On May 5, 2008, a vital amendment to SB 483 was reported on the California legislative Web site. In connection with the Federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2006, Senate Bill 483, introduced by Senator Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), was amended and could have some drastic affects to the long term care delivery system in California. Similar changes are also being implemented nationally. This will be the first part of a series of articles analyzing the bill.

Section 789.8 of the Insurance Code has been proposed to be amended to read, in part:

(b) If a life agent offers to sell to an aged, blind, or disabled individual any life insurance or annuity product, the life agent shall advise that individual or that individual’s agent in writing …

This was the provision originally established by AB 2107 during the 1999-2000 legislative session. I encourage all of you working with California residents to go to www.leginfo.ca.gov and see the April version of the AB 2107 bill. Compare that version with what ultimately passed. This disclosure was the result of compromise and work.

Section (d) now contains language that must be used when “A life agent … offers for sale or sells any financial product on the basis of its treatment under the Medi-Cal program.” I have had the privilege of listening to several plaintiff attorneys who encourage disclosure, and I agree that all clients should be made aware of the rules contained in this disclosure. Remember, it is up to you to make sure your forms are up to date and current.

Section (f) states: “Nothing in this section allows or is intended to allow the unlawful practice of law.” This means you cannot practice law without a license. You sell financial products, so stick to what you are licensed to do and hire or work with a properly educated elder law attorney. If you need legal help, get in contact with the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and its Web site, www.naela.com.

In the meantime, read the bill, and then contact your state senator or assembly person and ask for some face time to speak with them or staff. It is vitally important that you support the portions of this bill which deal with the partnership LTC program.

You should seek to explain to them where you work, how many clients in their constituency you work with, and what it is you do for your clients to help them stay out of state-run LTC facilities and instead receive care where they typically want it (ie. their home). Moreover, you need to explain how you are familiar with the financial services industry and what you do to keep yourself informed, trained and up to date, in an effort to assist your clients in managing their finances responsibly. The time is now, and you are needed, as the bill seeks to amend various sections of the Insurance Code and the Welfare and Institutions Code.

The Medi-Cal program is administered by the State Department of Health Care Services. Existing law establishes various criteria for eligibility for Medi-Cal benefits. The Medi-Cal program is partially governed and funded by federal Medicaid provisions. All of you should become educated with respect to state partnership LTC (go to www.ltcce.com for more information).

We as a country are facing a tremendous challenge when it comes to delivering long term care services to our aging population. Our work will never be more important than it is right now and in the coming years as this bill is implemented. Do something now, please.