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LTC Bullet:

CLTC Certification Program Ejects NAELA

Tuesday May 30, 2000


The Center for Long-Term Care Financing has repeat- edly criticized Attorney Harley Gordon's Corporation for Long-Term Care Certification (CLTCC) program for its links with the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA).

NAELA is the trade association for lawyers who arti- ficially impoverish frail and infirm elders to qualify them for Medicaid nursing home benefits without spending down. NAELA recently advocated a national social LTC insurance program (Medicare Part D) which would, if implemented, wipe out private long-term care insurance.

Our detailed criticisms of the CLTCC and NAELA are contained in two articles, both of which may still be read on the Center for LTC Financing's web site at "Certifiable Suckers," published December 10, 1998 and "Three Cheers...but One from the Bronx," published December 3, 1999.

News flash: "The Corporation for Long-Term Care Certification has terminated its agreement with the National Academy of Elder law Attorneys (NAELA) to administer the 'Certified in Long-Term Care' (CLTC) test." (Source: Addendum to a CLTC Cer- tification promotional flyer)

The Center for LTC Financing congratulates Harley Gordon and his LTC certification company for taking this important step in the right direction. We note, however, that the same announcement severing the relationship with NAELA contains this qualifier: "Although we are no longer affiliated with NAELA, we encourage our students and graduates to work closely with elder law attorneys."

While the Center for LTC Financing strongly encour- ages LTC insurance professionals to work closely with attorneys, financial planners, and accountants to protect seniors against all financial liabilities, we con- tinue to warn against collaboration with the small band of "elder law" attorneys who specialize in Medicaid estate planning.

Our reasons were clearly stated in the December 1998 "Certifiable Suckers" article:

"Why are Medicaid planners suddenly taking an interest in long-term care insurance and agents? The market for Medicaid planning candidates is drying up. The public is gradually becoming aware of Medicaid's access and quality problems. Seniors are flocking to assisted living facilities which private long-term care insurance usually pays for, but Medicaid rarely does. Seniors want to avoid the kinds of nursing homes that rely predominantly on Medicaid financing. To replenish this dwindling client base, Medicaid plan- ners need referrals. Enter the LTC insurance agent. Medicaid planners seem to offer an easy solution for clients who cannot physically qualify for insurance. Attorneys can wave a magic legal wand and save the clients' assets while qualifying them for Medicaid benefits. Medicaid planners present this option with such seeming compassion and caring that the offer appears extremely seductive. But beware! There are three huge problems. First, an artificially impoverished elder loses the ability to purchase quality care in the private marketplace at the appropriate level. You may be condemning your client to the kind of nursing home care the Medicaid planners are litigating against. Second, Medicaid planners are notorious for failing to reciprocate with referrals from among their clients who can qualify for private long-term care insurance. Every referral they send to a long-term care insurance agent is one less Medicaid planning candidate for them. Finally, as long as Americans can ignore the risk of long-term care, avoid the premiums for private insur- ance, and qualify easily for government-financed care, they will not sense the urgency and need to buy a long-term care insurance policy. Until that system changes, penetration of the LTC insurance market will remain minimal."

So: congratulations to the CLTC Certification program for cutting its official ties with NAELA. Now, go the rest of the way:

Change the numerous suggestions in the CLTCC's training manual which encourage long-term care insurance agents to consult with elder law attorneys so that these recommendations expressly exclude Medicaid planning practitioners. Unfortunately, most lawyers who term themselves "elder law" attorneys actively practice and encourage Medicaid planning. Consultations with such attorneys, therefore, may lead directly and immediately to artificial impover- ishment and welfare institutionalization of good people who could otherwise have obtained quality long-term care in the private marketplace at the ap- propriate level. Look instead for lawyers, whether elder law specialists or not, who always represent the frail senior instead of the adult child heir and who advocate zealously for top quality care rather than welfare eligibility.

And remember, Medicaid planning does not only hurt today's elderly. It reduces the insurable public's sense of urgency about long-term care and impedes growth of the long-term care insurance market. Long-term care insurance agents should focus like lasers on the need to insure the insurable and work closely with other professionals, including attorneys, financial planners and accountants, to help the unin- surable make the best possible use of their resources to obtain the kind and caliber of care they have earned and deserve. That is the only way America can save Medicaid for the genuinely needy and protect every- one else with private insurance.