Georgia's Trusted Healthcare
& Medical Provider Attorneys

If Your Child Has Autism, Make Sure These 4 Things Are In Your Will

Autsim Will & Special Needs Trust

Although everyone should have a will, as parents of special needs children, we need wills to ensure that our kids are well cared for and have a good quality of life after we pass.

My son has a dual diagnosis of Autism and Williams Syndrome. Here are four things I recommend all parents of children with Autism – or any special needs – include in their wills or estate plans.

1) A Special Needs Trust – A will is a basic legal document that details your last wishes and is often used to distribute your property or assets.

However, a basic will does not include provisions that are needed to protect and provide for your special needs child. This is where a Special Needs Trust comes into play. A Special Needs Trust can be a part of your will or it can be a stand-alone document. It allows you to designate and qualify your assets in a way that doesn’t penalize your child when it comes to his or her public benefits.

Eligibility for many government benefits is determined based on the resources your child or adult ward holds in his or her name. If your special needs child has too many resources, even by just one dollar, he or she may not qualify for, or may even lose, benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. Even if your child does not currently receive government assistance, he or she may need it in the future.

A special needs trust is a way to protect your loved one’s current resources and future benefits. Through a special needs trust you can leave assets to your child or ward without negatively impacting his or her government benefits.

2) Designated Guardian – We often assume that a member of our family – maybe a sister or our own mother – will automatically be given custody of our children if something happens to us. However, this is not true unless you have a will, trust or estate plan in place that specifically names them as guardians.

Without a legal plan in place, anyone can request custody and a judge will decide with whom your child/children will live with. Choosing a guardian is perhaps one of the most difficult decisions to make. It’s important to choose someone you trust and who will respect your wishes for your child(ren).

Things to consider when selecting any child’s guardian are the guardian’s age, his or her family values, parenting style, character, willingness to serve as guardian and whether he or she already has an established relationship with your child.

With a special needs child there are even more considerations. Think about the traits that you, as a special needs parent, need to raise your child and does the guardian have these traits?  My top three traits for special needs guardians are 1) Energy; 2) Patience; and 3) The ability to advocate for my child. (See Related Post: 10 Tips On Choosing The Right Guardian)

3) Guardianship Letter & Instructions –  Once you’ve selected a guardian, you need to put them in a position to succeed if they are forced to step into your shoes. You should write instructions to the guardian about things they will need to know on how to parent your child.

Include things like your child’s routines, medicines, information about his or her medical providers, how to deal with sensory meltdowns, what is the best way to get them to eat or sleep. Simple things like their favorite stuffed animal that they need to go to sleep with at night or where they like to hide their favorite sippy cup or the name of their favorite YouTube videos are small details – but they are of big importance to our children.

We’ve had years to learn these things about our kids. Help your child’s guardian avoid having to learn from experience by documenting what you already know!  (See Related Post: How To Create A Successful Care Plan For Your Child’s Guardians)

By painstakingly detailing your routines and including details about what makes your child comfortable or happy in your care plan, you are setting your guardians up for success and for a smooth transition in case something were to suddenly happen to you and your spouse.

4) Conservator or Trustee – A conservator or trustee is someone to handle all financial decisions related to your child. A conservator helps ensure that money left to your special needs child is used for your child in ways that best benefit  your child.

Often times families ask me if their child’s designated guardian should also be the conservator or trustee. It depends. Your guardian can serve as both, but sometimes families prefer set up some up checks and balances by selecting different guardians and conservators. It’s important to select someone you trust and who will make smart financial decisions on your child’s behalf.  The guardian and the conservator work together in the best interest of your child.

Getting Started

As a parent of a special needs child and an estate planning attorney, I understand the challenges of adding one more thing to your plate. However, putting into place a will to protect your child with special needs is something we all need to do sooner rather than later – just in case.

We’ll walk you through the will planning process step-by-step. Initial consults are free.  We want to help you create a legal plan that best protects your child with special needs as well as your final wishes for your entire family. I can be reached at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872.

 

DOJ Intends to Increase Healthcare Fraud Penalties By Almost 100%

healthcare fraudThe Department of Justice (“DOJ”) recently announced that it intends to increase healthcare fraud penalties under the False Claims Act (“FCA”) on claims assessed after August 1, 2016.

DOJ’s Justification For The Increase

FCA penalties can already be high since penalties are assessed per-claim. Each false claim presented to the government can be a separate violation. The DOJ’s Interim Final Rule would increase the minimum per-claim penalty from $5,500 to $10,781 and maximum per-claim penalty from $11,000 to $21,563.

This is a steep increase over 96%. While there was a 10% cap on the amount the penalties could increase, that law was amended by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (“2015 Act”). The 2015 Act also included a one-time “catch up provision” requiring the first increase be based changes in the consumer price index since the year the penalties were established.

What The Increase Means To Healthcare Providers

This increase could incentivize whistle-blowers to identify false claims because the whistle-blower may be able to keep a percentage of the money recovered. Healthcare providers billing the government need to ensure that all their practice’s policies and procedures adhere with federal and state regulations. Proactive and preventive measures are the best way to stay out of the government’s cross hairs for fraud.

How To Ensure Federal and State Compliance

We can help. Our attorneys have extensive experience in analyzing and bringing into compliance healthcare providers’ policies and procedures. We’ve helped hundred of providers – from small, independent providers to large national corporations ensure compliance with regulations such as the Anti-Kickback Statute and Stark. Contact DJ Jeyaram at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872 or Jonathan Anderson at Janderson@JeyLaw.com.

Sending One More Message To Loved Ones After You Pass | How To Create A Legacy Statement

Legacy StatementsMy wife would give anything to hear her mom’s voice, to see her smile or read a letter from her one more time.

Sadly, my wife’s mom suddenly passed away more than 20 years ago at the age of 43. The most cherished memories my wife has of her mom are the stories her mom would tell my wife about her own childhood.

As with all things, those memories fade over time and when the teller of the tale has passed, details are sometimes lost forever. As a result, my wife and I have included Legacy Statements as part of our wills.

Heartfelt Messages For Loved Ones 

Legacy Statements can be a part of your estate plan and are an opportunity to tell loved ones stories or messages that you do not want lost when you pass. Things like your favorite memories, what you had hoped to accomplish in this life, as well as your hopes and dreams for your children. Your Legacy Statement can also explain why you made certain choices or it can simply be a heartfelt message for loved ones to cherish.

You can video tape, tape record or write your messages. I’ve also had some clients include favorite photos of their loved ones with a special note on the back of the photos. Legacy Statements are such a meaningful way to preserve your legacy, and that of your family, after you pass. It’s also a way to pass on family traditions and history.

Creating Your Legacy Statement Is Not A Sad Process 

The process of creating a Legacy Statement does not have to be a sad affair. In fact, many of the stories I see preserved are memories of a happy childhood, a secret recipe finally revealed or, in one funny instance, the differing views of the parents’ first date together!

As a first generation American, my personal statement is the story my father told me about his flight abroad and his first day in America. He left everything he knew and loved to chase the American dream. He arrived in New York with no money and only one suitcase – but a heart full of hope and determination. I want my children and their future children to understand where they came from and why they are here. That is the importance of legacy.

Legacy Statements Give Comfort To Your Family

So while we do not have any control over when we pass, we can leave a positive and meaningful impression on future generations. Legacy Statements allow those grieving a respite from the pain and sorrow and give them something positive to hold on to. It gives them a sense of peace and comfort.

As a wills, trusts an estate lawyer, I love nothing more than seeing the comfort Legacy Statements bring to family and friends. It gives them a chance to hear from you – one more time.

We Can Help You

Our attorneys have extensive experience in creating wills and legacy statements and will help you through the process step-by-step. Please contact to DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872.

Another Katie Beckett Denial Overturned!!!

Katie Beckett Denial OverturnedWe’re so excited!!!

We’ve helped another family overturn a Katie Beckett denial!

Katie Beckett Legal Help Testimonial 

Here’s the review R. Carrington posted on our site:

“When our son’s Katie Beckett was denied after 9 years of approval, we were lost. Mr. Jeyaram walked us through the appeal process, met with us and helped us write a strong letter for review and followed up with us to make sure our appeal was a success.”

“What could have been devastating for our family, was a small bump in the road, easily handled. Mr. Jeyaram’s is a special needs’ family most needed contact. Thank you Jeyaram & Associates! You really saved the day!”

Thank you R. Carrington for the kind words! We love nothing more than seeing our kids get the benefits they deserve!

Our Attorneys Have Extensive Experience With Katie Beckett

Receive notice that your child’s Katie Beckett has been denied? We can help! Our attorneys have an intimate understanding of how the Katie Beckett and NOW/COMP approval process operates through the Department of Community Health (DCH), as well as the Office of State Administrative Hearings (OSAH), the entity that presides over the Katie Beckett and NOW/COMP appeals.

Before joining Jeyaram & Associates, our attorneys worked as DCH Medicaid attorneys and OSAH judge. They have experience with and insight into the Katie Beckett and NOW/COMP Waiver process at DCH and OSAH that other lawyers cannot offer.

We’ve Been Through The Process

Our attorneys have personal experience applying for, initially being denied and then finally approved Waiver services. We’ve been there, and we want to help other parents whose children would also benefit from these programs. We know the application process is frustrating and confusing. Don’t give up. We’re here to help! We’ve also successfully helped dozens of families appeal Katie Beckett and NOW/COMP denials.

Need Help?

Attorney and special needs dad DJ Jeyaram can help. Contact DJ at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872.

Did You Know?

Katie Beckett Attorney GeorgiaDid you know DJ Jeyaram is Georgia’s leading attorney on Katie Beckett?

He has successfully helped more than 100 families obtain Katie Beckett approvals on appeal!!!

For help with Katie Beckett denials, please contact DJ at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872. You can also learn more on our site by clicking here.

How To Ensure Proper Care For Our Fuzzy Children In Our Wills

Will Pet Trust

When we think about creating a will or trust, we think about things like our checking or savings accounts, our family heirlooms and if we have children, how we want them to be cared for when we pass.

However, one of the most important – and often overlooked – parts of preparing for our futures is making sure our fuzzy loved ones are cared for too.

And while pets are legally and technically considered – “property” – as pet owners, we know that they mean so much more to us than just being “property.” They are our companions and a big part of our families.

Leaving our pets’ fate unknown and the thought of having them possibly sent to a shelter is unthinkable. This is where legally documenting our wishes for our fuzzy children is important.

Our Pets Are Family Too!

Traditional wills or trusts treat pets as property. One of the challenges with only including your pet in your will is that it often takes time, sometimes years before the probate process is completed. Your pet will need immediate care. So often we see people dividing their estates purely by percentages. Where does a pet go in that scenario?

When clients want to provide for their fuzzy child, there are a couple of options:

1) Specifically designate who gets ownership of your pet when you pass or

2) Create a Pet Trust. A Pet Trust has benefits beyond simply giving ownership of your pet to someone else.

Pet Trusts can be created in your will or be valid while you are alive and can be implemented if you were to become ill and unable to care for your fuzzy child.  A Pet Trust also allows you to allocate funds that can only be used for your pet’s care.  When we see animals go to a shelter in probate situations, many times it is because family members are not willing to accept the financial burdens of having a pet, especially an older pet.

Things To Consider For Your Pet’s Future

The Pet Trust allows you to leave specific instructions on how your pet should be cared for and by whom, as well how money set up in a trust should be allocated. Some things to think about when setting up a Pet Trust are:

  • Who would take care of your fuzzy child in a way that makes you comfortable? Does your pet know this person? Would this person honor your wishes?
  • If you have more than one pet, would your pet’s guardian be willing to keep all of your pets together?
  • How much money should you set aside? Think not only about current costs, but how much care your pet may need as he or she gets older?
  • Including detailed care instructions such as your pet’s favorite toys or treats. Is your pet scared of thunderstorms or other animals or small children?

While the thought of leaving behind our loved ones when we pass is painful, it’s important that we think about how we can best provide for them now – and in the future. And as pet owners, we know that our pets are more than just “property” –  they are our family too!

Need Help Getting Started?

Our attorneys specialize in wills and Pet Trusts. Not only do we have extensive experience with wills and Pet Trusts, but we are avid pet lovers too! Contact DJ Jeyaram at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872.

 

Georgia Department of Community Health Approves $140 million Medicaid Rate Increase

Georgia MedicaidGeorgia doctors, nursing home operators and other healthcare providers will soon see an increase in Medicaid reimbursements. The Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) approved a reimbursement rate increase earlier this month that will go into effect July 1, 2016.

The increase addresses concerns that low Medicaid reimbursement rates have made it difficult for practices with high volumes of Medicaid patients to be profitable. The rate increases will most likely have the biggest impact on providers in rural Georgia communities, which serve a high Medicaid population. For some providers, the Medicaid reimbursement rate will go up by more than 50% for some procedures.

The rate increases means $140 million in increased reimbursements for Georgia providers. The increase was funded by the General Assembly earlier this year, but the Department of Community Health did not approve the rate increase until the beginning of May. The total will be paid for in part out of the Georgia budget with about two thirds of the increase coming from the federal government.

Jeyaram & Associates is a full service healthcare law firm committed to helping doctors, nurses, hospitals, nursing homes, adult day care facilities, pharmacies, and Medicaid and healthcare providers. Contact DJ at DJ@Jeylaw.com or 678.325.3872.

Healthcare Providers: Your Business Associates Could Cost You Millions

HIPAAHealthcare providers must ensure business associates adequately safeguard private health information

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently entered into a HIPAA settlement with a Minnesota hospital for $1.5 million because the hospital failed to have a written business associate agreement with one of its contractors.

Business associates are non-covered-HIPAA entities that require access to protected health information (PHI) to perform services for covered entities, often a contractor or subcontractor. The hospital’s policies failed to ensure the business associate adequately protected consumer’s PHI.

While HIPAA applies to certain covered entities, those entities must also ensure that any business associates also adequately secure PHI. HHS found that the Minnesota hospital overlooked two important aspects of the HIPAA rules.

  1. The hospital did not have a written, compliant business associate agreement with one of its IT contractors, and
  2. The hospital failed to have an accurate and thorough risk analysis of its entire IT infrastructure.

HHS investigated after the hospital reported that a laptop was stolen from an employee of the business associate. The laptop contained password protected but unencrypted PHI for almost 10,000 individuals.

The $1.5 million settlement underscores the importance of HIPAA compliance. Healthcare providers must ensure they have compliance agreements with anyone who has access to protected health information. One example of this is when a healthcare provider contracts IT services. Without compliance agreements, companies can be responsible for hefty fines even if a business associate actually causes the PHI security breach.

If you need help creating policies or contracts to protect safeguard private healthcare information, we can help. Please contact Jonathan Anderson at Janderson@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872.

DJ Jeyaram, Georiga’s Leading Medicaid Legal Expert, Featured in Medicaid’s Who Who

MedicaidCongratulations to DJ Jeyaram for being featured in Mostly Medicaid’s Who Who Series. Originally posted on Mostly Medicaid.

 

DJ JeyaramMedicaid Who’s Who: DJ Jeyaram – Jeyaram & Associates, P.C.

1. Which segment of the Industry are you currently involved?

ALegal and Regulatory compliance including reimbursement appeals.

2. What is your current position and with what organization?

A: Founder of Jeyaram & Associates, P.C., a healthcare law firm.

3. How many years have you been in the Medicaid industry?

A: 19 years

4. What is your focus/passion? (Industry related or not)

A: Making sure the government follows the rules whether in auditing providers or determining eligibility for services.  Most of the time they wrote the rules, they need to follow them!

5. What is the top item on your “bucket list?”

A: With my wife leading the charge; Creation of the WISH House that will provide housing and services to individuals with Williams Syndrome.

6. What do you enjoy doing most with your personal time?

A: Personal time?  What’s that?

7. Who is your favorite historical figure and why?

A: Rosa Parks.  From the smallest of things come the biggest of changes.

8. What is your favorite junk food?

AChocolate chip cookies.

9. Of what accomplishment are you most proud?

A: Raising happy children!

10. For what one thing do you wish you could get a mulligan?

A: Maybe starting a family earlier.  Being an old dad with young kids is tiring!

11. What are the top 1-3 issues that you think will be important in Medicaid during the next 6 months?

A1: Reimbursement and Audits:  As the government audits more aggressively are providers’ documentation sufficient to avoid recoupment?

A2: Member Benefits:  Even if rates are not reduced, states are seeking to effectively lower payments by lowering the units of service available to members.

A3: Due Process:  Are providers and members getting sufficient notice of reduction of reimbursement/benefits so they can file an effective appeal?

 

 

Georgians With Developmental Disabilities “Shortchanged”

Developmental DisabilityGaps Remain In Community Support Services

Six years after their 2010 settlement agreement that addressed Georgia’s treatment of people with mental illness and developmental disabilities, the State and the US Department of Justice still cannot agree on what exactly that means.

Under part of the 2010 settlement, Georgia must improve care for individuals with mental illness and developmental disabilities. This includes moving these individuals into community settings when appropriate. There are annual reports filed with the court from an independent reviewer about the progress of the settlement.  According to the most recent report, Georgia still has gaps in services and waiting lists mean community integration has not been fully realized.

U.S. Supreme Court Orders Community Integration

Georgia’s compliance with the 2010 settlement will continue to be a contentious issue. A federal judge overseeing the execution of the settlement said, “The state of Georgia always has shortchanged people with mental illness.” Georgia was the focus of the Supreme Court’s 1999 ruling in Olmstead v L.C. In that case, the Court ruled individuals with mental illness and DD have a right to receive services in the most integrated community setting appropriate for their needs.

Most Applications For Assistance Initially Rejected

Despite the disagreement over what is required under the settlement, the 2010 settlement has helped many people move back or remain in their communities. This is thanks to the increased availability of Medicaid waivers. However, some disabled individuals and their families still get discouraged during the application process, especially if the application is initially rejected.

 We Can Help 

 Jeyaram & Associates has helped dozens of families get and keep support services for individuals with developmental disabilities even after an initial rejection. For more information, contact Jonathan Anderson at  janderson@jeylaw.com.