The debate in Washington D.C. regarding the debt ceiling will continue, with ramifications for programs such as Medicaid.
Medicaid was designed to offer financial support to those who need long term care – if, that is, they qualify – meaning they have a certain maximum level of income and assets. There are “countable” assets, then there are “exempt” assets such as one’s home.
There is a primary budget-cutting stage in Congress that will not affect Medicaid, but the second stage, which has a deadline of December 23, 2011, may see things such as a reduction of eligibility and benefits for Medicaid.
This means that it may be more difficult for elderly to qualify for benefits. It may also result in lower payments to facilities such as nursing homes – and they’ve already been slammed with more than an 11% reduction.
Joseph Baker, the president of the advocacy group Medicare Rights Center, stated “The future of the programs really hangs in the balance. It could lead to deep cuts and irreversible changes to Medicare and Medicaid that shift costs to beneficiaries.”
With such dramatic battles in Washington, and potential changes that affect the elderly, it’s more important than ever for elders to look into an Estate Planning strategy that may help them qualify for Medicaid.
Using legal Estate Planning tools, for example, there are ethical ways to plan for Medicaid eligibility while preserving your assets.
But one has to plan ahead: it’s very risky, legally, to suddenly transfer one’s assets so as to try to qualify for Medicaid.
It’s very wise, therefore, to consult with an Estate Planning attorney who also has training in Elder Law. He or she can explain in plain language what your options are. A consultation could benefit you greatly.