Healthcare Reform and Long-Term Care

The healthcare reform bill signed by President Obama this week will have an impact on nursing homes and long-term care. The most dramatic change will come in the form of long-term care insurance, and provision that was long championed by the Senator Edward Kennedy. Under the Community Living Assistance Services and Support Act (CLASS), all Americans will automatically be enrolled in a long-term care insurance program, but will have the option to opt out.

Under the Act, individuals will start paying a premium immediately, and will be able to use the benefit after five years of contribution to the program. The benefit, though, is not much, as it is expected to be about $50 per day to offset other long-term care costs.

The healthcare reform bill will also start to close the “donut hole” in Medicare Part D coverage for prescription drugs. Patients will immediately begin receiving a rebate for drug costs that fall into the gap, and drug manufacturers will be required to provide a discount on brand name drugs. Over time, the gap in coverage will be phased out entirely.

The Nursing Home Transparency and Improvement Act is also part of the bill, and will require nursing homes to provide consumers with more information about nursing homes and the quality of care they provide. It will also provide better weapons for enforcing quality standards in nursing facility, and encourage homes to improve on their own. AARP has called the transparency bill “one of the most significant nursing home reform initiatives” in two decades.

Finally, the bill contains the Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act, which will create a national system of background checks, to keep nursing home workers with criminal histories out of the long-term care setting.

Sources: SeniorJournal.com and HealthLeadersMedia.com.

The nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers at the Walton Law Firm represent seniors and dependent adults throughout California who have been abused or neglected in the skilled nursing facility, residential care facility for the elderly, and assisted living setting. Call (760) 571-5500 for a free and confidential consultation.