In a 2017 the Georgia Bureau of Investigation claimed that investigations into elder abuse and adults with disabilities had increased by 145% in the last 5 years. Unfortunately, those living with diminished physical or mental capabilities in long-term care facilities are often vulnerable to abuse. In the wake of this information Georgia lawmakers recently strengthened regulations governing background checks for long-term care workers.
Georgia Long-term Care Background Check Program (Senate Bill 406)
Prior to Senate Bill 406, Georgia law only required that a potential elder care employees provide their name for a state wide background check. If the person provided a false name, or had committed a crime in another state, this information was largely unkown.
Senate Bill 406 enacts the Georgia Long-term Care Background Check Program. The program requires the fingerprinting of all potential elder care employees that have direct access to patients. Fingerprints will be checked in national databases to prevent those with a history of abuse from working with older adults. The new law, effective Oct. 1, 2019, applies to owners, staff, nurses, janitors employed at assisted living, home health care and hospice facilities.
Experts say 70% of seniors will need some sort of long-term care in their lifetime. Long-term care can include everything from help around the home and yard, to running errands, to more personal care such as feeding, hygiene and medical needs.
Long-term Care Costs
The cost of long-term care in Georgia continues to rise each year. The average private nursing home room in Savannah costs $6,783 a month. These costs are expected to rise to $9,116 by 2027, according to the Genworth 2017 Cost of Care Survey.
Some people mistakenly believe that health insurance or Medicare will cover skilled nursing care costs. Health insurance does not, and Medicare covers care for a consecutive max of 100 days following a hospitalization and requires a huge co-pay after the first 20 days. The average long-term care user requires care for at least three years, meaning many will have to pay out of pocket. This can drain financial resources at a rapid rate and leave families devastated.
Planning for Long-term Care
Luckily, there are other options to financially assist with long term care costs. An elder law attorney can help determine if you are eligible for Medicaid or Veterans Aid and Attendance benefits. Either of these resources can help pay for care so that you don’t end up financially strapped.
Medicaid will cover your long-term health needs if you have less than $2,000 in assets. This generally does not include your house or car and in Georgia your spouse may keep up to $123,600 in assets.
The VA Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit offers about $2,000 a month to help veterans and their surviving spouses who meet certain income requirements pay for home care, assisted living or nursing care as well as medical supplies and medicines.
At Smith Barid, we analyze your current medical needs, sources of income, insurance policies and other assets available to cover future costs of living and costs of care. If, based on all the information gathered and reviewed, you are or could be eligible for benefits to help cover the cost of care, your elder law attorney can use that information to tailor your plan.