Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Tampa Bay Area SNF Closes After Medicare Loss

My local paper, the Tampa Bay Times, reported a story, A Florida nursing home lost its Medicare benefits. Residents lost a home. The article covers the impact on residents being forced to locate, the corporate structure of the SNF, and various issues regarding resident care.  The article notes that "[the nursing home ...  became the latest in Florida formerly affiliated with Consulate Health Care to lose its federal benefits since May because of poor patient care. The federal government considers termination of Medicare and Medicaid a “last resort,” implemented only after “all other attempts” fail to resolve health and safety deficiencies."  The full article is available here.

July 27, 2022 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, Medicare | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 25, 2022

Do Federally Exempt Nursing Homes, Assisted Living, and Continuing Care Communities Also Qualify as "Institutions of Purely Public Charity?"

The latest in a series of senior-care related cases is making  its way through the Pennsylvania appellate courts, asking whether a federally tax exempt senior living facility -- one that offers a range of options including independent living, "supported" independent living, personal care, and skilled care, although it isn't licensed as a CCRC -- can also qualify for state property and sales tax exemptions. 

Pennsylvania, in ways similar to many states, allows a federal charitable tax exemption under Rev. Code Section 501(c)(3) to serve as the basis for state exemptions from income taxes, but a separate state statute sets tougher requirements to qualify as a "purely public charity" in order to avoid responsibilities to pay real property, sales and use taxes.  July 2022 PBQ Article on State Tax Exemptions.CoverNursing homes, intermediate care settings (such as personal care or assisted living), and continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) often rely on federal revenue rulings that recognize historical grounds to exempt "homes for the aged" from taxation.  See e.g., Rev. Rul. 72-124 (also available at 1972 WL 30720).  But on a fairly regular basis, Pennsylvania taxing authorities have challenged such enterprises as not being "sufficiently" charitable.  Compare, for example In re St. Margaret Seneca Place, 640 A.2d 380 (Pa. 1994) (upholding state tax exemptions for a nursing home) with Appeal of Dunwoody Village, 52 A.3d 408 (Pa. Commw. 2012) (denying state tax exemption for a CCRC).   In September 2021, a panel of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, using a "totality of the circumstances" approach concluded that the facility failed to donate a substantial portion of its services, and failed to show it benefits a substantial and indefinite class of persons who are subjects of charity.  See  Friends Boarding Home of Western Quarterly Meeting v. Commonwealth, 260 A.3d. 1064 (Pa. Commw. 2021).


The case is now under  review for en banc consideration by the full Commonwealth Court, and there are indications the case might go all the way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  Working with my former Elder Protection Clinic colleague, Douglas Roeder, Esq., we examine a series of cases and trends under Pennsylvania law, including those involving senior living enterprises,  as reasons to consider larger implications for federal and state exemptions based on charitable grounds.  See Putting the Charity Back in Purely Public Charities (July 2022). 

July 25, 2022 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Retirement, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Did You Catch the SSA and Medicare Trustees' Reports?

 Early last month, the SSA Trustees released their annual report. Here's the bottom line:

 The combined asset reserves of the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance (OASI and DI) Trust Funds are projected to become depleted in 2035, one year later than projected last year, with 80 percent of benefits payable at that time.

The OASI Trust Fund is projected to become depleted in 2034, one year later than last year’s estimate, with 77 percent of benefits payable at that time. The DI Trust Fund asset reserves are not projected to become depleted during the 75-year projection period.

The full report is available here.

The Medicare Trustees also released their 2022 annual report, which is available here. Here's the bottom line for Medicare:

  • The Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund, or Medicare Part A, which helps pay for services such as inpatient hospital care, will be able to pay scheduled benefits until 2028, two years later than reported last year. At that time, the fund’s reserves will become depleted and continuing total program income will be sufficient to pay 90 percent of total scheduled benefits.
  • The Supplementary Medical Insurance (SMI) Trust Fund is adequately financed into the indefinite future because current law provides financing from general revenues and beneficiary premiums each year to meet the next year’s expected costs. Due to these funding provisions and the rapid growth of its costs, SMI will place steadily increasing demands on both taxpayers and beneficiaries.
  • For the sixth consecutive year, the Trustees are issuing a determination of projected excess general revenue Medicare funding, as is required by law whenever annual tax and premium revenues of the combined Medicare funds will be below 55 percent of projected combined annual outlays within the next 7 fiscal years. Under the law, two such consecutive determinations of projected excess general revenue constitute a “Medicare funding warning.”  Under current law and the Trustees’ projections, such determinations and warnings will recur every year through the 75-year projection period.   

Oh, and remember the hefty increase in the Part B premiums for 2022? It's going to be rolled back-just not this year.

[T]he Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a report that recommends cost savings from lower-than-expected Medicare Part B spending be passed along to people with Medicare Part B coverage in the calculation of the 2023 Part B premium. Earlier this year, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra instructed CMS to reassess the 2022 Part B premium amount in response to a price reduction for Aduhelm™, a monoclonal antibody directed against amyloid for use in treating Alzheimer’s disease. Given the information available today, it is expected that the 2023 premium will be lower than 2022. The final determination will be made later this fall

 

July 13, 2022 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicare, Social Security | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Will Medicaid Tie Quality Care to the Funds?

According to an article in Kaiser Health News about a month ago, Medicaid Weighs Attaching Strings to Nursing Home Payments to Improve Patient Care.

The Biden administration is considering a requirement that the nation’s 15,500 nursing homes spend most of their payments from Medicaid on direct care for residents and limit the amount that is used for operations, maintenance, and capital improvements or diverted to profits.

If adopted, it would be the first time the federal government insists that nursing homes devote the majority of Medicaid dollars to caring for residents.

The strategy, which has not yet been formally proposed, is among several steps officials are considering after the covid-19 pandemic hit vulnerable nursing home residents especially hard. During the first 12 months of the pandemic, at least 34% of the people killed by the virus lived in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities even though residents of those facilities make up fewer than 1% of the U.S. population.

CMS has asked for public comment. The article discusses the position of supporters and opponents of the proposal.

July 10, 2022 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Will Congress Pass Medicare Drug Negotiated Pricing?

Last week Roll Call reported that the "Senate draft[ed] [a] last-ditch drug pricing plan ahead of midterms." This would allow "Medicare [to] negotiate prices directly with manufacturers for some prescription drugs ahead of the midterm elections, according to a summary of the plan obtained by CQ Roll Call."  This was an integral part "of Democrats’ sweeping social spending and climate bill after intra-party divisions killed the original legislation" the article reports. The article describes the proposal.  Since there's only about 3 weeks before the August recess, we'll know the outcome soon.

July 6, 2022 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicare | Permalink | Comments (0)

Podcast on Quality SNF Care

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care has a podcast on Pursing Quality Long-Term Care. Here is a short description of the podcast: "Long-term care is or will be a fact of life for many of us and our loved ones as we age. We all deserve care – whether in the home or in a long-term care facility – that meets the highest of standards, enhancing quality of life and ensuring the protection of rights."  You need iTunes to listen. This is one in a series of topical podcasts, which you can access here.

 

July 6, 2022 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Medicaid, Medicare | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 1, 2022

New Nursing Home Report from National Academies

The National Academies on Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has released a new report, The National Imperative to Improve Nursing Home Quality: Honoring Our Commitment to Residents, Families, and Staff (2022).

Nursing homes play a unique dual role in the long-term care continuum, serving as a place where people receive needed health care and a place they call home. Ineffective responses to the complex challenges of nursing home care have resulted in a system that often fails to ensure the well-being and safety of nursing home residents. The devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on nursing home residents and staff has renewed attention to the long-standing weaknesses that impede the provision of high-quality nursing home care.

With support from a coalition of sponsors, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine formed the Committee on the Quality of Care in Nursing Homes to examine how the United States delivers, finances, regulates, and measures the quality of nursing home care. The National Imperative to Improve Nursing Home Quality: Honoring Our Commitment to Residents, Families, and Staff identifies seven broad goals and supporting recommendations which provide the overarching framework for a comprehensive approach to improving the quality of care in nursing homes.

You can download a pdf of the report for free (need to create an account or download as a guest), read it online, or purchase a print copy

July 1, 2022 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Billing Issues with Some Medicare Advantage Plans?

The Washington Post ran an article recently,  Beat cancer? Your Medicare Advantage plan might still be billing for it.

According to the article, the U.S. filed a false claims lawsuit in California against a health system, which is just one of others filed by the Government "on abusive billing practices in Medicare Advantage ...  [by] pursuing civil lawsuits against multiple companies that participate in the privatized system, from huge insurers to prestigious nonprofit hospital systems, alleging they have cheated the system for unfair profit."  The article notes that the industry's position is that the "firms adhere to Medicare’s rules and follow the system’s guidance on regulations that are not always clear. Moreover, the industry says that listing all health issues on medical records is a crucial part of Medicare Advantage’s promise to anticipate health problems, proactively manage disease and reduce hospitalizations."  Read the full article to learn more.

June 16, 2022 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Cases, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicare | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

New Article on Reverse Mortgages

CNBC ran an article last month  Here’s what you need to know about reverse mortgages. Here's what the article points out

With the stock market getting volatile but the housing market still hot, reverse mortgages have become a more attractive tool for older Americans who need cash for retirement but want to stay in their homes.

Home Equity Conversion Mortgage loan volume was up 26% in March, according to data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reported by service provider Reverse Market Insight. It dropped 3.8% in April but remained well above 6,000 loans for the month — above the average in the last few years.

As the article notes, a significant number of elders have home equity, "about 66% of the average retired American’s wealth," although costs are higher as a result of  a 2017 HUD rule change. The article lists and discusses the pros and cons of reverse mortgages. 

June 15, 2022 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Housing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Two Hundred Years of Guns.... What if you knew the outcome when you were writing the Second Amendment?

Alexander Merezhko, a good friend since he was a visiting Fulbright Scholar at Dickinson Law from his home country of Ukraine, is now a member of Ukraine's parliament and a senior legal advisor to President Zelenskyy.  We email regularly about events in our respective countries; of course, there is a lot for us to discuss.  Recently, Alexander mentioned that discussions were underway about legalizing individual gun ownership in his country.  Suffice it to say, Professor Merezhko is worried about what happens after the war.  It seems likely the assault by Russian forces motivates those debates in Ukraine, but what about the future?  A similar struggle, America's own then-recent war for independence, was part of the context for the language of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, beginning with the words, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State...."  

Could America's Founding Fathers have dreamed that the contextual phrase would be dismissed as significant and the remaining words of the Second Amendment would be treated as a mandate that permits unrestricted sales of weapons to individuals who are not part of any well-regulated system?  There is a very interesting article with historical  details I've never considered in The New Yorker, titled How Did Guns Get So Powerful?From the article by Phil Klay:

We wonder how we got here. How did guns grow so powerful—both technically and culturally? Like automobiles, firearms have grown increasingly advanced while becoming more than machines; they are both devices and symbols, possessing a cultural magnetism that makes them, for many people, the cornerstone of a way of life. They’re tools that kill efficiently while also promising power, respect, and equality—liberation from tyranny, from crime, from weakness. They’re a heritage from an imagined past, and a fantasy about protecting our future. It’s taken nearly two hundred years for guns to become the problem they are today. The story of how they acquired their power explains why, now, they are so hard to stop.

Why am I writing about guns (again) in the Elder Law Prof Blog?  The need for better support for mental health for youth and elders is part of what needs to be addressed.  Sadly, guns are part of a larger story not just for 18 year-olds in New York or Texas, but also for older Americans, as "firearm suicides are one of the leading causes of death for older Americans."  See Firearm Suicides in the Elderly: A Narrative Review and Call for Action, published in 2021 in the Journal of Community Health.  

June 11, 2022 in Cognitive Impairment, Crimes, Current Affairs, Ethical Issues, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, International, State Statutes/Regulations, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

FBI & Others Offer Elder Justice Initiative Webinars

With World Elder Abuse Awareness Day fast approaching, I'm getting several emails about various educational opportunities during the month of June. Several agencies have partnered to offer a health care fraud webinar series.  The upcoming webinars include Elder Justice: A Case Study of Abuse/Neglect  on June 15, Elder Justice: A Case Study in Health Care Fraud on June 22, and Elder Justice: A Q&A about health care fraud, abuse, and neglect on June 29.  The webinars are all free and open to everyone.

June 8, 2022 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Webinars | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

When It Comes to Guns, Age Matters

I suspect I'm not alone in thinking about guns this morning in the wake of the Texas shooting at a grade school in Uvalde Texas.  This post reflects matters I've been thinking about for a long time.  Indeed, thirty years ago I considered making gun violence a core academic research topic, until I realized how potent is the lobby supporting gun sales, and therefore gun ownership.

First, this morning I listened to a young man, David Hogg, speaking to an NPR interviewer about his own frustrations in opposing gun violence.  He urged legislators at state and national levels to do at least "one thing" to move forward on gun safety legislation.  My first reaction was "one thing?"  How is that going to help?  

Second, I heard a bit more about the background of the 18 year old shooter in Texas, as well as the background of the similarly-aged shooter in Buffalo New York.   More memories.  In one of my previous lives, I volunteered for a neighborhood tutoring program in New Mexico.  My first two students, in high school, had been sent to the program by judges trying to help youths in crime-related incidents.  One young man attended once -- and then disappeared.

I managed to have a good session with the other student, a junior in high school, who at my request wrote a short essay about what he saw as his future.  The 500 word piece was quite well written, and gave us something we could definitely use to gently work to improve his reading and writing skills.  The focus, however, proved to be a window into the bleak outlook of a young man who was involved in a so-called gang.  To put it simply, he saw no future for himself after high school.  He said with utter confidence that his high school "had" to graduate him regardless of whether he did any more work, as long as he merely attended class.  I didn't want to believe that, but he had plenty of evidence to support his hypothesis. He didn't have any post graduation plans.  He had equal confidence that he probably wasn't going to make it to age 21.  The following week during our tutoring session, he was creative in his resistance to my role as a tutor.  He turned in his next essay, but it was written entirely in what was some sort of "tagger's script," the stylized script he used when spray-painting his messages on public building.  Tagging was his only crime at that moment.  

I eventually decided to volunteer for younger students, and in fact I had a two-year working student-tutor relationship with a grade school boy who was in the program at his mother's insistence.  Actually, I got to know the whole family, including his parents and a sister who also sometimes attended our reading sessions (and she helped turn reading into a competitive adventure).  To mark the success of his "graduation" from the program, we went to a Phoenix Suns basketball game, because the opposing team that day had a player much admired by my student.  At his comparatively "youthful" age, he had written about his plans for the future, including somehow, against all genetic odds, planning to "grow" tall enough to be a professional basketball player, like his idol, Nate Archibald.  We talked about coaching as an alternative -- just in case.

I remember the difference in these individuals as I listen to the troubled histories of the two "boys" who bought guns as part of their 18th birthday celebrations.  I don't know what happened to most of the other the students involved in the tutoring program.  The second student dropped out of the program for reasons I never learned, but I later saw his name in the newspaper when he was accused of being the driver in a car-jacking where his "friend" shot the woman who resisted having her car taken.  Sadly, that student's essay was prophetic, as any true dreams for a future may have ended with that crime.

So, if we are going to do at least "one thing," could we -- should we -- focus on raising the threshold age for gun ownership?  Should we give young people in their late teens more  time to grow older (and "taller" or more mature) and thus to reach a point where the future seems brighter?  I'm not suggesting they cannot participate in shooting sports, hunting, and the military, where we hope their use and skill building would be supervised by knowledgeable people. I am suggesting making it unlawful for them to "own" or at least to purchase guns until they are older. Research suggests that substantially more crimes of gun violence against others are committed by individuals between the ages of 17 and 21.  There is research to support restricting gun ownership (and therefore gun sales) to individuals over 21 as one step forward in terms of safety. 

For example, in June 1999, a "collaborative report" under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Justice noted in part:

In 1996, 26,040 people in the United States were killed with guns.  In 1997, offenders age 18, 19, and 20 ranked first, second, and third in the number of gun homicides committed.  Of all gun homicides where an offender was identified, 24 percent were committed by this age group, which is consistent with the historical pattern of gun homicides over the past 10 years.  

Other statistics suggest that gun-related suicide death rates are highest for females age 45 to 64 and for males age 75 and older, statistics that point to another form of age-specific gun tragedies. Age matters.

That first boy who "disappeared" after the first tutoring session?  I later learned he had been killed in a neighborhood shooting.  Would younger adults support delayed lawful-ownership as one form of protection against gun violence?   Certainly, more is needed on so many other levels including mental health supports. But could "one thing" -- at least -- include blocking gun sales to people who are still in the process of learning to plan for the future, for their futures?  

 

May 25, 2022 in Cognitive Impairment, Crimes, Current Affairs, Ethical Issues, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Science, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 8, 2022

HHS Inspector General Report on MA Plans

The Inspector General of HHS recently released this report,  Some Medicare Advantage Organization Denials of Prior Authorization Requests Raise Concerns About Beneficiary Access to Medically Necessary Care.

Here's the OIG explanation why they did the study:

A central concern about the capitated payment model used in Medicare Advantage is the potential incentive for Medicare Advantage Organizations (MAOs) to deny beneficiary access to services and deny payments to providers in an attempt to increase profits. Although MAOs approve the vast majority of requests for services and payment, they issue millions of denials each year, and CMS annual audits of MAOs have highlighted widespread and persistent problems related to inappropriate denials of services and payment. As Medicare Advantage enrollment continues to grow, MAOs play an increasingly critical role in ensuring that Medicare beneficiaries have access to medically necessary covered services and that providers are reimbursed appropriately.

What the OIG found shows that "MAOs sometimes delayed or denied Medicare Advantage beneficiaries' access to services, even though the requests met Medicare coverage rules. MAOs also denied payments to providers for some services that met both Medicare coverage rules and MAO billing rules." They also found that 13% of denied prior authorizations met the coverage rules and that additionally some denials were made based on lack of documentation but OIG found sufficient documentation had been provided. 18% of payment request denials met the Medicare coverage rules.

Here are their recommendations

Our findings about the causes and circumstances under which MAOs denied prior authorization or payment for requests that met Medicare coverage and MAO billing rules provide an opportunity for improvement to ensure that Medicare Advantage beneficiaries have timely access to all necessary health care services, and that providers are paid appropriately. Therefore, we recommend that CMS:

  • issue new guidance on the appropriate use of MAO clinical criteria in medical necessity reviews;
  • update its audit protocols to address the issues identified in this report, such as MAO use of clinical criteria and/or examining particular service types; and
  • direct MAOs to take additional steps to identify and address vulnerabilities that can lead to manual review errors and system errors.

The full report is available here.

May 8, 2022 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicare | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 2, 2022

ACL New Fact Sheet When Public Health Emergency Expires

The Administration for Community Living has released a new fact sheet on what will happen to elders and Medicaid when the public health emergency expires. This fact sheet includes 5 things 

  1. Medicaid beneficiaries should make sure their Medicaid agency has their current contact information. They should check their mail and be sure to mail back any Medicaid forms they receive.
  2. All renewal forms and notices must be accessible to people with limited English proficiency and people with disabilities.
  3. Many people who are no longer eligible for Medicaid will have other coverage options.
  4. If someone is disenrolled or their Medicaid coverage changes and they disagree with their state Medicaid agency’s decision, they can appeal.
  5. The end of the Public Health Emergency may lead to an increase in utilization of services provided by Older Americans Act programs, Centers for Independent Living, Assistive Technology Act programs, and other ACL grantees.

The fact sheet contains useful explanations and is available for download.

May 2, 2022 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 29, 2022

Filial Friday: Virginia Governor Blocks Attempt to Repeal Virginia Filial Support Law

As is true with several U.S. states, Virginia has a filial support statute that can obligate adult children to support their parents.  The key language of VA Code Ann. Section 20-88 provides:

It shall be the joint and several duty of all persons eighteen years of age or over, of sufficient earning capacity or income, after reasonably providing for his or her own immediate family, to assist in providing for the support and maintenance of his or her mother or father, he or she being then and there in necessitous circumstances. 

 

If there be more than one person bound to support the same parent or parents, the persons so bound to support shall jointly and severally share equitably in the discharge of such duty. . . .

 

This section shall not apply if there is substantial evidence of desertion, neglect, abuse or willful failure to support any such child by the father or mother, as the case may be, prior to the child's emancipation or, except as provided hereafter in this section, if a parent is otherwise eligible for and is receiving public assistance or services under a federal or state program. . . . 

There are few modern cases applying this law. In Peyton v. Peyton, an "unreported" Virginia chancery court decision from 40 years ago, the court applies the law to obligate one brother to reimburse another brother $8,000, representing half of the past out-of-pocket expenses for their mother's care in a nursing home. A careful reading of the Peyton case reveals one of the challenges of applying filial support laws when used to collect "back" expenses; here the second son was willing to pay a portion of their mother's monthly costs going forward but he was not successful in arguing a statute of limitations should apply to prevent liability for multiple years of back claims. 

As with other American states that have had forms of filial support laws, Virginia's law was enacted as an alternative to public welfare laws because the common law generally found no legal duty for adult children to support indigent parents.  But, in Virginia, again as in most American states, the filial support laws are largely dormant, misunderstood or ignored, especially after Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid laws were enacted on a federal level beginning in the 1960s.  

Virginia's  statute was amended decades ago to restrict use of the law by the state to seek reimbursement for its costs in providing public services (such as "medical assistance" a/k/a Medicaid).  However, unlike the filial laws of most states, Virginia's law permits criminal prosecution as a misdemeanor for "any person violating the provisions of an order" of support under this statute, with a fine not exceeding $500 or imprisonment in jail for up to 12 months.  I find no reported cases of criminal enforcement actions.

Recognizing that other states (including neighboring Maryland in 2017) had recently taken formal action to repeal filial support laws as outdated or impractical, Virginia Senator Adam Ebbin introduced 2022 Senate Bill 389 to repeal Virginia's law. Senator Ebbin's bill passed with no dissenting votes in the Virginia Senate.  The final vote in the Virginia House, on March 11, 2022, supported repeal with 81 voting in favor, and only 16 members voting in opposition to repeal. In other words, repeal was not a controversial measure; rather it appeared to be part of an attempt to clean-up hoary laws, and it attracted strong bipartisan support.

Nonetheless, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (sworn into office in January 2022) vetoed the repeal on April 11, 2022.  His reasoning for preserving filial support laws is unique, at least in my 20-some years of experience researching filial support laws (see e.g., Filial Support Laws in the Modern Era: Domestic and International and International Comparison of Enforcement Practices for Laws Requiring Adult Children to Support Indigent Parents, 20 Elder Law Journal 269 (2013)).  

The governor's veto statement explains:

"Primarily, the Commonwealth's filial responsibility law supports those who care for their elderly parents.  In establishing a bankruptcy budget, the court allows for necessary and reasonable expenditures and the repeal of Section 20-88 could prevent an individual from covering these expenses within the budget of their debtor.  For those undergoing bankruptcy proceedings, there is a grave risk of unforeseeable and unintended consequences, which may harm people going through some of the most difficult times in their lives."

On the one hand, in today's torn asunder political scene, no one should be surprised that a newly elected governor of one party would be vetoing legislation sponsored by a member of the other party -- and that is true here, with a Republican governor vetoing a bill proposed by a Democrat.  

But what about the proffered reason for the veto?  Virginia's law does not "primarily" support those who care for their elderly parents.  Rather, it creates an obligation for adult children. Is there any precedent for a theory that Virginia's filial support law permits some type of sheltering of assets for a debtor in bankruptcy court, to provide a means of financial support for the (also) destitute parent?  Certainly I find no modern cases on Lexis or Westlaw suggesting such use or even a need for such use.  

There is a reported case from 1938 in Virginia.  In Mitchell-Powers Hardware Co. v. Eaton, 198 S.E. 496 (Supreme Court of Appeals, VA 1938), the court addressed a question of whether a transfer of valuable stock by a debtor to his sister was voidable as an invalid gift.  Was this an invalid attempt to defeat a legitimate creditor's lien against the asset? The court recognized that under Virginia's predecessor version of Statute 20-88, the debtor "could" have an obligation to assist his sister in the care of their elderly mother. The appellate court remanded the case for a jury determination of whether the mother was actually destitute and in need of the son's financial support. (The sister had further transferred the stock in question onward to the debtor's son).  This hardly seems a persuasive case for characterizing filial support laws as necessary "support for those who care for their elderly parents."

April 29, 2022 in Crimes, Current Affairs, Estates and Trusts, Ethical Issues, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, Medicare, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

SNF Medicare Funding Proposal

On April 11, CMS announced it was proposing a decrease in Medicare funding to SNFs, according to an article in Skilled Nursing News. CMS’s Proposed $320M Decrease in Nursing Home Medicare Funding Could Be ‘Ruinous’ for Struggling Operators

The federal government on Monday proposed its payment rate update to nursing home reimbursements for fiscal 2023, which includes a 4.6% cut related to the Patient-Driven Payment Model.

That cut from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) amounts to a total loss of $320 million, according to the agency.

CMS – in its SNF Prospective Payment System proposed rule – recommended a 3.9%, or $1.4 billion, payment increase to the industry. The government agency arrived at that number by raising the market basket rate for skilled nursing facilities by 2.8%, a 1.5 percentage point forecast error adjustment and a 0.4-percentage-point multifactor productivity adjustment.

The article goes into detail about the CMS position, what is driving it and the impact it would have on the industry.  The CMS release about their proposal and the comment period is available here: Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Skilled Nursing Facility Prospective Payment System Proposed Rule (CMS 1765-P).

The Skilled Nursing News article also notes that CMS is looking for feedback on the issue of staffing standards. For more info on the staffing standards, see the CMS news release, HHS Takes Actions to Promote Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes.

 

April 27, 2022 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicare | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Reverse Mortgage May Not Be A Last Resort Any Longer

Professor Naomi Cahn sent me the link to this recent article in the New York Times, Reverse Mortgages Are No Longer Just for Homeowners Short on Cash. "Until recently, it was conventional wisdom that a reverse mortgage was a last-resort option for the oldest homeowners who desperately needed cash. But a growing number of researchers say these loans could be a good option for people earlier in their retirement like [those]  who are not needy at all."

The article offers the basics about reverse mortgages and offers some insights into the thinking about greater utility of reverse mortgages:

Homeowners in their 60s and early 70s could use cash from a reverse mortgage to protect investment portfolios during market downturns, to delay claiming Social Security benefits or to pay large medical bills.

“The best use of this tool is to provide and supplement income during retirement,” said ... the director of the financial planning program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. “A younger retiree can stay in the house while turning equity into an income stream.” 

The article discusses downsides for folks to consider as well.  Read it!

 

 

April 17, 2022 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Housing, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 14, 2022

AARP BankSafe Initiative Training for Retail

AARP has launched a new initiative to fight gift card scams. This is a super important project!  According to the website, 

With gift card fraud, a scammer may pretend to be someone they are not in an attempt to convince the unsuspecting person to pay them in gift cards. This type of scam can take many forms: • The scammer, claiming to be from “tech support,” says there is something wrong with a person’s computer, and that the person will need to pay in gift cards in order for tech support to fix the problem. • Posing as a user of a dating site, the scammer says they have an emergency and need another site user to help them by buying them gift cards. • Through a phone call the scammer pretends to be a relative in trouble who needs their target to send them gift cards. • Claiming to be from the IRS or Social Security, the scammer states that the person has a fine or owes back taxes that can only be paid by gift card. • The scammer impersonates the target’s utility company and threatens to shut off service unless they pay an overdue bill with gift cards.

More information about the scam and the training of retail employees is available here.

April 14, 2022 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Federal Statutes/Regulations, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Important Report on Nursing Homes from the National Academies

I've been a bit behind on posting and although this report was released 8 days ago, I wanted to be sure readers were aware of it. The National Imperative to Improve Nursing Home Quality: Honoring Our Commitment to Residents, Families, and Staff was released by the National Academies on Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Here is the description

Nursing homes play a unique dual role in the long-term care continuum, serving as a place where people receive needed health care and a place they call home. Ineffective responses to the complex challenges of nursing home care have resulted in a system that often fails to ensure the well-being and safety of nursing home residents. The devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on nursing home residents and staff has renewed attention to the long-standing weaknesses that impede the provision of high-quality nursing home care.

With support from a coalition of sponsors, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine formed the Committee on the Quality of Care in Nursing Homes to examine how the United States delivers, finances, regulates, and measures the quality of nursing home care. The National Imperative to Improve Nursing Home Quality: Honoring Our Commitment to Residents, Families, and Staff identifies seven broad goals and supporting recommendations which provide the overarching framework for a comprehensive approach to improving the quality of care in nursing homes.

You can download the report as pdf or read it online for no charge. You can buy a hard copy from this link.

Thanks to Morris Klein for alerting me to the release of this report.

April 14, 2022 in Books, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, Medicare | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Bill Introduced to Repeal Medicaid Estate Recovery

A bill, Stop Unfair Medicaid Recoveries Act, has been introduced in Congress to repeal Medicaid Estate Recovery and to limit liens.  The bill, HR 6698 addresses the elimination of estate recovery this way:

“(6) Notwithstanding any preceding provision of this subsection, no adjustment or recovery of any medical assistance correctly paid on behalf of an individual under the State plan may be initiated, maintained, or collected on or after the date of the enactment of this paragraph. Not later than 90 days after such date, a State shall withdraw any lien in effect as of such date with respect to such medical assistance correctly paid.”

The full text is available here.  Information about the bill, including the sponsor and co-sponsors, is available here. Thanks to attorney Jim Schuster for alerting us to this legislation.

April 3, 2022 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (1)