As the Democrats get their National Convention underway in Charlotte, NC this week, women’s health and Obamacare are top on the agenda. As a result of recent claims made by Senator Todd Akin, abortion and family planning catapulted to the forefront of the national discussion. In Texas, a federal judge recently allowed the Texas legislature to decide to defund Planned Parenthood.
Essentially, the state of Texas created a law allowing the state to deny funding to organizations affiliated with abortion services. As a result of the new law, Texas officials are considering ending all Planned Parenthood funding; the funding would not simply end for the abortion services themselves or for those clinics that perform abortions. Planned Parenthood sued and a federal judge ruled that Texas may cut their funding; Planned Parenthood has appealed the decision.
Planned Parenthood in Texas administers a significant portion of the Texas Women’s Health Program, which is designed for low-income women who are just above Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) eligibility requirements. The federal government currently funds over 90% of the program, but Texas believes it can continue providing service without federal funding or Planned Parenthood. Medicaid expansion under Obamacare may cover these women, but those eligible for Medicaid expansion will not be eligible for health insurance exchanges.
Coupled with Governor Rick Perry’s announcement following the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare that Texas would not be participating in Medicaid expansion, several hundred thousand people could see their access to health care limited. The issue is especially acute for low-income women because those who would qualify for expanded Medicaid may see none of Medicaid benefits, insurance exchanges, or now private organizations like Planned Parenthood providing preventative health services.
In California, however, the opposite is happening. California has already begun its expansion of Medi-Cal, which will mean many more people are qualified for the program. Although it is likely that many individuals will still want to do some Medi-Cal planning, such as a QMap trust, nearly everyone who already has some Medi-Cal planning done should review their documents in the coming year to ensure that they are up-to-date with the new law.
Additionally, for those who will not qualify for increased Medi-Cal, the health insurance exchange in California is already being constructed for its debut in 2014 as well. In fact, California was working on creating its exchanges even before the Supreme Court’s decision. Keeping up to date on how these changes will affect you and your family is important to your estate plan as well as your health. Now is the time to review your Advance Health Care Directive, Physician Directive to verify that they still reflect your health care goals. Additionally, if you need to do any Medi-Cal planning, this is a good time to get your questions answered. Finally, reviewing your entire estate plan every few years and after major life changes is always a good idea! Are you due for review?
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