bethel

National Changes in Healthcare Law Affect Medi-Cal

National Changes in Healthcare Law Affect Medi-Cal

Sweeping changes imposed upon the healthcare and insurance industries on a national level are set to take effect in less than a year. The Affordable Care Act requires states to transition into compliance with the new laws by 2014, which has left Medi-Cal officials in California scrambling to make the necessary changes to the program. For those applying for Medi-Cal, getting approved for the program may at first glance seem much easier. The changes required by law will mean that more individuals will be able to qualify for Medi-Cal, as the income limits will be raised and childless couples will now be eligible. This could mean good news for seniors who are retiring, particularly those whose incomes were initially slightly too high for them to qualify. The new eligibility rules could create a significant strain on the government-funded healthcare program, however. Currently Medi-Cal covers approximately 7 million Californians, and that number is expected to increase by about 1 to 1.4 million between 2014 and 2019. Unfortunately, what this could mean is a severe shortage in the number of available physicians and a longer wait to see a specialist. The current wait to see a doctor is four to six weeks except in cases of emergency, and patients could see this time frame extended even longer due to a shortage of physicians who accept Medi-Cal payments. The new program rules will also include different tiers of eligibility, with some patients receiving free care while others will be required to pay premiums of varying amounts, depending upon income. Patients should also expect to see a shift toward more preventive care, as program planners hope this will ease the burden upon the system. As with any large government-run entity, pervasive changes in the program will translate into changes for the individuals who depend upon it. As changes to Medi-Cal occur over the coming months, those who apply for the program may face different requirements than in the past. The attorneys at Bethel Law are experienced in navigating the Medi-Cal system, and are dedicated to staying up to date on changes in the law which affect the...

Read More

Methods of Legally Protecting Intellectual Property

Methods of Legally Protecting Intellectual Property

The beauty of human innovation is that all of the advances we’ve made as a species first started as an idea within someone’s imagination. Businesses are often founded on a unique idea or invention, and it follows, then, that protecting those ideas would be in the company’s best interests. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, there are four ways to protect intellectual property. Patents protect the company’s right to an idea or invention for up to 20 years, and will fall under three main categories. Design patents protect ornamental designs which are new and original, and apply to manufactured items. The design of a tennis shoe could be protected under this type of patent. Utility patents may also apply to manufactured items, as well as machines, compositions of matter, and processes. Plant patents are designed to exclusively protect new or discovered varieties of plants, such as hybridized versions. Trademarks are designed to reserve the rights to a name, word, phrase, symbol, color or even a sound which distinguishes an item or service as a unique product. Unlike patents, which have an expiration date, a trademark may continue to be renewed indefinitely. Copyrights protect a body of written work, music or artwork which is protected by the Library of Congress. This protection lasts for the life of the author, plus 50 years after his death, during which time the work cannot be lawfully reproduced without permission from the owner. Trade Secrets can be information which a company uses for competitive advantage in the business world. This information is held secret and cannot be used by competitors, although there are some methods of avoiding legal repercussions through methods like independent research or discovery. One common example is the formula used by the Coca Cola company, which is has been kept secret for the life of the company in order to preserve the unique nature of the product. Bethel Law Corporation is experienced in the protection and defense of intellectual property with particular emphasis on trade secrets, their documentation, implementation, development, sale, and licensing. Please call our office to arrange a...

Read More

The Importance of Corporate Social Responsibility Reports

The Importance of Corporate Social Responsibility Reports

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reporting has become a popular method for companies to integrate CSR and sustainability into their decision-making processes. This tool helps the company to identify material issues, risks, and opportunities. By reporting on its environmental, economic, and social impact on the community, a company is able to engage with stakeholders and maintain a meaningful dialogue on the direction of the business. In an age of negative public perception of corporations, CSR reports can help to build a company’s positive image. Regular CSR reports which are relevant, honest, and correctly targeted will strengthen credibility with stakeholders and the general public, and in turn aid the company in gaining a competitive advantage. Reports also improve employee morale and motivation, as they gain confidence in their employer and their own roles within the company. We are currently seeing a shift in reporting methods, from simply informing the public to a more comprehensive approach of engaging with them in open and meaningful dialogue. CSR is no longer an afterthought, but is integrated into mainstream corporate communications. The delivery method for communications should reflect the diverse needs of stakeholders. For this reason, a web-based approach is more desirable and is becoming more common. The flexibility of communicating via the internet allows global stakeholders greater access to information, and allows companies to update information in real time. CSR reporting via the web also allows for better customization of message delivery, with richer content and more engaging multimedia options. Company websites are seen by the public as key sources for information. Therefore, they should be seen by corporations as a primary means of communicating their CSR activities. As the digital age progresses, full CSR reporting via the web will become even more critical to competition and success. Bethel Law Corporation is experienced in CSR reporting. Please contact us to set up a...

Read More

Business Process Improvement Strategy

Business Process Improvement Strategy

In the business world, much depends upon developing a clear and competitive strategy. This is why business leaders spend so much time and money on research and development of their ideas. However, no amount of strategy will help a business succeed unless the plans are executed correctly. Efficient and effective operating processes are needed to avoid waste of time, money and resources. This also supports employee morale, as workers see their efforts pay off in increased productivity and success for the company as a whole. Successful companies realize these facts, and employ business process improvement methods in order to ensure their success. These methods may be introduced by either an internal team or external consultants, but the process is relatively the same for each. A good business process improvement plan will seek to identify the goals of both the customer and the business. Then the key business processes which are intended to meet these goals are analyzed in three ways. It is recognized that the way a process is viewed by workers and management is not usually how it actually works in real life. This difference is often the culprit in production and customer service problems. The business process improvement team then conceptualizes the process the way it should work, and re-engineers it to meet these new, improved standards. The end result is an operating procedure that works in real life the way it was designed, reduces waste of time and resources, and results in greater customer satisfaction. Obviously, in tough economic times the need for business process improvement increases. As companies fail due to the poor economy, there is an even more pressing desire to stay ahead of the competition. When prices rise on fuel and other resources, it is imperative to reduce waste and streamline operation times. However, simply hiring a process improvement team may not solve all of these problems. Business leaders should take special care not to implement any new procedures that violate industry regulations or the law. All new operations must continue to comply with the law while providing the desired streamlined and cost-cutting effects. After all, doing things the easy way is not always the best way in the long run, and this fact is often reflected in the rules created by society. Consultation with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney is the key to making sure business process improvement is implemented successfully. Contact...

Read More

Probate Proceedings

Probate Proceedings

After the death of a loved one, there will be many legal steps which must be taken before their property can be divided as stated in the Last Will and Testament (“Will”). Generally speaking, this process will take place in probate court, unless legal steps to avoid probate were taken before the death. The Will has no legal authority until it has been approved in probate court, and only then will the assets and property be divided amongst heirs as required in the document. The process begins when the deceased person’s representative files a number of documents with the court, including the official death certificate and the original Will. It is then determined whether the estate will go through formal or informal probate. Informal probate proceedings are almost always much faster and less complicated, and therefore more desirable. However, formal probate will be required for estates in which the sum of assets is worth more than $150,000 (some exemptions to inclusion apply) or there is real estate worth more than $50,000 involved, and in which the deceased was not married with all assets designated to the surviving spouse. If the estate is assigned to formal probate, the court will hold a hearing in order to determine the validity of the Will as well as the competency of the testator at the time of the Will’s drafting . Witnesses may be called to testify to the Will’s authenticity and to affirm that it was properly executed as required by law. During this time objections to the Will may be filed, and this can often complicate proceedings and keep the estate tied up in probate for considerable time. Under informal probate, the process proceeds much more smoothly, and often without further address of the Court. The decedent’s representative will still need to complete a number of forms, provide notice to parties of interest, address any creditor claims, appraise assets and distribute as specified by the Will. Whether an estate is assigned to formal or informal probate, the process can be quite difficult and often includes many potential pitfalls unless legal representation is sought. The assistance of an experienced attorney will often help the process move along more quickly, and will protect heirs from various legal liabilities which can occur. Please contact us directly to set up a...

Read More