In 5 Weeks, Married Couples Home Care Medicaid Changes Take Effect

January 27, 2009

mediaid-planningThe New York Times reported some major changes in Medicaid laws, which are very relevant to those who are getting closer to a time when they or their spouse may be looking at going into a nursing home.

Our law office helps clients prepare for future Medicaid applications and also helps clients actually apply to Medicaid so I’ve seen how these issues play out. First, as a general background, nursing homes can charge anywhere between $9,000-$12,000 per month for residents. Senior citizens who have to go into nursing homes will have to spend down their entire life savings in order to pay their nursing home bills. Once a person has spent down virtually all of their life savings, then they can qualify for Medicaid and Medicaid will pay for future nursing home bills.

Until now, if both spouses in a couple are alive, Medicaid had a higher amount of income that the healthy spouse could keep, and Medicaid would pay for the nursing home equivalent of home care so that both spouses could continue to live together. New York State was allowing the same income limits that apply to nursing home residents apply to those receiving home health care through Medicaid. That is $2,739 a month in combined income and $109,560 in assets not including a home or car.

The Federal government says that these income and asset exemptions only apply to nursing home residents now and not home health care recipients. Thus, couples must now choose between continuing to live together and keeping less of their income and assets or separating and having one living in a nursing home so that they can keep the higher exemption for income and assets.

If you are seeking home care and you’re still married, Governor Paterson has extended the effective date of this change as it applies to New York residents until March 1st. So call us right away to discuss how these changes may affect you.

Picture courtesy of the New York Times


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