Tough questions about the availability of Medicaid
A Wall Street Journal article this weekend asked some tough questions about the availability of Medicaid nationwide. At the Elder Law office we realize that many local residents are understandably concerned about the program in our state–it is an essential lifeline for many seniors. The latest WSJ article suggest that some states are making it harder for individuals to receive Medicaid help to pay for long-term care costs–however, the "crack down" on Medicaid expenditures is advancing very differently in certain states.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Medicaid now accounts for about 40% of long-term care spending nationwide. The program is a joint state and federal effort that provides healthcare resources for those unable to afford it. There are federal qualification guidelines, but states are free to work within those guidelines to set specific standards about what is required before a resident is able to receive Medicaid support. As a result of this state flexibility, there can be significant differences in qualification factors in different parts of the country.
Considering that most state are experiencing budget shortfalls, many are looking into different ways to save on these costs. Of course, Medicaid changes and proposals are frequently in the news, as local policymakers continue to explore various ways to save money. As the article notes, some of those proposed changes include tinkering with the ways that the state can recover costs from the estates of those who used the program. At the Elder Law office we closely follow those issues, so that local families are best positioned to receive the care they need while saving as many assets as allowable under the law.
Some states have proposed cuts to Medicaid, adult health program closures, and tightening of qualification standards are all possibilities in states with particularly tough budget scenarios. That is not to say that there may not be changes to the system in our state in the coming months and years. But, there is no need for local residents to make any misguided assumptions about the elimination of the program entirely. The article notes that, as always, it is prudent to visit with professionals when in need of Medicaid help. Professionals in this area can explain "look-back" rules, trusts, and long-term care insurance that may all factor into prudent planning in your specific situation.Tags: elder law, long term care, long term care insurance, medicaid, Wall Street Journal