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Fiscal cliff deal contains both good and bad news for seniors

January 3, 2013

Earlier this week, Congress passed a bill to narrowly avoid going over the so-called fiscal cliff - a series of deep spending cuts and tax hikes that would affect millions of Americans. The legislation has ramifications for most people, but when it comes to senior living costs, the bill contains some good news, according to AARP.

Potential cuts to Medicare were among the biggest concerns heading into fiscal cliff negotiations, and the last-minute deal prevented any slashes to the vital program. There will be no changes to benefits for now, but Congress is expected to bring up the discussion again when they talk about raising the debt ceiling in the coming weeks.

In addition to no changes to Medicare, Social Security was left untouched for the time being. However, according to AARP, there could be potential changes to the program in the impending negotiations.

Social Security and Medicare were not the only issues pertinent to senior living that were addressed. The bill also included some changes to the estate tax. If the country had gone over the fiscal cliff, the estate tax ceiling would have dropped from around $5 million to $1 million, and the rate would have been raised to 55 percent. In a compromise, the ceiling stayed at $5 million, but the tax rate rose from 35 to 40 percent.

Although there was some positive developments for older adults, the deal was not all good news. For one, it repealed the CLASS program, which was enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act and was intended to help reduce the costs of long-term care, according to the National Council on Aging. Instead, the bill created a committee to come up with new recommendations for how to address the long-term care issue.