Friday, January 20, 2006

Sketch of New Medicaid Rules - Don't like them? Call your Congressman!

Category: Elder Law

Given Florida's senior population, the proposed changes to the Medicaid laws is a topic that is receiving great coverage. From the South Florida Sun-Sentinel - a layman's thumbnail sketch of the new rules.

The House of Representatives will vote to finalize the new Medicaid Transfer Penalty Rule this on February 1. Contact your congressman to express your concerns about transfer penalties that will leave vulnerable seniors in need of nursing home care no where to go as no funds will exist to pay for their care.

"Currently, making a significant financial gift to friends or family within the past three years would disqualify you from receiving Medicaid coverage for nursing home care. The new law, pending before Congress, extends this so-called 'lookback' period to five years.

If you do make a gift, there is a 'penalty period' before you can reapply for Medicaid, calculated on a formula based on average nursing home cost and the size of the gift. Currently, the penalty period begins when the gift was made. But under the new law, it would begin when the Medicaid application was made, meaning you could wait for many months before you were eligible to reapply.

Anyone with $500,000 or more equity in their home would be disqualified from applying for Medicaid, which might hurt those with modest incomes living in South Florida's inflated housing market. [Similar to New Jersey's highly inflated housing market]

The government would become the prime beneficiary, before children or relatives, on some annuities if the holder applies for Medicaid. Mortgages and promissory notes would be counted as assets.

Nursing home residents, or the homes themselves on behalf of their residents, could ask Medicaid to pay for care by showing a hardship exists. Each state would establish its own hardship process."


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