National Assisted Living Organization Applauds Maryland Sen. Benjamin Cardin’s Health Care Reform Amendment
Amendment asks U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to determine if seniors with low incomes in assisted living have the means to access medications and housing assistance
Washington, D.C. – Today, the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) applauds Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) for introducing an amendment to the Senate health care reform bill that asks for two studies that ultimately could improve some assisted living residents’ access to Medicare Prescription Drug program and Medicaid benefits.
The Senate’s health reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, includes a provision (Sect. 3309 – the Assisted Living Part D Copay Elimination for Dual Eligibles) that would eliminate drug co-pays for dual eligibles—individuals eligible for Medicare and Medicaid—receiving assisted living and residential care services under state Medicaid waivers.
While NCAL and its Medicare Part D Coalition partners appreciate inclusion of Sect. 3309, they are concerned about similar individuals not covered by Sect. 3309 because these individuals receive services directly under Medicaid state plans. Sen. Cardin’s amendment addresses the individuals not covered by Sect. 3309.
Sen. Cardin’s amendment requests the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct a study that would analyze whether dual eligible individuals residing in community-based settings, including assisted living, whose Medicare Part D copays are not covered under Sect. 3309 have income levels, prescription drug requirements, and types and levels of disability that are comparable to those for whom cost-sharing is eliminated. Based on any discovered barriers to accessing medications, HHS would make recommendations to Congress about eliminating cost sharing for these individuals, as well.
The second study asks HHS to examine the adequacy of federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as the basis for covering assisted living room and board costs and to also identify policy alternatives to provide additional federal housing and other subsidies (through alternatives such as Department of Housing and Urban Development supplements, other housing programs, SSI supplements, food stamps, energy cost supplements, etc.) to help Medicaid beneficiaries afford room and board costs.
“NCAL applauds Sen. Benjamin Cardin for championing these issues which are of critical importance to seniors who are low-income and receiving assisted living services in Maryland and nationwide,” says David Kyllo, NCAL’s executive director. “We will continue working with the Senate on its health reform package as it moves to a final floor vote.”
The National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) represents more than 3,500 not-for-profit and proprietary assisted living and residential care communities dedicated to improving lives by delivering solutions for quality care for seniors and individuals with disabilities. NCAL is the assisted living voice of the American Health Care Association.