(NOTE: State Rep. Ken Gordon represents Precinct 3 in Wilmington, as well as all of Burlington and Bedford.)
I am writing to thank State Representative Kenneth I. Gordon for his leadership on defending special needs pooled trusts against a recently-proposed MassHealth regulatory change. This will help seniors of his district covering Wilmington, Burlington and Bedford.
Rep. Gordon signed on to a letter to urge MassHealth to refrain from implementing the proposed regulation, which would prohibit thousands of disabled seniors, including veterans, age 65 and older, from transferring any funds to special needs pooled trusts to maintain their quality of life.
A total of 98 members of the House of Representatives signed the letter, which appears to have delayed and hopefully derailed MassHealth’s implementation of this harmful proposed regulation.
What does this mean for local seniors? For many, special needs pooled trusts can help preserve their independence and their dignity. These disabled seniors are individuals with modest means who seek to set aside funds to pay for services and goods that are not covered by MassHealth. Health care and dental costs, companion services, transportation, clothing, and household and personal items, are among the examples of the types of important expenditures the trusts can cover.
Pooled Trusts can help disabled seniors preserve some funds to help them remain in the community while still qualifying for MassHealth benefits. This presents a real savings to the Commonwealth (and taxpayers!) because home care costs MassHealth less than nursing home care.
Moreover, the state is reimbursed from the remaining trust balances upon the death of the senior. Indeed, the state currently receives roughly $8 million each year from such remainder funds.
We cannot, however, rely solely on the MassHealth agency’s discretion to refrain from implementing the proposed regulation. Legislation is the best protection to ensure that MassHealth does not overturn more than 23 years of allowing disabled seniors to use special needs pooled trusts.
For this reason, the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (MassNAELA), on which I volunteer on the Board of Directors, helped draft pending legislation that would statutorily protect the rights of disabled seniors to fund special needs pooled trusts. This legislation has already passed the Senate and is now before the House.
Thank you again Rep. Gordon for taking action to help protect local seniors.
Patrick G. Curley, Esq.
Certified Elder Law Attorney
Curley Law Firm LLP
Wakefield, MA 01880
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