Dear Friend of the Firm:
We wish you and your families a happy and healthy New Year. I would like to take a few moments to reflect on the “year in elder law” and update you on our elder and disability law firm.
Some of the highlights from the world of elder law in 2013 include:
- The Affordable Care Act (ACA) – The website certainly got off to a rocky start. Still, the ACA is the law of the land. Medicaid Expansion will begin in NJ in 2014, as well as the removal of preexisting conditions as a ground to deny health coverage. We will continue to provide you updates as needed on the ACA.
- New Jersey Comprehensive Waiver – The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved New Jersey’s request to revise its home and community based Medicaid Waiver program in October 2012. Among other revisions, New Jersey’s Medicaid income cap will be removed to allow additional residents to be eligible for home and community based Medicaid programs. However, New Jersey has yet to implement the federally approved Waiver. New Jersey currently has stated the Waiver will be implemented on July 1, 2014.
- Medicare Changes Improvement Standard – On January 24, 2013, a federal judge approved a class action settlement to remove Medicare’s “Improvement Standard”. For many Medicare beneficiaries receiving skilled services in a nursing home, outpatient setting, or through home health services, they often get cut off too early. Providers were ending services because the client was not showing any progress. Following the settlement, Medicare will be changing its rules to read that as long as the skilled services are necessary to maintain functioning, the beneficiary can keep receiving those skilled services regardless of whether the beneficiary is showing any improvement or progress. The changes should allow patients to receive more therapy. There will still be caps and limits to services. (e.g., there is a 100-day benefit period to receiving rehab services in a skilled nursing facility that will not change).
From a firm perspective, the big event of 2013 was the move to the newly expanded South Jersey office. The larger office will allow us to continue to expand the services we provide seniors, those with disabilities and their loved ones.
As to legal accomplishments in 2013, we are proud of our successful Medicaid federal court litigation. We filed a federal lawsuit in three cases involving Medicaid eligibility denials as a result of the purchase of an annuity. In each case, we were successful in overturning the denial of Medicaid benefits. A special thank you to Jane Fearn-Zimmer, our senior associate attorney, who handled the majority of the litigation.
On a personal note, in September 2013, I completed my one year as President of the Life Care Planning Law Firm Association (LCPLFA). In May 2013, I was elected President of the New Jersey Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.
We continue with our goal of attempting to have the best staff possible to help our clients and families navigate the long-term care planning puzzle. To that end, in September 2013, we welcomed Kara Lee as our Outreach Coordinator. Kara brings over ten years’ experience in assisted living marketing to our office.
In November 2013, we were delighted to welcome the addition of Amy Jo Gradel as a Public Benefits Specialist. Amy Jo brings to us a wealth of experience in Medicaid and long-term care planning based upon her extensive experience at the Camden County Office of Aging.
Also in November 2013, Linda Lawrence joined our team as our Client Services Coordinator. Most recently, Linda was employed as an office manager in a 55 and over community.
Beginning in January 2014, we are pleased to welcome Bryan Adler, Esquire, as an associate attorney. Bryan has worked in elder and disability law in Pennsylvania for the past several years. Bryan will be primarily working out of our Trevose, PA and Center City Philadelphia offices.
Rothkoff Law Group served over 325 clients in 2013. This includes helping over 60 clients access the Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefits, assisting over 85 clients plan for Medicaid as part of their long-term care, and advocating for over 180 clients to ensure quality care in a community or long-term care setting.
We could not have done this without the assistance of our knowledgeable and dedicated team. I am very proud of the elder law firm staff we have assembled to assist our clients and their families. It is privilege and a pleasure to work with each of them.
Please feel free to visit our updated website, www.rothkofflaw.com, for information on elder law news, visit our blogs, as well information on our 2014 professional and caregiver seminars, as well as speaking engagements.
There are still many issues facing our country as a whole: continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act, future changes to both Medicare and Medicaid, and continued growth of the population over age sixty-five. There will no doubt be continued changes in our healthcare system in the way that services are delivered and paid for. This is certainly a challenging time and there still appears to be no good or new solutions for taking care of our population that is dealing with chronic care issues.
We are always attempting to improve the services we offer. The success of our firm is a direct reflection of our clients and the referral sources that have supported us. Therefore, we actively welcome your referrals and encourage you to contact our office should you have any suggestions, questions or concerns regarding yourself or a loved one. On behalf of our entire elder law office team, we wish you and your families a very prosperous and healthy 2014.
Jerold E. Rothkoff