As the President of the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, I am proud to lead an organization that has passionately served the aging and disabled populations for the past 25 years. Moreover, I’m grateful to announce the appointment of Clarence Richardson to serve as our first Chapter Director.
As we continue to address the many needs of our constituencies, our Chapter’s goals center on the following:
Ensure that our dynamic Chapter remains a powerful and innovative voice in the fields of Elder and Special Needs Planning. Additionally, we will continue to foster strong coalitions with those agencies and organizations that recognize the institutional shortfalls in delivering public benefits to our most vulnerable communities. We welcome the opportunity to join and support numerous other organizations and providers in addressing tomorrow’s challenges, today (continuing the efforts of our past Presidents Karen Johnson and Laura Silver Traiger).
Encourage each and every member to shape public policy by way of sharing their individual experiences as practitioners and offering new ideas to advance our mission. I recommend all members visit our website for information about our committees. In addition, I urge members to become active participants at the Advocacy Committee chaired by Patricia Keane Martin which meets immediately prior to our educational dinner meetings. Within Advocacy we have several work groups tailored to members’ interests including: Public Policy, Litigation, Special Needs, Residents’ Rights, and Annuities. Given the fluidity associated with Elder Law and the diversity among our members, these meetings allow for both a collegial and informal atmosphere which allows every participant a chance to address and implement legislative initiatives and evolving caselaw in their practice.
As public policy and advocacy remain a principal tenet of our chapter, we will continue to sponsor legislation with the guidance of our lobbyist, Nomita Ganguly. Building upon last year’s success in preserving Veterans Aid and Attendance benefits, we will re-file our bill preserving the ability for individuals over 65 throughout the Commonwealth to fund pooled trusts. Similarly, we will also re-file an Act to Support Equal Access to Community Care for Elders and the Disabled (formerly known as the PACE and Other Waivered Services bill) with the goal of expanding the Frail Elder Waiver to persons whose income is over the 300% of the Federal Benefit Rate through cost-sharing. As much as we focus on the substantive implications of Medicaid policy, there will also be a concerted effort to clarify the procedural due process rights which should be afforded to every applicant and/or member receiving MassHealth benefits.
I look forward to working with our members, the public, and other organizations to make this a successful and productive year for our communities!