ElderLaw News — The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. — MD, VA, DC
ElderLaw News

ElderLaw News is a weekly e-newsletter that brings you reports of legal developments and other trends of vital interest to seniors and their advocates. This newsletter is brought to you by The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., William S. Fralin, Esq., President.

Medicare Update

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced that Medicare Advantage premiums for 2011 will be, on average 1% lower than in 2010.

Medicare beneficiaries who are enrolled in Medicare health and prescription drug plans should, for the most part, will find little or no change in their benefits in 2011, while more drug plans should be offering coverage in the “donut hole,” or prescription drug coverage gap. The Affordable Care Act should provide most beneficiaries in Medicare Advantage plans or in original Medicare with access to preventive benefits with no out-of pocket costs.

CMS Administrator Donald Berwick, M.D., states that “Medicare Advantage remains a strong and robust option for millions of seniors who choose to enroll or stay in a participating plan today and in the future. The Affordable Care Act gave us new authority to negotiate with health plans in a competitive marketplace. As a result, our beneficiaries will save money and maintain their benefits.” Jonathan Blum, Deputy Administrator and Director of CMS’s Center for Medicare, recommends that beneficiaries should review their current health and drug plan coverage and determine what they may need for next year. He says that “Medicare will continue to provide a wide-range of consumer tools to help beneficiaries make the best possible choice of coverage.” The annual enrollment period for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans begins November 15th. Beneficiaries should receive their 2011 Medicare & You Handbook and find updated information at www.medicare.gov and 1-800-Medicare in mid-October.

Almost all Medicare beneficiaries who have access to a Medicare Advantage plan today will continue to have access to a Medicare Advantage plan next year. Around 5% of non-employer beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage and stand-alone prescription drug plans will have to choose a new health plan or revert to original Medicare in 2011 because their current plan is not renewing its contract with Medicare in 2011. This percentage is similar to percentages in the past five years. Beneficiaries who do not enroll in another health plan will receive coverage under original Medicare, but they will have to enroll in a Part D plan to keep their drug coverage. All Medicare beneficiaries will continue to have many prescription drug plans available from which to choose. CMS will continue to send letters to beneficiaries to ensure that they take the steps necessary to have the health coverage that best meets their needs.

The Affordable Care Act provides some new benefits to Medicare beneficiaries. These benefits include some new free health screenings, free wellness visits, and a 50% discount on brand-name drugs for seniors who fall into the donut hole. Open enrollment materials will have information on these new benefits.

The attorneys at The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. can assist clients with their life care, estate, insurance, financial, veterans benefits and special needs planning issues.

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The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C.

The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. is an elder law firm. We represent older persons, disabled persons, their families, and their advocates. The practice of elder law includes estate planning, estate and trust administration, powers of attorney, advance medical directives, titling of assets and designations of beneficiaries, guardianships, conservatorships, and public entitlements such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and SSI, disability planning, income tax planning and preparation, care management, and fiduciary services. For more information about The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., please visit our website at http://www.chroniccareadvocacy.com.

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This newsletter is not intended as a substitute for legal counsel. While every precaution has been taken to make this newsletter accurate, we assume no responsibility for errors, omissions, or damages resulting from the use of the information in this newsletter. The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. thanks the law firm of Hook Law Center for their input to this newsletter.

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