Archive for January, 2017

Lawrence Friedman Receives Distinguished Legislative Service Award

Posted on: January 28th, 2017 by Lawrence A. Friedman

The New Jersey State Bar Association has awarded attorney Lawrence A. Friedman its 2016 Distinguished Legislative Service Award for helping to enact the Uniform Trust Code (“UTC”) in New Jersey.  The Distinguished Legislative Service Award is the Bar Association’s highest honor for noteworthy legislative service while the UTC codifies over 100 years of trust law into one comprehensive statute that is largely uniform over many states.

In bestowing the award, Bar Association President, Thomas Prol, noted,
This significant piece of legislation not only impacts the practice of trusts and estates law, but impacts young lawyers who may now find the practice of trusts and estates law more accessible.  Your efforts on drafting this legislation and ensuring its passage is exemplary of the kind of work the Association proudly encourages and supports and we are grateful for your service.

Larry drafted statutory provisions to protect special needs trusts and worked with Bar Association colleagues to resolve concerns of the Legislature and Governor and facilitate New Jersey’s enactment of the UTC in 2016.  Regarding Friedman and his colleagues, Bar Association President Prol also said,
“Their knowledge in this area of the law is unparalleled, and they continue to dedicate their efforts to teaching the UTC to their colleagues as evidence of their continued commitment to their profession.  In addition, their work has not gone unnoticed. They are called upon by legislative staff when questions arise in the area of trust and estate law. Their contributions to the association’s legislative program have proven invaluable.”

The Bar Association also awarded its  Distinguished Legislative Service Award to Lawrence A. Friedman in 2000 for his work in drafting earlier legislation to help New Jersey residents use special needs trusts.  Special needs trusts are an important tool that lawyers use to help people with disabilities enjoy a better quality of life.

How ObamaCare’s Repeal will Affect People with Disabilities

Posted on: January 17th, 2017 by Mark R. Friedman

With the inauguration of President-Elect Trump on Friday, Republicans in control of both houses of Congress, and an open Supreme Court seat, it’s very likely that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will soon be repealed.

No one knows quite how this will shake out, or exactly what the ACA will be replaced with.  If the ACA is repealed, there will likely be winners and losers.  However, unless the ACA is replaced with something similar, it’s very likely that some of the biggest losers of the ACA’s repeal will be people with disabilities.

That’s because people with disabilities were some of the biggest winners under the ACA.  The ACA (popularly called ObamaCare) includes strong protections for people with disabilities who have or want private health insurance.  Insurers are required to insure people with pre-existing conditions, which includes many people with long-term disabilities and other medical conditions.  Insurers must cover habilitative therapies, mental health treatment and substance abuse treatment.  Insurers cannot put a lifetime limit on how much they will pay for someone’s treatment, which for some people who need expensive medical care long-term, is quite literally a life-saver.

However, the dirty truth is that all of these extra benefits are expensive, and to pay for them, insurers have had to charge healthy people more.  Insurers have raised premiums, and introduced “high-deductible” plans where customers must pay a large amount out of their own pocket before the insurer will pay anything.

But with the repeal of the ACA looming, the benefits above, which disproportionately help people with disabilities, may soon go away.  So perhaps would the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, which expands Medicaid eligibility beyond aged, blind and disabled people with very limited assets and income, to any adult with income less than 138% of the federal poverty level.

The ACA gave people with disabilities the option to buy private health insurance, and another avenue to obtain public insurance through Medicaid.  But both of those options may soon disappear.  That means that for people with disabilities, Medicaid may (again) soon be the only way to obtain healthcare coverage.  And that in turn means that establishing and preserving eligibility for Medicaid is now more important than ever.  People with disabilities should consider how special needs trusts and ABLE accounts can preserve eligibility, parents with children with disabilities should explore special needs estate planning, and lawyers working with people with disabilities should consider how settlements / recoveries will affect Medicaid eligibility.

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Homepage photo: Cows grazing at Meadowbrook Farm, Bernardsville, NJ by Siddharth Mallya. October 23, 2012.
Interior photo: Somerset hills pastoral scene by Lawrence Friedman.