Health Care Reform on Long-Term Care," still applies. Just substitute "the newly enacted law" wherever "the Senate bill" appears in the earlier article. The legislation that President Obama signed still contains:

  • The nation's first publicly funded national long-term care insurance program, the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act. Its original sponsor, the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, did not live to see one of his legislative dreams enacted into law;
  • A number of provisions aimed at ending Medicaid's "institutional bias," which forces elderly and disabled individuals in many states to move to nursing homes;
  • Provisions that will help protect nursing home residents and other long-term care recipients from abuses, and give families of nursing home residents more information about the facilities their loved ones are living in or considering moving to; and
  • The Elder Justice Act, which will establish an "Elder Justice Coordinating Council" and provide federal resources to support state and community efforts to fight elder abuse.

Help for Medicare Recipients and Early Retirees

Of perhaps greatest interest to seniors, the law will eventually close the Medicare Part D coverage gap known as the "doughnut hole." As most seniors know, the Medicare Part D prescription drug program covers medications up to $2,830 a year (in 2010), and then stops until the beneficiary's out-of-pocket spending reaches $4,550 in the year, when coverage begins again. Many seniors fall into this "doughnut hole" around Labor Day, at which point they have to pay for the medications out of pocket through the end of the year.

The law starts the process of closing the gap by providing a $250 rebate to Medicare beneficiaries who fall into the doughnut hole in 2010. Then, beginning in 2011 there will be a 50 percent discount on prescription drugs in the gap, and the gap will be closed completely by 2020, with beneficiaries covering only 25 percent of the cost of drugs up until they have spend so much on prescriptions that Medicare's catastrophic coverage kicks in, at which point copayments drop to 5 percent.

For the rest of this piece, go to

For the full text of the the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, click here.

For the full text of the Reconciliation Act of 2010, click here.

April 7, 2010 in Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, Medicare | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How creepy is this?

Via the BBC: 

Police have arrested two women after they tried to take the body of a dead relative on to a plane at Liverpool John Lennon Airport.  Staff became suspicious when they tried to check in 91-year-old Curt Willi Jarant, who was wearing sunglasses, for a flight to Berlin on Saturday.  The women - his widow and step-daughter - said they thought he was asleep.  hey were arrested on suspicion of failing to give notification of a death, police said.  The pair, who are German nationals but live in Oldham, Greater Manchester, have been released on bail.  Asked to describe her late husband, who she called Willi, Gitta Jarant said: "[He was] the best man of the world - good man.

You will definitely want to read the rest of this story....

April 6, 2010 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

HHS to unveil Open Government strategy

Via HHS E-News:

The Department of Health and Human Services invites you to participate in a live Webcast as the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services unveils its Open Government Plan.  This Plan seeks to take Open Government at HHS to the next level by expanding opportunities for sharing data with the public – especially though the use of new information and communications technologies.

What does this mean for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and how will it affect you? This webcast is an opportunity for you to ask these questions.  Please send your questions about our Open Government plan in advance to We will try to answer as many of them as we can during the live Webcast.

We hope you can join Chief Technology Officer at HHS, Todd Park, Director of the Office of Policy at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Karen Milgate, Principal Deputy Commissioner of the Food & Drug Administration, Joshua Sharfstein and Acting Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs at HHS Jenny Backus as they discuss Open Government at HHS, and what it means for you.

The Webcast is this Wednesday, April 7, at 1:30 PM EDT. Join us live at

This webcast will be a chance for you to understand how these improvements will affect you and how our plan will unfold in the coming weeks, months and years.

After the Webcast, visit to read and comment on our Plan.    

April 6, 2010 in Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, Medicare | Permalink | TrackBack (0)