Emails and Can you believe everything on the internet?
There’s been a lot of debate over the recent Health Care Bill this year, enough to nearly tear our country apart at the seams. Or at least add another party…
Recently, I received an email blasting the Senate for yet another provision placed into the Bill. That’s the thing about emails though, you just don’t know the truth, do you? And so, I went on a reading/research quest to try to sort out the truth from the rumor and opinions, hoping to maybe lower some blood pressures along the way.
I am not saying I am for the Health Care Bill or against it. Think of me rather as a fact-finder. To begin with, the original Health Care Bill is 1,999 pages long. The most daunting or shall I say frustrating part of reading it is the fact that there are so many footnotes and referrals. If the reader does not have all of these reference resources available to them than how can one truly comprehend the entire document. Hence, on Friday March 19th, just two days before Congress was to vote on the original Bill, a reconciliation to the Bill was added.
A Real C.L.A.S.S. Act
The late, great Senator Ted Kennedy had enacted, what is now Federal law, the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” This is the basis for the C.L.A.S.S. Act to follow. What the provision of the Class Act does, is change the way the United States pays for long-term health care. This Act establishes a national voluntary insurance program that will allow for an individual (you or me) to pre-finance our needs for long-term care in the future. How? Through payroll deductions of course. Everyone is automatically enrolled, unless they opt out. You will NOT be penalized if you opt out. Of course, your children may bitch about it later when you need it the most, but let’s not think about that now.
So where does your money actually go? All premiums will be placed in a “Life Independence Account” that will be managed by the Department of Health and Human Services. Of course, students and those below poverty levels would pay nominal fees. That is of course if they are even working. Part-time workers are included though, unless they also opt out. According to the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid, today (2009) there are over 10 million people in need of long-term health care. Currently, Medicaid is the primary payer and the only ‘safety-net’ for the poor (Kaiser report).
Who qualifies and What the heck is Long-Term Care Anyway?
You qualify to receive monies from the Act if you are:
1. 18 years of age;
2. Enrolled for at least 5 years in the program (that means contributing people!);
3. Are determined by your State’s Disability Center (Yes, each State will have their own center) to be limited to:
a. An individual is unable to perform 2 or more daily activities of living such as eating, bathing, transporting, dressing…
b. Or; an individual who has the equivalent cognitive disability that requires hands on supervision such as Alzheimer’s disease, brain trauma or mental retardation.
4. All conditions must be expected to last more than 90 days.(Focus on Health Reform, page 1).
Bottom Line Folks (should I stop freaking out or start?)
Agreements or disagreements on the entire Health Care Plan aside (gladly or sadly, I think what’s done is done), this provision, the Class Act, is not a replacement for traditional health care. It is meant to work along, as a supplement to other services, long-term included. And, a person’s eligibility (whether you paid in or not or whether you are sick enough) does not effect you status/ability to qualify to other programs such as Social Security Retirement, Social Security Disability, Medicaid or other programs.
An average payroll deduction may be $123 per month, and the premium pay-out (after 5 years enrolled) would likely be $75 per day, never lower than $50 per day. Additionally, premiums are never to be raised, but payouts will increase with inflation. Unused pay-outs do roll over month to month, but not year to year.
From a personal standpoint, having cared for an 86 year old stroke victim in my home, until she passed away at 89 years of age (one day short of 90!), I really could have used the extra money. She had Medicare along with AARP supplemental (thank god for that one!), but still, there were things not covered such as a qualified person to relieve me, the caregiver or adult diapers, other bedding needs, and more. An extra fifty dollars a day could have certainly helped to off-set the cost of adult day care or at least allowed for a Certified Nurses aide to come to the home everyday for a few hours, a blessing if the family does want to keep a loved one at home as I did.
On the hand, I could not find an answer to these questions :
1. If I am unemployed, but my spouse works, does he pay for both of us?
2. If I suddenly stop paying after only paying in 3 years due to illness, do I lose that money? Do I qualify if deemed disabled? Recall, must be paying in for 5 years.
3. Can I stop paying in after the five years and still receive benefits later? For example, I paid in from age 60 to 65 and then retire. At 85 I need it. Can I still access the money I paid in?
Questions like these need to be addressed and clarified to the public. But, considering the way they wrote and voted on the original Health Care plan, I wouldn’t hold your breath. Considering that most folks don’t need long-term care until they are in their 80’s, I for one would not begin to pay into it until I was in my 40’s perhaps. Probably 60’s or 70’s! The one really bad thing about this is the automatic enrollment. Sort of like that “free magazine” that comes in the mail, they keep sending it to you even though you never ordered it. Rather than allowing you to decide to enroll, they have once again, made the decision for you. Does your seventeen year old need that deduction? Is he even aware of it? Today’s government has certainly given themselves enough pats on the back. A Class act? You decide.
The Original Health Care Bill in PDF (beware it is 1,999 pages long)