by Reg Turnbull, Chair, Elder Law Committee
The last two years have been eventful for me, as your Elder Law Committee Chair.
We started the Elder Law Institute which was so successful in 2011 that we had it at two locations with rebroadcasts at several other locations in 2012. These were in addition to two webinars each year. Thank you to Vice Chair Samantha Shepherd, of Overland Park, Kansas, for heading our education committee.
We started the Elder Law Committee Newsletter and published six online editions, counting this one. Thank you to Vice Chair Christine Gilsinan, of St. Louis, for editing our efforts.
We continued to offer CLE credit from various experts at a part of each of our committee meetings in addition to discussion and announcements about what is happening in Missouri Elder Law. Thanks to all of you who attended and made those meetings worthwhile.
We worked with the Health and Hospital Law, Solo and Small Firm, and Probate and Trust Law Committees to have The Missouri Bar join in with other national, state, and local organizations and health care providers on National Healthcare Decisions Day to encourage people to have health care directives and communicate about their end-of-life choices and wishes. Thank you to Brigid Fernandez, of St. Louis, for spearheading that very important ongoing commitment.
We continued efforts at monitoring and reporting on legislation affecting seniors and people with disabilities. Thanks to all who advocated on behalf of our clients and their families.
We announced, discussed, and gave input not only on the new organization of how applications for MO HealthNet were to be administered but also on new income maintenance memorandums (77 so far in 2013; 114 in 2012; and 79 in 2011) and the changes to the income maintenance manual setting out instructions for carrying out agency policy to eligibility workers. Thank you to Vice Chairs Dianne Hansen (2011-2012) and Jessica Kruse (in 2012-2013) for helping us stay up to date on those.
We reported on changes in the national administration of Medicare on two important issues. One lawsuit challenged agency policy because the agency did not follow the federal law relating to the Medicare Part A hospital benefit. The successful lawsuit clarifies that federal law requires paying for treatment and rehabilitation after hospitalization not only for the purpose of improving but also for the purpose of maintaining a patient’s medical condition. In addition, efforts continue to deal with a relatively new phenomenon: hospitals keeping patients in “observation status” rather than admitting them to the hospital. When this method is employed it results in the patient’s inability to meet the “3-day hospital stay” (admission) requirement, which would result in Medicare coverage for follow up stays in skilled nursing facilities. Barb Gilchrist of St. Louis led in following and explaining how those changes were occurring.
Our listserve has had many announcements about the latest court decisions, rule and policy changes, and status of legislative initiatives. We have had queries from novice practitioners as well as our very experienced colleagues. Our members generously balance their suggestions and ideas. Rather than spoon-feeding the answers, our contributors’ posts to the listserve encourage professional growth and development of legal knowledge and skills.
Finally, I have appreciated the fine support and service of the staff of The Missouri Bar. Robert Stoeckl, Director of Projects, and his staff have assisted in orienting, supporting, and empowering us to be an effective committee. Delores Shepherd, director of CLE programs, and her fine staff of Becky Brenneke, CLE Programs Planner, and Teresa Lahmeyer, CLE Programs Coordinator, have been superb in their work on our behalf. Mary Douglas, Media Relations Website Coordinator, and Farrah Fite, Media Relations Director, have assisted with our newsletter and other projects. Catherine Barrie, Senior Legislative Attorney, is worth her weight in gold in assisting us with our legislative work.
My tenure is now over. Chairs serve for two or three years but with 592 members (as of August 21, 2013), I know that others are qualified to lead our group to greater heights. Samantha Shepherd, who is one of the attorneys spotlighted in this newsletter issue, will be appointed to succeed me at the Annual Meeting, September 18-20, 2013, in Columbia. She will be a very fine chair.
The goal that I did not accomplish was to establish a speakers’ bureau of committee members located throughout the state who have been vetted by at least three other committee members to speak to civic, church, business, and other groups about Elder Law topics. Perhaps Samantha will do this along with accomplishing her own goals.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as Elder Law Committee chair because of the fine members who have stepped up when asked or when they volunteered with their time and talents to make membership in our committee indispensable to us in our Elder Law practice. Thank you!
In addition to a spotlight article on Samantha Shepherd, our incoming chair, you will find an article about Christopher Dumm, of Joplin. Both graduated from law school in 1994 and followed very different paths in their respective careers. These articles are intended to portray the human side of our members and to have them say why they practice Elder Law.
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