The recent ruling by the Supreme Court to uphold the Affordable Health Care Act (AHCA) was a win for people living with disabilities.
The signing of the Act by President Obama as his landmark legislation includes a number of provisions that go a long way in alleviating issues and stress for people with disabilities. Many of the provisions have yet to be fully implemented but the significant ones for those living with disabilities are:
- No more lifetime coverage limits on health insurance plans.
- Insurers will not be allowed to charge higher rates or deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, including disabilities or charge women more than men.
- Establishes the Community First Choice Option offering states the opportunity to receive increased federal matching funds to support community living.
- Requires health insurance plans to cover a menu of “essential benefits” including mental health services, habilitation and rehabilitation services as well as behavioral health treatment.
- 5.3 million seniors will continue to save $600 a year on their prescription drugs
- Preventative care will still be covered free of charge by insurance companies including mammograms for women and wellness visits for seniors.
- Efforts to strengthen and protect Medicare by cracking down on waste, fraud, and abuse will remain in place.
On the day the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the AHCA, Jonathan Young Chair of the National Council on Disability said, ““For millions of Americans with disabilities who rely on home and community based services to live, learn and earn in America, the ruling today by the Supreme Court on the Affordable Care Act is arguably the most significant decision since passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act 22 years ago,”
The one possible negative impact for people with disabilities is that the justices did rule against the provision in the ACHA that called for states to expand Medicaid to include those earning up to 133% of the federal poverty level or lose out on federal funds. For a single person this currently amounts to about $14,856 in earnings. The court ruled that this mandate could not be imposed.
If states decide not to expand Medicaid to the above limits, and forgo the significant federal funding to do so, there are many people with disabilities that could lose out on Medicaid coverage as they earn too much. The decision on this one provision shows why appropriate financial planning for people with a disability is imperative. The use of a special needs trust can help in such situations as having too high earnings, or too many assets to qualify for Medicaid. As always we advise you to seek certified professional help not only from a special needs trust like The Special Needs Trust Network, but also with a certified elder care attorney when deciding on your financial planning needs.