HEALTH REFORM LAW BENEFITS
LOW INCOME OLDER ADULTS
The National Senior Citizens Law Center continues to support full enactment of the Affordable Care Act based on what the law does to make health care for low income older adults more accessible, affordable and of higher quality.
We remain focused on ensuring effective implementation, especially in areas where low-income older adults are affected.
In addition, NSCLC has long opposed judicial activism and remains committed to fighting legal challenges to the health reform law in the courts.
How Health Reform Helps Low Income Older Adults
The ACA contains key elements that will benefit all seniors and several that are targeted to helping low income older adults in particular. Here are some examples:
· Medicaid funding begins this year for providing more long term care at home versus in a nursing home. A recent NSCLC report on the impact of the Supreme Court’s 1999 Olmstead Ruling, NSCLC called on states to take full advantage of expanded home and community based options that are built into the new law. In poll after poll, seniors and their families consistently have favored care at home to institutionalization.
· Better quality of care for close to nine million seniors and persons with disabilities who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid (dual eligibles). The law creates an “Office of Dual Eligibles” that is already working to improve the delivery of care to dual eligible seniors currently struggling to navigate systems that are far too complex and confusing.
The country’s low income older adults will also benefit from closing of the donut hole in Medicare prescription drug coverage, the addition of an annual wellness visit to Medicare, and of course the ending of insurance industry practices such as denying coverage because of age, gender or pre-existing conditions. Poor elders are often the target of abusers and the law contains funding for far greater efforts to prevent elder abuse.
Why Court Challenges Matter
The cases brought by several states focus on doing away with the individual mandate, but NSCLC argues that doing so would jeopardize the balance the law achieves between requiring people to have health insurance and forcing insurance companies to cover those who are already sick, too old or happen to be women.
For older adults without health insurance and a pre-existing condition, a court decision that finds the individual’s responsibility to have health insurance unconstitutional could be particularly problematic. The result would be the denial of health coverage to nearly half of all older adults between age 55 and 64. Recent studies show the percentage could be even higher.
The states in question, led by Republican governors and attorneys general, have launched an attack on Congressional power to enact social legislation. NSCLC is confident that the Supreme Court, when and if asked to rule on one of these cases, will ultimately find the requirement by Congress that individuals have minimum health coverage constitutional.
The National Senior Citizens Law Center is a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to protect the rights of low-income older adults. Through advocacy, litigation, and the education and counseling of local advocates, we seek to ensure the health and economic security of those with limited income and resources, and access to the courts for all. For more information, visit our Web site at www.NSCLC.org.
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