Sunday, April 13, 2014

Long-Term Care Commission Sets Additional Public Meetings

The Pennsylvania Long-Term Care Commission is working on recommendations on how to improve the long-term care system in Pennsylvania. 

The commission has until Dec. 31, 2014 to submit a plan to the governor that will set priorities and guidelines to improve the current long-term care system. As part of the development of that plan, the commission is seeking public input.

The commission is accepting written comments from the public through June 27, 2014. In addition, it is holding public meetings across the state where attendees will be permitted to provide verbal comments and feedback on the state of long-term care. 

The initial public meeting was held in Harrisburg last Friday, April 11. Additional public meetings have been set for the times and locations listed below.  
For more information on the Commission see my recent post at:, or visit its webpage here or call 717-425-5719 or 1-800-654-5984 (TDD users).   

Here is a list of upcoming Public Hearing dates and locations:

Thursday, May 8, 2014, in Mercer, PA
Time: 9 a.m. – noon
Mercer County Career Center
776 Greenville Rd.
Mercer, PA 16137

Friday, May 9, 2014, in Allison Park, PA
Time: 1 – 4 p.m.
A.W. Beattie Career Center
9600 Babcock Blvd.
Allison Park, PA 15101

Friday, May 30, 2014, in Williamsport, PA
Time: 9 a.m. – noon
Pennsylvania College of Technology
1 College Ave.
Williamsport, PA 17701

Friday, June 6, 2014, in Blue Bell, PA
Time: 1 – 4 p.m.
Montgomery County Community College
Central Blue Bell Campus
340 Dekalb Pike
Blue Bell, PA 19422

Friday, June 20, 2014, in Lords Valley, PA
Time: 9 a.m. – noon
Pike County Training Center
135 Pike County Blvd.
Lords Valley, PA 18428
If you intend to provide verbal comments at a public meeting, you must register to attend the meeting two business days prior to the meeting.To register to present verbal comments or to attend the public meeting, please go to the registration page and follow the registration instructions by clicking here. You may also register by calling, 717-425-5719 or 1-800-654-5984 (TDD users) with your name and phone number.
Verbal comments at a public meeting will be limited to five minute to allow others time to share their comments. 

Written comments and feedback may be submitted through June 27, 2014 via email to:
or via US mail at PO Box 2675, Attn: OLTL POLICY, Harrisburg, PA 17105.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Power of Attorney: Things You Need to Know

“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”
So wrote 19th Century poet William Ernest Henley, expressing a human desire that may be harder to attain in the 21st.  Life expectancies have soared over the past 100 years.  But, as we live longer, the risks increase that due to accident or illness we may someday need help in making everyday financial and health care decisions. It is a risk we all face.   
In the event you are ever unable to make financial or medical decisions for yourself, who will decide for you?  Will you remain the master of your fate?
There are legal tools that can help you ensure that you will always have as much control as possible over your financial affairs, your personal decisions, and your health care treatment no matter what may happen to you physically or mentally.  The most important of these is the power of attorney.
With a power of attorney you give someone you trust the authority to act on your behalf, make decisions for you, and be your advocate in the event that you are unable to do these things for yourself.  The person you authorize is called your “agent.”
Your power of attorney is so important that you should not rely on a simple or standard document.  It should be carefully crafted to meet your individual situation, preferences and goals. 
Your agent will only be able to act in ways that are authorized in the document.  For example, if you want a family member to have access to your medical information in the event of a health care crisis, your power of attorney should grant that authority.  
Many people want their family to be able to protect their assets from loss to health care costs in the event of a long term illness. If the document does not contain the proper language, you family may be at risk of financial devastation.     
Here are some critical issues you should consider for  your power of attorney.
1.  Asset Protection. Do you want to authorize your agent to protect your assets from health and long-term care costs?  If so, your agent may need to transfer ownership of your assets to your spouse or children.  This authority must be clearly stated in the document, or your agent may not have the ability protect your assets for your family. A standard power of attorney won’t include this power, so you may need to raise this issue with your lawyer.  
2.  Authorization of your Health Care Representative. A power of attorney can help ensure that you will always receive the types of medical treatment you desire, avoid unwanted procedures, limit your pain, and be treated with care, dignity and respect.  To achieve these goals, your power of attorney can empower a trusted person to serve as health care agent to advocate for you. Your document can also provide some directions to your decision makers by expressing your values and philosophy about the health care treatment you want to receive, especially at the end of life.     
Appointment of a health care agent with broad authority to act for you is particularly important because of the federal privacy regulations referred to as HIPAA. These federal rules may cause health care providers to deny your family access to your health information and participation in your care. The inclusion of appropriate language in your health care power of attorney will authorize your agent to get the information needed and make the best informed decisions on your behalf.  
3.  Avoiding Abuse. In the wrong hands, a power of attorney can be an instrument of financial abuse and exploitation. The danger of abuse is particularly acute when the document includes the authorization to make transfers of your assets. Your power of attorney needs to walk the fine line between your goal of protecting the financial security of your loved ones and ensuring that you will always be able to receive and pay for the care you need. 
4.  Naming Successor Agents. Just as you may someday be unable to make financial and health care decisions, there is always a possibility that the person you choose as your agent may become unavailable or unwilling to serve.  Make sure you deal with this possibility by appointing a back-up agent.
Conclusion.  A power of attorney may someday become your most important legal document.  It may be of invaluable assistance to you and your family.  But, an ill-considered power of attorney can lead to disaster.  This is one document where you don’t want to cut corners.  You and your family could someday pay a heavy price. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

2014 Survey details the cost of Long-Term Care Services and Supports

Each year Genworth surveys nearly 15,000 long term care providers in 440 regions nationwide to determine the cost of various long-term care services. The resulting details informs consumers regarding the costs and can help them plan to meet their needs in their preferred location and care setting. 
This past week Genworth issued its survey report for 2014.  
What is Long-Term Care
Long-term care refers to the types of assistance you may need if you have a prolonged physical illness, disability or severe cognitive impairment (such as Alzheimer’s disease) that keeps you from living independently. These limitations may prevent you from carrying out basic self-care tasks, such as bathing, dressing or eating, called Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). And you may need assistance with Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs), including meal preparation, money management, house cleaning, medication management, and transportation.
About 70 percent of people age 65 or older will need long-term care services and supports at some point in their lifetime.
Unfortunately, the costs of long-term care services and supports are typically not covered by Medicare or other health insurance. It can easily bankrupt the recipient and destroy a family's financial security. [Of course, the impacts of long-term care extend far beyond dollars, affecting the careers, personal and emotional lives of caregivers. See the related Genworth Report: Beyond Dollars for more on these impacts.]
The Genworth survey and related resources provide both national and local cost of care information that can help families understand, prepare for, and perhaps limit the potentially catastrophic impacts of long-term care.
Care Costs for Williamsport and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton/Hazleton
Long-term care is provided in a variety of settings. Costs vary by setting and by location. The Genworth survey provides a list of costs incurred in various settings in each state. The methodology used is described here.
A separate cost of care resource can be used to dig down into costs on a local basis. In Pennsylvania, Williamsport and Scranton-Wilkes-Barre-Hazleton are placed in separate regions. The median annual costs for various services in Williamsport and the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre-Hazleton areas are as follows:
Homemaker Services
$43,472 Williamsport
$43,472 Scranton-Wilkes-Barre-Hazleton
Home Health Aide Services
$43,472  Williamsport
$45,760  Scranton-Wilkes-Barre-Hazleton
Adult Day Health Care
$26,125 Williamsport
$16,900 Scranton-Wilkes-Barre-Hazleton
Assisted Living Facility
$35,280 Williamsport
$27,360 Scranton-Wilkes-Barre-Hazleton
Nursing Home (semi-private room)
$100,624 Williamsport
$96,725   Scranton-Wilkes-Barre-Hazleton
Nursing Home (private room)
$108,624 Williamsport
$99,280   Scranton-Wilkes-Barre-Hazleton
Facility based costs continue to increase more rapidly than home care costs. This has been a long-term trend. But costs for both facility and home care are staggering. 
Planning, preparation, and expert assistance are more important than ever. Pennsylvania residents can meet with an elder law attorney at Marshall, Parker and Weber to set up a plan that will help protect you and your family.
In addition, Marshall, Parker and Weber offers life care planning services that helps Pennsylvania families find and finance the care they need. Contact certified elder care coordinator Karen Griswold for more information on how life care planning can benefit your family.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Public Meeting set for Pennsylvania Long-Term Care Commission

In January, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett issued an Executive Order establishing the Pennsylvania Long-Term Care Commission. 
The Commission is tasked with developing recommendations focused on improving the current long-term care system, including identifying effective ways to provide a better coordinated approach to delivering services and support, and ensuring quality health care for older Pennsylvanians and individuals with physical disabilities.
The Governor appointed 25 individuals to be members of the Commission. Secretary of Public Welfare Beverly Mackereth and Secretary of Aging Brian Duke serve as its co-chairs. The commission will have until December to complete its evaluation and report its findings to the Governor. 

Public Meetings and Comments

Over the next several months, the Commission will be convening a series of public input meetings throughout the Commonwealth. Interested persons may attend these meetings and offer their input on the current long-term care system and how it can be improved. The Commission will publish notices in the Pennsylvania Bulletin announcing the location, date and time of meetings as they are scheduled.
While the Commission will accept all comments, the Commission is particularly interested in receiving feedback on the following topics:
•                 Prevention and Caregiver Support: What services, supports and other activities are currently available or should be provided to consumers and their caregivers to improve health and well-being, prevent or delay nursing facility admissions and enable consumers to remain in their own homes as long as possible?
•                 Accessibility: How do consumers currently obtain privately and publically funded long-term services and supports and how could the process, including intake and assessment, be improved to provide better access to individuals and families who need those services and supports? What is the capacity of the health care system to meet the growing number and needs within long-term care?
•                 Provision of service: What should be done to improve coordination of social, medical and long-term care services within the long-term care continuum? What are best practices in care coordination? What changes should be made to promote a person-centered system for the delivery of long-term care services?
•                 Quality Outcomes and Measurement: What measures are currently being taken, or should be adopted, to monitor the quality and cost-effectiveness of long-term care services and supports? What information and data is, or should be, collected and used to measure quality of care and to promote and improve health outcomes for consumers?

Registering for a Public Meeting                                      

If you intend to provide verbal comments at one of the upcoming public meetings, you must register to attend the meeting two business days prior to the meeting. Registration is not required for persons attending to listen, but the Commission is requesting those interested in attending register to help ensure there is adequate seating. If there are capacity limitations, priority will be given to those who have registered to attend.
To register to present verbal comments or to attend the public meeting, please go to the registration page and follow the registration instructions. You may also register by calling 717-425-5719 or 1-800-654-5984 (TDD users) with your name and telephone number.
If you intend to present verbal comments at the public meeting, your comments will be limited to five minutes to allow others time to share their comments. To assist the Commission in accurately capturing verbal comment, individuals are asked to submit a written copy of their comments by emailing them or mailing them to address noted below.
If you cannot attend the public meetings but would still like to provide input to the Commission, the Commission will be accepting written comments and feedback through June 27, 2014. Please feel free to submit your written comments and feedback via email at:
or via US mail at PO Box 2675, Attn: OLTL POLICY, Harrisburg, PA 17105.