PROTECTING YOUR HOUSE AFTER YOU MOVE INTO A NURSING HOME

While you generally do not have to sell your home in order to qualify for Medicaid coverage of nursing home care, it is possible the state can file a claim against your house after you die. If you get help from Medicaid to pay for the nursing home, the state must attempt to recoup from your estate whatever benefits it paid for your care. This is called “estate recovery, and given the rules for Medicaid eligibility, the only property of substantial value that a Medicaid recipient is likely to own at death is his or her home. If possible, you should consult with an attorney before entering a nursing home, or as soon as possible afterwards, in order to discuss ways to protect your home.

In those states that have implemented the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, the home is not counted as an asset for Medicaid eligibility purposes if the equity is less than $500,000 ($750,000 in some states). In all states, you may keep your house with no equity limit if your spouse or another dependent relative lives there.

Transferring a Home

In most states, transferring your house to your children (or someone else) may lead to a Medicaid penalty period, which would make you ineligible for Medicaid for a period of time. There are circumstances in which it is legal to transfer a house, however, so consult an attorney before making any transfers. (For example, transfers to a disabled child or one who qualifies as a “caregiver child are permitted.) While you can sell your house for fair market value, it may make you ineligible for Medicaid and you may have to apply the proceeds of the sale to your nursing home bills.

Lien on Home

Except in certain circumstances, Medicaid may put a lien on your house for the amount of money spent on your care. If the property is sold while you are still living, you would have to satisfy the lien by paying back the state. The exceptions to this rule are cases where a spouse, a disabled or blind child, a child under age 21, or a sibling with an equity interest in the house is living there.

Estate Recovery

If your spouse, a disabled or blind child, a child under age 21, or a sibling with an equity interest in the house, lives in the house, the state cannot file a claim against the house for reimbursement of Medicaid nursing home expenses. However, once your spouse or dependent relative dies or moves out, the state can try to collect.

But there are some circumstances under which the value of a house can be protected from Medicaid recovery. The state cannot recover if you and your spouse owned the home as tenants by the entirety or if the house is in your spouse’s name and you have relinquished your interest. If the house is in an irrevocable trust, the state cannot recover from it.

In addition, some children or relatives may be able to protect a nursing home residents house if they qualify for an undue hardship waiver. For example, if your daughter took care of you before you entered the nursing home and has no other permanent residence, she may be able to avoid a claim against your house after you die. Consult with an attorney to find out if the undue hardship waiver may be applicable.

 

MEDICAID ELIGIBILITY

In any state you may be eligible to have your medical expenses covered by the states Medicaid program. This depends on several factors, such as your income level and how many children your family has. However, there are many different factors involved in determining whether or not you are eligible for Medicaid, making the process confusing.

Eligibility is a challenging matter that an experienced and qualified Medicaid attorney can help you sort out. Attorneys are experienced in helping their clients determine whether or not they are eligible for Medicaid benefits. If you have the right attorney, your case will be resolved in no time at all.

Medicaid provides access to the following: dental services, preventative health screenings, breast and cervical cancer screenings, medical care when illness happens, mental health services, and more. Medicaid is useful for those whom are seeking to take care of their medical problems if they are uninsured.

If you are looking for health insurance that you could otherwise not afford, then you should consider taking advantage of the Medicaid benefits available to you. To do this, you will have to fill out a Medicaid application. A Medicaid application attorney can assist you in the process and help determine whether or not you are eligible for Medicaid. A Medicaid attorney can also assist you in filing appeals against Medicaid and making sure that you are being treated fairly.

Medicaid is a beneficial program that comes along with confusing paperwork, so you can hire a Medicaid attorney to help you make this easy.

 

MEDICAID APPLICATION ATTORNEY

Do you live in the United States? Are you a low-income person without access to health insurance? Are you one illness away from being homeless? Do you think you are eligible for Medicaid? Have you applied for Medicaid? Have you attempted to apply for Medicaid? Do you want to apply for Medicaid?

Medicaid is a government program designed to provide low-income families with health benefits. However, applying for Medicaid is a confusing and time-confusing process. So, a Medicaid application attorney can benefit you by allowing you to apply for Medicaid in a straightforward manner. You need be able to obtain your benefits that are given to you by the federal government, and applying for the benefits is the first step!

Consulting with a Medicaid attorney can help you decide whether or not you are eligible for Medicaid in any state. Medicaid law is a challenge for the average person to understand, so a Medicaid lawyer can assist you with your application! A simple consultation with an attorney can save you a lot of time and hassle.

The risk of a person’s claim being denied by Medicaid is highly great. Consider the case of a boy named Deamonte Driver, whom needed a simple tooth extraction to remove an infected tooth, but his claim was denied through Medicaid, and died as a result of a brain infection related to the tooth extraction. You would not want this to happen to your child, would you?

Medicaid is a highly beneficial program that is useful so that you do not end up having to go bankrupt over a medical case. Thus, it is important that you do not take chances with having a denied claim and consider hiring a Medicaid Attorney to fight for your rights today!

MEDICAID 2010

CMS ANNOUNCES MEDICARE PREMIUMS, DEDUCTIBLES FOR 2010

Most Medicare beneficiaries will not see a Part B monthly premium increase as a result of a “hold harmless provision in the current law.  This allows for 73 percent of beneficiaries to be protected from an increase raising the 2010 Part B monthly premiums from $96.40 to $110.50.  The Administration continues to urge Congressional action that would protect all beneficiaries from higher Part B premiums and eliminate the inequity of a high premium for the remaining 27 percent of beneficiaries.

By law, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is required to announce the Part A deductibles and Part B premium amount a notice that is published annually in the Federal Register.

Under the Medicare law, the standard premium is set to cover approximately one-fourth of the average cost of Part B services incurred by beneficiaries aged 65 and over.   The remaining Part B costs are financed by Federal general revenues. This monthly premium paid by beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Part B covers a portion of the cost of physicians services, outpatient hospital services, certain home health services, durable medical equipment, and other items.

In calculating the monthly Part B premium each year, the CMS Office of the Actuary includes a contingency margin to provide for possible variation between actual and projected costs.  The size of the contingency margin estimated to be needed for 2010 is affected by two main factors.

First, the current law formula for physician fees, which will result in a reduction in physician fees of approximately 21 percent in 2010 and is projected to cause additional reductions in subsequent years, is one factor affecting the 2010 contingency margin.  For each year from 2003 through 2009, Congress has acted to prevent physician fee reductions from occurring.

In recognition of the strong possibility of increases in Part B expenditures that would result from similar legislation to override the decreases in physician fees in 2010 or later years, it is appropriate to maintain a significantly larger Part B contingency reserve than would otherwise be necessary.  The asset level projected for the end of 2009 is not adequate to accommodate this contingency.

Second, the Social Security Administration announced there would be no increase in Social Security benefits for 2010.   As a result of the hold-harmless provision, the increase in the Part B premium for 2010 will be paid by only a small percentage of Part B enrollees. Most Part B enrollees will pay the same monthly premium that they paid in 2009 ($96.40 was the 2009 standard monthly premium).

Approximately 27 percent of beneficiaries are not subject to the hold-harmless provision because they are new enrollees during the year (3 percent), they are subject to the income-related additional premium amount (5 percent), they do not have their Part B premiums withheld from social security benefit payments (19 percent), including those who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid and have their Part B premiums paid on their behalf by Medicaid (17 percent).

As required in the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA), beginning in 2007 the Part B premium a beneficiary pays each month is based on his or her annual income.  Specifically, if a beneficiarys “modified adjusted gross income is greater than the legislated threshold amounts ($85,000 in 2010 for a beneficiary filing an individual income tax return or married and filing a separate return, and $170,000 for a beneficiary filing a joint tax return) the beneficiary is responsible for a larger portion of the estimated total cost of Part B benefit coverage.  In addition to the standard 25 percent premium, such beneficiaries now pay an income-related monthly adjustment amount.  These income-related Part B premiums were phased-in over three years, beginning in 2007.  About 5 percent of current Part B enrollees are expected to be subject to the higher premium amounts

The 2010 Part B monthly premium rates to be paid by beneficiaries who file an individual tax return (including those who are single, head of household, qualifying widow(er) with dependent child, or married filing separately who lived apart from their spouse for the entire taxable year), or who file a joint tax return are:

Beneficiaries who file an individual tax return with income: Beneficiaries who file a joint tax return with income: Income-related monthly adjustment amount Total monthly premium amount
Less than  or equal to $85,000 Less than or equal to $170,000 $0.00 $110.50
Greater than $85,000 and less than or equal to $107,000 Greater than $170,000 and less than or equal to $214,000 $44.20 $154.70
Greater than $107,000 and less than or equal to $160,000 Greater than $214,000 and less than or equal to $320,000 $110.50 $221.00
Greater than $160,000 and less than or equal to $214,000 Greater than $320,000 and less than or equal to $428,000 $176.80 $287.30
Greater than $214,000 Greater than $428,000 $243.10 $353.60

 

In addition, the monthly premium rates to be paid by beneficiaries who are married, but file a separate return from their spouse and lived with their spouse at any time during the taxable year are:

 

Beneficiaries who are married but file a separate tax return from their spouse: Income-related monthly adjustment amount Total monthly premium amount
Less than or equal to $85,000 $0.00 $110.50
Greater than $85,000 and less than or equal to $129,000 $176.80 $287.30
Greater than $129,000 $243.10 $353.60

 

Part B Deductible

The Part B deductible was increased to $110 in 2005 and, as a result of the Medicare Modernization Act, is currently indexed to the annual percentage increase in the Part B actuarial rate for aged beneficiaries.  In 2010, the Part B deductible will be $155.

Part A Premium and Deductible

Today, CMS is also announcing the Part A deductible and premium for 2010.  Medicare Part A pays for inpatient hospital, skilled nursing facility, hospice, and certain home health care services. The $1,100 deductible for 2010, paid by the beneficiary when admitted as a hospital inpatient, is an increase of $32 from $1,068 in 2009.  Beneficiaries must pay an additional $275 per day for days 61 through 90 in 2010, and $550 for lifetime reserve days.  The corresponding amounts in 2009 are $267 and $534, respectively. Daily coinsurance for the 21st through 100th day in a skilled nursing facility will be $137.50 in 2010, up from $133.50 in 2009.

Approximately 99 percent of Medicare beneficiaries do not have to pay a premium for Part A services because they have at least 40 quarters of Medicare-covered employment (or are the spouse or widow(er) of such a person).  However, other seniors and certain people under age 65 with disabilities who have fewer than 30 quarters of coverage may obtain Part A coverage by paying a monthly premium set according to a statutory formula.  This premium will be $461 per month for 2010, an increase of $18 from 2009.  A reduced premium applies in the case of individuals with 30 to 39 quarters of coverage, who will pay a premium of $254 in 2010, compared to $244 in 2009.

FORECLOSURE FRAUDS

This might not have much to do with Medicaid, but you might be in a situation where you are facing foreclosure. You might have been contacted by people offering you relief from your foreclosure.

There is a book out there ($20) that will help you avoid foreclosure rescue scams. Check it out:

WHAT ARE THE MEDICAID IMPLICATIONS OF A SECOND MARRIAGE?

For more information about Medicaid and Medicare,click here:

Seniors who get remarried are often concerned about what will happen to their assets if their new spouse enters the nursing home in the future. They are concerned that their hard-earned assets they saved could be lost. They also want to make sure that when they die their assets will go to their children. Although the prenuptial agreement will protect the senior’s assets from claims of his surviving spouse when he dies, the prenuptial agreement does not protect his assets from his spouse’s nursing home expenses. Seniors who have entered into second marriages are often surprised to learn that the prenuptial agreement that specified that their spouse had no claim to their assets does not prevent Medicaid from counting the assets of the spouse at home in determining Medicaid eligibility.

Medicaid is the governmental program that pays nursing home costs when a senior runs out of assets. Until the nursing home resident has less than $2,000 of countable assets, he must pay his own nursing home costs. When countable assets are less than $2,000, Medicaid will begin paying the senior’s nursing home costs.

However, just because the nursing home spouse has less than $2,000 in assets does not necessarily mean that the nursing home spouse will be eligible for Medicaid. Instead, despite the prenuptial agreement, Medicaid looks at the assets of both spouses. The rules for determining Medicaid eligibility are exactly the same for couples with prenuptial agreements and those without them.

This does not mean that all assets of both spouses must be used up before Medicaid will begin paying nursing home costs. Congress passed “spousal impoverishment rules to keep the spouse at home from having to be completely impoverished before Medicaid payments kick in.

Under these rules, the amount that the at-home spouse can keep is based on the resources that the couple has at the time one spouse enters an institution. Resources are counted (often referred to as a “snapshot” of resources) as of the date a senior first begins a period of continuous institutionalization. This can be when a senior enters a nursing home or when he first entered a hospital. So, if a spouse first enters a hospital prior to a nursing home, the snapshot is taken based on the date of admission to the hospital, not the nursing home. The spouse at home is permitted to keep half of the couple’s countable assets as of the snapshot date, up to $101,640; but the spouse in the nursing home is limited to $2,000 of countable assets.

FEDERAL NURSING HOME SITE NOW NOTES TROUBLED FACILITIES

The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that its Web site comparing nursing homes will now identify facilities that are on its list of those that have a history of poor performance.

From now on, the agency’s Nursing Home Compare site will point out nursing homes that it calls Special Focus Facilities those that have repeated violations of state and federal health and safety rules and that rank in the worst 5 percent to 10 percent for inspection results in a given state. CMS released the names of the 131 SFF facilities earlier this year, but this is the first time they will be included on the Nursing Home Compare site.

The troubled facilities are identified by a small “2″ in superscript next to a facility’s name.

A Wall Street Journal article on the CMS decision notes that “consumer groups and nursing home officials warn, however, that nothing can substitute for visiting a nursing home in person. The article also highlights a free Web site MemberoftheFamily.net that features easy-to-read, color-coded assessments of nursing homes nationwide.

The Journal article observes that CMS began making some of the information about problematic nursing homes public last fall after pressure from Sens. Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Charles Grassley (R-IA). The senators are sponsoring a bill that would force CMS to reveal even more data about nursing homes and Grassley is trying to get the provisions added to a Medicare-related bill expected to pass Congress by July 1.

A MEDICAID STORY THAT STARTS OUT BAD BUT TURNS OUT JUST FINE

Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq., a NJ Medicaid Eligibility Attorney

Recently, we posted an article about a Dad who gifted a large sum to his children and within 6 months needed long term care. Because the money had been spent and could not be returned I had to explain to the daughter that Dad would not be eligible for Medicaid for 4 and years. A complete disaster. But this week lets take a look at a success story, long before long term care and Medicaid were needed.

Mary contacted our office concerning her mom who was living in an assisted living facility. Mom had transferred her assets to her 3 daughters. They had begun to spend some of the money on Mom’s care but had also opened and closed accounts, moving, combining and commingling assets. Over time it would have been very difficult to follow the paper trail and establish with Medicaid that Mom’s money had been spent for her care, and not gifted to the children. Unlike last weeks family, however, Mary’s early contact with us allowed sufficient time to correct this paper maze.

We counseled Mary that the assets had to be returned, and, thankfully, although some had been spent on Mom’s care, she and her sisters still had possession of the balance. We guided Mary on the records that she needed to obtain in preparation for the anticipated Medicaid application. She prepared invoices and documentation showing that the cash withdrawals were not gifts, but payment for services, including a statement from the facility. Mary had been paying the facility bill on her credit card and then taking money from Mom’s account (which was titled in Mary’s name). We had her go back through her records and copy the credit card bills with those charges and match up payments back to her from “Mom’s account. We counseled her on a better way to make those payments.

Finally, Mary and her sisters had moved money from one account to another, for convenience, a better interest rate or to keep FDIC insurance coverage. Without recognizing it, however, they were muddying the paper trail. You see, Medicaid requires as many as 5 years of financial records to show how money has been spent. Mary and her sisters didn’t realize the problems they were creating. Our staff painstakingly had to document all the transfers from one account to another and transfers in and out of each account.

As I said, this was a success story. We provided Medicaid with details of each transaction, backed by supporting documentation. Every dollar had been accounted for. Financially, the family can rest easy that Mom’s care is paid for and the nursing facility, which receives those Medicaid benefits, is happy that their resident went from private pay to Medicaid without interruption of payment. An example of the way things can work if you have someone with knowledge guiding you through the process.