The increasing number, importance and roles of life care planners represents one of the most significant developments S2KM has observed while attending 2014 structured settlement and settlement planning stakeholder educational conferences .
Historically, many structured settlement consultants and personal injury settlement planners have partnered with life care planners and incorporated life care plans into their reports.
In its Standards of Practice , the International Association of Life Care Planners (IALCP), which represents one section of the International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals, offers the following descriptions for:
- Life Care Planning: "a transdisciplinary specialty practice. Each profession brings to the process of Life Care Planning practice standards which must be adhered to by the individual professional, and these standards remain applicable while the practitioner engages in Life Care Planning activities."
- Life Care Plan: "a dynamic document based upon published standards of practice, comprehensive assessment, data analysis and research, which provides an organized, concise plan for current and future needs with associated cost for individuals who have experienced catastrophic injury or have chronic health care needs."
The first published reference to life care planning appeared in "Damages in Tort Actions" (1981), a multi-volume text written by life care planning pioneer Paul M. Deutsch Ph.D. and economist Fred Raffa Ph.D. according to an "Introduction to Life Care Planning" which appears on the Paul M. Deutsch & Associates website. Deutsch's "Introduction" further states that life care planning resulted from the integration of three distinct fields of practice: experimental analysis of behavior, developmental psychology, and case management.
Although life care planning originated within, and still primarily focuses upon, the field of personal injury litigation support, its expanded applications now encompass elder care, chronic illness, and discharge planning.
The strategic relationship among structured settlement consultants, settlement planners and life care planners has been further enhanced by Medicare set-aside arrangements (MSAs) which represents a strategically important sub-market for all three professional communities. Life care planners increasingly participate as, or work for, MSA allocators and administrators in addition to providing MSA life care plans and/or medical cost projections.
Life care planners predominate the membership of the National Alliance of Medicare Set-Aside Professionals (NAMSAP), "the only non-profit association exclusively addressing the issues and challenges of the Medicare Secondary Payer Statute and its impact on workers’ compensation and liability settlements". Multiple life care planners were among the featured speakers at NAMSAP's 2014 Winter Regional and Annual Meetings.
Individual life care planners have also expanded their profession's public profile during 2014 as featured speakers at other structured settlement and settlement planning stakeholder conferences including: AAJ (Susan Riddick-Grisham), ASNP (Ann Koerner), SSP (Christine Melancon), and NAELA (Beth Prather). Multiple life care planners exhibited at the AAJ 2014 Annual Conference.
Community Scope and Diversity
Most life care planners have a nursing background and many are members of the American Association of Nurse Life Care Planners (AANLCP). In addition to providing Standards of Practice and a Code of Professional Ethics, ASNLCP offers its members a certification program (CNLCP) and publishes a life care planning Journal. AANLCP's 2014 Educational Conference will take place October 24-27 in Atlanta.
Correction (8/18/2014) - A knowledgeable source has informed S2KM that most life care planners (a plurality) are not registered nurses, but rather vocational counselors, and/or educational consultants, psychologists, and social workers.
IALCP, a separate professional association, promotes itself as "an umbrella organization that supports all life care planners" working with other associations such as ASNLCP and the Foundation for Life Care Planning Research (FLCPR). In addition to its Standards of Practice, IALCP publishes the Journal of Life Care Planning , and sponsors the 2014 International Symposium on Life Care Planning scheduled for September 20-21 in Minneapolis.
Additional resources and diversity within the life care planning community:
- The International Commission on Health Care Certification offers professional credentialing to certify life care planners (CLCP) and Medicare set-aside consultants (MSCC)
- The Care Planner Network provides "an online community in which life care planning and case management professionals can share information about practice management, professional development and challenging case issues."
- "Life Care Planning and Case Management" - a textbook edited by Roger Weed and Deborah Berens is considered "The Bible" of life care planning according to industry representatives.
- Separate organizations featuring physicians and attorneys market life care planning products and services.
Impact of the Affordable Care Act
Although commentators generally agree the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) will impact life care planners and life care plans utilized in personal injury cases, their analysis and conclusions differ. Compare, for example:
- A paper titled "Potential Effects of the Affordable Care Act on the Award of Life Care Expenses", in which economists Joshua Congdon-Hohman and Victor A. Matheson predict life care planners will play an increasingly important role in personal injury damage analysis.
- Prior to the ACA, life care planners were tasked with identifying medical and living expenses not otherwise required "but for" the accident.
- Under the ACA, the authors maintain life care planners must also identify which health care and living expenses will, and will not, be covered by the ACA's minimum insurance requirements. And, despite certain minimum federal standards, these requirements may differ by state.
- A paper titled "How Obamacare May Limit Projected Expenses in Personal Injury Life Care Plans" in which attorneys Mark Yagerman and Max Bookman highlight the question of whether ACA implementation should override the collateral source rule and cause the courts or legislatures to allow direct presentation of the plaintiff’s health insurance coverage to the jury.
- If yes, the authors believe "such evidence should significantly curtail the persuasiveness that life care plans’ projections represent actual future medical expenses that are supposedly to be paid completely out-of-pocket by the plaintiff."
- The authors acknowledge, however, that certain future expenses in life care plans (“permanent confinement issues” such as long term care, nursing care, and homecare) are rarely covered by health insurance and will still be worked out pursuant to each state's collateral source rule.
- Other expenses (“frequency issues” such as continuous physical therapy and occupational therapy) are capped under most health insurance plans so recommended visits beyond the frequency cap could likewise be unaffected by the ACA.
- A power point titled "The Affordable Care Act: Taking a New Approach to Damages" in which presenters Caryn L. Lilling and Thomas R. Shimmel offer (beginning page 32) a critical "defense-oriented" view of life care planners and recommend ACA-enhanced strategies for attacking life care planners' professional credibility, testimony and work product.
Regardless of how future ACA-related litigation and legislation play out, life care planners and life care plans can be expected to continue to play an important role in personal injury negotiations and settlements. As a result, life care planners are likely to remain strategic analytic collaborators and work product contributors for structured settlement consultants and personal injury settlement planners.