The increasing number, importance and roles of life care planners represents a significant development impacting several overlapping markets including structured settlements, personal injury settlement planning, special needs planning, and Medicare set-asides (MSAs).
This S2KM blog post continues a three part interview with Wendie A. Howland, MN, RN-BC, CRRN, CCM, CNLCP, LNCC, a nationally recognized life care planning expert, in which Wendie addresses life care planning qualifications, case management, industry standards, and criticism of life care planners among other issues. Link for Part 1.
S2KM: The two most important U.S. based life care planning professional associations appear to be the International Association of Life Care Planners (IALCP) and the American Association of Nurse Life Care Planners (AANLCP). You belong to the AANLCP.
- How many nurses belong to AANLCP?
- Who are/were the pioneers responsible for developing nurse life care planning?
Ms. HOWLAND: Currently, there are roughly 350 AANLCP members. Not all have earned CNLCP certification. Some are LNCP-Cs and CLCPs, and/or nurses without formal life care planning credentials. All full AANLCP members are registered nurses bound by the ANA Scope and Standards of Nursing Practice and the nurse practice acts of our respective states. Some CNLCPs and RN CLCPs are not AANLCP members. There are also some associate AANLCP members who are not RNs. AANLCP has some Canadian members who are bound by their own nurse practice act.
These excerpts from the AANLCP Core Curriculum for Nurse Life Care Planning (2013) highlight some of our profession's pioneers:
- Lillian Wald - "In the early 1900s, Lillian Wald promoted the term 'public health nurse,' expanding nursing practice to encompass employment, recreation, health education, and sanitation....By the 1940s, the insurance industry was using case management as a method of cost containment"
- Paul Deutsch - "In the mid-1970s, Paul Deutsch first identified the term 'Life Care Planning,' referring to future needs, to describe a tool to project the costs of medical care in the litigation environment." In "Damages in Tort Actions" (1981), a multi-volume text, Deutsch and co-author Fred Raffa "referenced case management, catastrophic disability case management, and catastrophic disability research as means to project future medical care."
- Kelly Lance - "In 1997, the discipline of nurse life care planning (NLCP) began" when Kelly Lance founded AANLCP. "She developed a NLCP curriculum with the nursing process methodology at its core, including concepts and skills pertaining to LCP application in the medical-legal arena."
S2KM: What advantages and disadvantages do nurse life care planners offer compared with life care planners with alternative professional backgrounds and certifications?
Ms. HOWLAND: Our advantage is our licensure as registered nurses. We explicitly use nursing diagnosis, a recognized scientifically validated taxonomy to justify the items in our plan that are based on our nursing assessments. This means that we do not practice medicine, we stay within our scope of practice, and our recommendations stand independent of approval from any other discipline.
S2KM: As editor of the AANCPL Journal, how do you stay "ahead of the knowledge curve" on life care planning issues and developments?
Ms. HOWLAND: Serving as editor of professional journals and the AANLCP Core Curriculum helps inform my practice of life care planning. Reading submissions and working with peer reviewers and authors are excellent ways to learn and help guide my professional practice. Of course, I also attend national educational forums, speak at some, and write articles.
S2KM: What are the most important current issues and developments facing life care planning?
Ms. HOWLAND: Whether and how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) affects life care planning is probably our most important current issue. For example, two recent California cases appear to require cost offsets based on past or existing insurance benefits. Historically, only Federal vaccine injury fund cases have required such offsets in life care plans. An upcoming issue of the Journal of Legal Nursing will focus on ACA-related issues.
S2KM: Some commentators have suggested the ACA will eliminate the need for life care plans in personal injury cases. Do you agree or disagree?
Ms. HOWLAND: I disagree. The vast majority of life care plan items and their associated costs are not covered by health insurance, including Medicare or Medicaid. Persons who seriously suggest that the ACA will render the need for life care plans moot are poorly-informed on health insurance, life care planning, or both. They should pull out the big booklet that describes their own health insurance and read it. They will be shocked.
S2KM: How important is the Medicare set-aside (MSA) market for life care planners? How does a life care planner's work product for MSAs differ, if at all, compared to work product for non-MSA applications?
Ms. HOWLAND: MSAs take Medicare’s interest into account in funding settlements. Currently, they are only required for worker’s compensation cases. Most life care plan costs are for items that Medicare does not cover. Therefore, it is comparatively simple for whoever prepares the MSA to abstract the applicable information from the much more comprehensive life care plan. Your readers should also know that although MSA certifications exist, Medicare has no requirement whatsoever for persons preparing MSAs to hold any type of certification.
S2KM: How can structured settlement professionals, settlement planners and special needs attorneys learn more about life care planning?
Ms. HOWLAND: I recommend that they ask us directly. Most life care planners welcome opportunities to visit an office or to attend a conference. Understanding the differences between certified nurse life care planners (CNLCP, LNCP-C) and non-nurse CLCPs is also important. Interested professionals should review the IARP and AANCLP websites for information, attend our conferences, and/or invite us to speak at their conferences.
In Part 3 of S2KM's interview with Wendie Howland, Wendie will respond to criticism some attorneys have directed at life care planners.