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Medicare’s Part B Premium Will Be Unchanged in 2018, But Many Will Pay More. Got That?

medicare part b premium 2018

When it comes to the 2018 Medicare premium, there’s good news and bad news.

The good news? The standard monthly Part B premium, which is what roughly 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries pay, will stay at 2017’s rate of $134 next year.

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The Duties of the Executor of a Will

wills in Bucks CountySo, you’ve been named the executor of a will. It’s not a job to take lightly. Dealing with wills in Bucks County – or anywhere else – means managing the administration of a person’s estate after they die.

And while the amount of time you need to commit to this role can vary, administering even a small estate comes with important responsibilities.

Here are a few of the things you’ll be expected to do as the executor of a will.

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New Protections for Nursing Home Residents

nursing home residentsLaws created during the Obama administration to give nursing home residents more control of their care are gradually going into effect. The rules give residents more options regarding meals and visitation as well as making changes to discharge and grievance procedures.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid finalized the rules in November 2016.  These rules are the first comprehensive update to nursing home regulations since 1991. The first group of new rules took effect in November. The rest will be phased in over the next two years.

Some of the new rules include:

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Time is Running Out: Review Your Medicare Options

medicare open enrollmentAre you happy with your current Medicare plan or plans?

You still have time to think about whether you are in the right plan or whether a new plan could save you money.

Medicare’s open enrollment period, in which you can enroll in or switch plans, expires December 7.

During this period you may enroll in a Medicare Part D (prescription drug) plan or, if you currently have a plan, you may change plans.

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What You Need to Know: Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act

elder law attorneyEvery year, America’s senior citizens lose close to $3 billion due to financial exploitation, either from scam artists or unscrupulous caregivers.

It’s this type of abuse that led lawmakers this year to pass the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act, put forward by Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and signed into law by President Trump in mid-October.

The law creates tougher penalties for frauds, expands information sharing rules to prevent financial fraud targeting seniors, and expands the federal criminal code to include email marketing schemes.

“Exploiting and defrauding seniors is cowardly, and these crimes should be addressed as the reprehensible acts they are,” Grassley, himself a senior citizen, said earlier this year.

When you work as an elder law attorney, you see people who have fallen victim to these sorts of crimes all too often. And while stronger penalties are no doubt a good thing, there are things you can do to prevent your loved ones from falling victim to financial elder abuse:

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Nursing Home Costs Rise Sharply in 2017

Nursing Home Costs in 2017

Want to live in a private nursing home room? Expect to pay more.

That’s according to Genworth’s 2017 Cost of Care survey of U.S. nursing homes, conducted by the insurer each year, which found that the median cost for a private room rose 5.5 percent between 2016 and 2017.

Genworth says the median cost of a private room is $97,455, while a semi-private room in a nursing home is $85,775, up 4.44 percent from 2016. This price increase is substantially larger than the 1.24 percent and 2.27 percent gains, respectively, in 2016.

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Long-Term Care Benefits for Veterans and Surviving Spouses

Veteran's Benefits in Bucks County

The cost of long-term care can add up quickly.

But if you’re a veteran — or the surviving spouse of a veteran — who needs nursing care, help is available in the form of an underused pension benefit called Aid and Attendance.

This program provides money to those who need help carrying out everyday tasks. It’s even open to veterans whose income is higher than the threshold for a VA pension, provided they have large medical expenses for which they do not receive reimbursement.

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Using a Prepaid Funeral Contract to Spend Down Assets for Medicaid

Meeting with an elder law attorney

No one wants to think about his or her death, but a little preparation in the form of a prepaid funeral contract can be useful. In addition to helping your family after your death, a prepaid funeral contract can be a good way to spend down assets in order to qualify for Medicaid.

A prepaid or pre-need funeral contract allows you to purchase funeral goods and services before you die. The contract can be entered into with a funeral home or cemetery. Prepaid funeral contracts can include payments for: embalming and restoration, room for the funeral service, casket, vault or grave liner, cremation, transportation, permits, headstones, death certificates, and obituaries, among other things.

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Hospitals Now Must Provide Notice About Observation Status

Seniors Hospital Medicaid

All hospitals must now give Medicare recipients notice when they are in the hospital under “observation.”  The notice requirement is part of a law enacted in 2015 that just took effect.

Signed by President Barack Obama in August 2015, the law was intended to prevent surprises after a Medicare beneficiary spends days in a hospital under “observation” and is then admitted to a nursing home. This is important because Medicare covers nursing home stays entirely for the first 20 days, but only if the patient was first admitted to a hospital as an inpatient for at least three days.  Many beneficiaries are being transferred to nursing homes only to find that because they were only under observation and were therefore hospital outpatients all along, they must pick up the tab for the subsequent nursing home stay — Medicare will pay none of it.

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