• December 5, 2008 at 5:31 am

    Medicaid was considered a complicated program when President
    Lyndon B. Johnson first signed it into law at the Truman Library in
    Independence, Missouri, and it has grown even more complex during
    each of the thirty years since.

    Although it is a national program, it is administered by each
    state. The rules and regulations are constantly changing and can
    vary widely from state to state. So, it’s no wonder there are many
    myths and inaccuracies surrounding the program.

    This month, we are taking a look at the common misconceptions
    we hear frequently about Medicaid.

    “My mother heard about someone who…”

    All too often, we meet people who have heard horror stories
    about Medicaid from well-meaning friends or family members. These
    stories are often filled with inaccuracies and half-truths that
    frighten people into spending every last dime on nursing home care
    for themselves or a loved one before turning to Medicaid for help.

    Similar stories have also prompted people to assume that what
    worked for a friend will work for them as well. So, they may give
    their house or all of their assets to a child in hopes that
    impoverishing themselves will immediately qualify them for
    benefits. Unfortunately, they soon find out that these transfers
    mean they are unable to receive benefits for several months or even
    years after the money is gone.

    That’s why it is important to contact an attorney who
    concentrates his or her practice in elder law. With a clear picture
    of your specific situation, an elder law attorney can explain those
    laws that should allow an individual or married couple to preserve
    their house and enough of their assets to live comfortably for the
    rest of their lives.

    “My father is already in the nursing home so there’s nothing we can
    do now.”

    It’s true that a family can wait longer than they should to
    contact an elder law attorney but it’s rarely ever too late to
    establish a good plan. A good rule of thumb is that the earlier a
    plan is put in place, the more assets can be preserved.

    So, when is the right time to call an elder law attorney? You
    should pick up the phone right now if you or a loved one does not
    have a Power of Attorney in place for financial and health care
    decisions. It’s important these documents are put in place before a
    gradual or sudden decline in mental competency occurs. It’s also
    important to make sure the financial Power of Attorney contains the
    right language so Medicaid planning is possible.

    You should also call right now if you think that nursing home
    care will be needed by a loved one. This may be due to a diagnosis
    of a terminal or debilitating illness, such as Alzheimer’s,
    Parkinson’s or ALS. It may also be that your loved one is being
    discharged from the hospital and told he or she will be unable to
    care for themselves at home. All of these situations should be
    reviewed by an elder law attorney to determine what type of
    planning can be done.

    “The Medicaid office can just give me the paperwork.”

    Those who work in the Medicaid office cannot offer you legal
    advice. You may not learn about laws that may allow you to receive
    Medicaid and still keep part or all of your spouse’s income as well
    as your own. Nor can they represent you or give you advice on the
    laws that, depending on your specific situation, may allow you to
    keep all of your assets without spending down a single penny.
    Medicaid has rules and regulations in place to ensure families
    don’t lose everything to nursing home costs. An elder law attorney can explain how those laws may benefit you and your family.

  • December 6, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    😀 Thanks Marcus for the explaination of Medicaid. It is beneficial to know all that we can from the start and less stressful when the time comes to put all the information aquired into action.

  • December 12, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    A huge thank you from me as well, Marcus. I am just beginning the journey on how to provide for my DH, who will be in need of NH care in the near future. Thanks for all info and I am going to contact an Elder Law Attorney now.