Elliott Andalman and Mary Ellen Flynn are on the Legal Advisory Committee of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, National Capital Chapter. Elliott Attended the September 2013 meeting of the Committee which received a report on the implementation of the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) by Deanna Okrent, Senior Health Policy Associate at the Alliance for Health Reform. The upshot of the report was that implementation is going well, despite the strident objections of those opposed to the expansion of federal government regulations to expand and improve health insurance coverage. The ACA provides improved coverage for all Americans and allows Americans access to affordable coverage even when their employer does not provide it. It also provides that insurance companies cannot have either an annual cap on benefits or lifetime cap on benefits, and cannot refuse or penalize a person because of pre-existing medical problems. The biggest problem is that there will be a group of low-income workers who will be excluded from coverage in states that refuse to expand Medicaid coverage – which are states with Republican controlled legislatures.
Also at the meeting, Elliott reported on recent developments at the Social Security Administration relevant to disability benefit claims. There is concern that SSA or Congress may change rules regarding the processing of Social Security Disability benefit claims in order to make it harder to win. SSA has reported that there has been a significant increase since the economic collapse in 2008 in claims for disability benefits and awards of disability benefits. This appears to be the result of both an aging population and high unemployment. As a result, the Trust fund is expected to be depleted in 2016. Thus Congressional action will be necessary to correct the status of the Trust. It is not clear at this time how these issues will be resolved.