The Elderly & Special Needs Patients and the Fiscal Cliff

In all the fiscal cliff nonsense of the last few weeks, here are a few provisions that affect the elderly and the disabled:

1. Remember how doctors were being threatened with a 27% pay cut for their Medicare patients? That threat went away. For a year. Set your clocks now for December 2013 when we get to watch this debate all over again.

2. Extension of the Medicaid payment of the Medicare Part B deductible for low-income folks. That’s the $99.90 that is deducted from your Social Security check every month. For low-income folks, Medicaid picks up payment for Medicare Part B. That was threatened to disappear. It’s been saved… until December 2013, anyway.

3. CLASS has officially been repealed. This was Ted Kennedy’s project, it was the first national response to our long-term care funding crisis. Lots of folks didn’t like it right from the beginning. Now it’s gone, and so far we still don’t have a national agreement on where we stand as a society on providing for long-term care.

4. Creation of the Commission on Long-Term Care. This outfit is supposed to develop recommendations for a national approach to establishing, implementing,and financing a long-term care system that establishes quality long-term care and supports. American history is littered with study groups whose recommendations and good work are ignored by Congress (sometimes for the good). We will wait to see who is appointed to this commission before we can predict whether their recommendations will be thoughtful and balanced or stilted in one direction. If the Commission is to be staffed in the thoughtful and balanced direction, then I expect that NAELA will advocate to have one of our knowledgeable thought leaders involved.