December 19

Dismay as Alzheimer’s Drug Fails in Clinical Trials

A drug that was seen as a strong contender to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease has failed to deliver in the final stage of clinical trials. The results, based on 2,000 patients with mild dementia, are a significant blow because there are currently no treatments to slow the effects of Alzheimer’s. Few have made it to phase three trials. The drug, called solanezumab, is an injectable antibody designed to stick to amyloid plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and clear away the abnormal proteins. Scientists had hoped that, by helping to destroy the sticky plaques in the early stages of the disease, the drug would protect patients against more severe cognitive decline later on. However, the latest results, announced by the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly ahead of the Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease conference in San Diego next month, show the drug has no significant benefits to memory when compared with the placebo taken by some patients. John Lechleiter, president and chief executive of Eli Lilly, said: “The results of the solanezumab trial were not what we had hoped for and we are disappointed for the millions of people waiting for a potential disease-modifying treatment for Alzheimer’s.” In a statement, the company said: “Lilly will not pursue regulatory submissions for solanezumab for the treatment of mild dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease.”

For the article from The Guardian, click here.

December 15

Creating a Safety Net for Isolated Seniors

The rapidly rising number of elderly Americans has prompted the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) to unveil guidelines for a segment of these older adults who can no longer make their own medical decisions and have no designated surrogates. The nonprofit dubbed them “unbefriended” and called for a national effort to help prevent a surge among incapacitated seniors who don’t have a decision maker and face a health crisis. Single seniors have always existed, but demographic and social changes have slowly transformed aging America. In 1900, average life expectancy was 47. Now, the combination of increased longevity, the large and graying baby boom generation, the decline in marriage, the rise in divorce, increased childlessness and family mobility has upended the traditional caregiving support system. Timothy Farrell, a physician and associate professor at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City who worked on the new AGS policies, said he would “regularly encounter patients with no clear surrogate decision maker.” The guidelines include “identifying ‘non-traditional’ surrogates — such as close friends, neighbors, or others who know a person well.” Boosting social ties among elders is part of a national campaign launched last week by the AARP Foundation and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, a nonprofit. The aim is to combat loneliness.

For the article from Kaiser Health News, click here.

December 13

Rep. Tom Price for HHS

President-Elect Donald Trump has named Georgia Rep. Tom Price, a leading critic of President Barack Obama’s sweeping health care law, to head the Department of Health and Human Services. A key Senate Democrat immediately criticized the choice. If confirmed by the Senate, Price would play a central role in Republican efforts to repeal and replace the current health care law. Trump has pledged to move quickly on overhauling the landmark measure, but has been vague about what he hopes to see in a replacement bill. Also Seema Verma, the founder and CEO of a health policy consulting firm, was picked to serve as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The president-elect has said he favors keeping provisions that allow young people to stay on their parents’ health insurance and which prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions. Replacing President Barack Obama’s health care law is “one of the things he’s going to lead the charge on as secretary of HHS,” said Jason Miller, a Trump transition team spokesman.

For the article from the U.S. News and World Report, click here.

December 6

Now that the elections are over…

President-elect Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States on January 20, 2017. On that same day the Republican controlled Senate and Republican controlled House of Representatives will begin their respective terms. It will be the first time since 2006 that the Republican Party will control both the executive and legislative branches of government.

Most Americans will pay attention to how the new President and Congress work together to nominate a Supreme Court Justice to replace the late Antonin Scalia, develop a battle plan to defeat ISIS, repeal Obama care, or reduce tax rates. It will also be prudent to monitor any changes that may be made to benefit programs like Social Security and Medicaid.

You may recall that on February 8, 2006 the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 went into effect. This law increased the Medicaid look back period from three years to five years. What this means is that anytime an applicant applies for Medicaid, Medicaid has the legal right to examine all records to determine if any gifts were made. If so, a penalty period will be assessed for which the applicant will be found ineligible for the program.

In August 2012 Mr. Charles Boustany, a Republican Congressman from Louisiana, sponsored a piece of legislation that would have increased the look back period to 10 years. This legislation never got out of committee and even if it would have passed both Houses of Congress, President Obama would have surely vetoed it. But in light of prior history, I am fairly certain that in the near future the look back period will be extended. It could increase to seven years or even ten years. Either way now is the time to plan while the law is still five years.

It is interesting to note that between the date the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 was actually signed, and February 8, 2006, the date the law became effective, I transferred well over $10,000,000.00 worth of assets in order to qualify my clients for Medicaid should care be needed in the future. They took advantage of the old 3 year look back period. Those that waited to plan until February 8, 2016 and after, were now governed by the 5 year look back period.

Please contact me so that we may protect your assets while the look back period is still 5 years.