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April 2013 Archives

Medicaid expansion debate heats up Texas senator

A provision in the new health care law known as Obamacare would expand the base of people who are eligible for Medicaid, result in crowding out of privately offered health insurance, and yield fewer health care options for low-income earners in the state of Texas. This is the philosophy of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who is concerned that an increase in Medicaid eligibility will do more harm than good.Proponents of the health care reform law largely support the Medicaid expansion, which would broaden the base of people who are eligible for Medicaid to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Others who oppose at least the Medicaid expansion section of the new health care reform legislation believe that a provision such as this will actually cause a large shift in numbers of people from privately carried, or employer-sponsored, health care insurance to the government-subsidized Medicaid program, which is at no cost to its participants. This crowding-out effect is of serious concern to some in the legislature as well as in the private insurance industry. Another concern expressed by Senator Cruz is that of the potential decline in the quality of health care services that will be available to the new Medicaid enrollees under this plan. Noting that there are many doctors and other health care providers in the state of Texas that do not accept Medicaid patients, Senator Cruz asserted that these individuals may find themselves suddenly shopping for a doctor against their wishes.

Veteran's Affairs scandal exposes gaps in care for aging veterans

In order to repair its flagging image, officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) held public meetings to speak directly with concerned veterans. The response by vets during the meetings was both candid and critical. As veterans across Texas and the nation wait to voice their concerns, the VA faces tough questions about its level of care. Among the most criticized issues were the national shortages of qualified primary care medical staff, poor sterilization in VA facilities and improperly read radiology reports. Attendees voiced their concern that the veteran's benefits they have counted on supply little more than poor medical care, placing aging vets at particular risk.

Second marriages require special estate planning

Many marriages in Texas end in divorce, and people are remarrying at older ages. Because the spouses at the time of the other spouses' deaths may not be their first husbands or wives, estate planning must take marital history into consideration. This is especially true if there are children from previous marriages who may receive inheritances under wills or estate plans.It is not uncommon that someone remarrying has adult children for whom he or she wants to provide. There is also the question of ensuring that the new spouse have sufficient money to survive, especially if the partners have reached retirement age. In many cases, trusts are established to give the new spouses income during their lifetimes and then to distribute the assets fairly among surviving children.

In second marriages, post-nuptual agreements help secure assets

According to experts, those entering into a second marriage often face many more complications regarding assets and personal property than they did in their first marriage, and the estimated divorce rate for second marriages is approximately 60 percent. This is perhaps why both pre- and post-nuptial agreements are becoming more commonly used today. Estate planning is one financial decision where such agreements can be beneficial.For instance, if someone who is getting remarried has adult children, those children may feel more entitled to their parent's property in case of death than the second spouse. However, most states have laws that entitle the surviving spouse to approximately one-third of the estate's assets, even if the surviving children are named as beneficiaries in a will.

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