Your AARP ; The Law
By Emily Sachar
; Ask the Experts
; The issue: Can a state simply eliminate services
for Medicaid beneficiaries with disabilities?
Esther Darling can relax. Now 74 and a stroke
survivor dealing with diabetes and heart disease
and in need of daily medication, she was worried
that her daily visits to the Yolo Adult Day Health
Center in Woodland, Calif., were in jeopardy. But
a settlement with the state, reached last fall and
affirmed in January, ends a two-year-old case and
means that services for Darling and 35,000 other
low-income Californians will continue. “I’m very
happy about this,” said Darling, who worked in a
toy factory before suffering a stroke 17 years ago.
“I’m so glad they didn’t close the centers down,
because then a lot of people would end up in a rest
home. I don’t want to ever end up there.”
Darling was the lead plaintiff in a class action
suit filed after the California Department of
Health Care Services decided to reduce its bud-
get by $340 million by terminating care at 300 day
centers covered by Medi-Cal, the state Medicaid
program. The average annual cost of $20,020 for
each patient is far less than the $77,745 average
cost for a patient in a nursing home, according
to the state Association for Adult Day Services.
For more than 30 years, the California centers,
called Adult Day Health Care (ADHC), have of-
fered skilled health and nursing care therapies,
transportation and other services to eligible low-
income older people and people with disabilities.
Darling and six other plaintiffs argued that elimi-
nating ADHC centers without replacement ser-
vices would violate the federal Americans With
Disabilities Act and other laws by placing tens of
thousands of ADHC participants at risk of insti-
tutionalization, hospitalization, injury or death.
; Esther Darling,
left, with therapist
; What it means to you: There are strong legal
precedents protecting adult health care even as
states continue balancing their budgets by trimming home- and community-based health, transportation and senior services. ;
QIf a married worker dies, does Social Security help the family?
AMany people think Social Security just helps retirees, but it can help
younger members of your family, too.
Social Security provides significant
survivor benefits to 5. 5 million families.
Example: A 30-year-old medium-wage
earner dies, leaving a wife, 28, with a
2-year-old and a newborn. His family is
entitled to survivor benefits that would
equal a $476,000 life insurance policy,
according to the Social Security Administration. While a healthy 30-year-old could
buy that amount of private life insurance
for a fairly small premium, relatively few
young people do so, according to certified
financial planner Len Cohen of Gaithersburg, Md. Children can collect benefits
until they are 18, or until 19 if they are full-time students in high school. —Stan Hinden
Q I never got my tax refund from the IRS last year. I’m about to file this
year. What should I do?
AYou’re in good company. The IRS says it’s trying to refund $153 million to some 100,000 taxpayers who filed
returns in 2011. Officials blame mailing-address errors for the mix-up. If you think
you’re owed money, use the “Where’s My
Refund?” tool at IRS.gov or call 1-800-
829-1954. In the future, it’s best to use
direct deposit for a refund so the IRS
doesn’t have to put a check in the mail.
Better yet, file electronically and get your
money back more quickly. And don’t forget, tax deadline is April 17. —Carole Fleck
Emily Sachar is a journalist and author based
in Brooklyn, N. Y.
Send your questions to: Ask the Experts, AARP Bulletin, 601 E
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