Can My Parents Sell Their Home and Pay for Upgrades to Our Home Without Triggering Medicaid's Transfer Rules?
Both my elderly parents need extra help. We are going to sell their house and move them onto my property. We will need to bui...Read more
By a vote of 216-214, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed budget legislation that will impose punitive new restrictions on the ability of the elderly to transfer assets before qualifying for Medicaid coverage of nursing home care. The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 now goes to President Bush for his promised signature.
Several Republican moderates who had supported the bill when it was voted on in December changed their votes after learning details of the legislation and under intense pressure from groups like AARP, but in the end the vote switches were not enough to defeat a bill that the Congressional Budget Office says will reduce or bar benefits for millions of Medicaid recipients. The measure is estimated to save $39 billion over five years.
Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) cast the deciding vote, breaking a 214-214 tie. All House Democrats and 13 Republicans voted against the bill. Republicans who voted yes in December but no in the final vote included Reps. Jim Gerlach (PA), Jim Ramstad (MN), Rob Simmons (CT) and John Sweeney (NY). (Click here to see the full vote.)
Democrats attacked the measure as an assault on Medicaid patients and other vulnerable groups, and said it was a prime example of the powerful influence of lobbyists for corporate interests like drug manufacturers and health insurers, who got much of what they wanted in closed-door negotiations with Republican lawmakers.
"This is a product of special interest lobbying and the stench of special interests hangs over the chamber," said Rep. John Dingell (D-MI).
The Impact on the Elderly
The legislation will extend Medicaid's "lookback" period for all asset transfers from three to five years and change the start of the penalty period for transferred assets from the date of transfer to the date when the individual transferring the assets enters a nursing home and would otherwise be eligible for Medicaid coverage. In other words, the penalty period does not begin until the nursing home resident is out of funds, meaning she cannot afford to pay the nursing home.
Because the change in the penalty period start date will likely leave nursing homes on the hook for the care of residents waiting out extended penalty periods, ElderLawAnswers has dubbed the bill 'The Nursing Home Bankruptcy Act of 2005.' Nursing homes will likely be flooded with residents who need care but have no way to pay for it. In states that have so-called "filial responsibility laws," the nursing homes may seek reimbursement from the residents' children.
The bill also will make any individual with home equity above $500,000 ineligible for Medicaid nursing home care, although states may raise this threshold as high as $750,000.
The legislation also:
While the federal law applies to all transfers made on or after the date of enactment (which looks like it will be February 8, when President Bush is scheduled to sign the law), it also gives the states time to come into compliance. This gives many people in most states a little time to plan. The deadline for states to enact their own laws varies from state to state, but generally is the first day of the first calendar quarter beginning after the end of the next full legislative session.
The bottom line is if you have been hesitating about seeing an attorney about long-term care planning, hesitate no longer. If you have considered protecting some assets for your loved ones in case you later require long-term care, you should contact a qualified elder law attorney now.
For the full text of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 in PDF format, click on: http://www.rules.house.gov/109/text/s1932cr/109s1932_text.pdf The section on the transfer provisions begins on page 222.
For the full text in HTML, go to http://thomas.loc.gov/ and type "S 1932" in the Search Bill Text box. Then click on the fourth version of the bill (S. 1932 EAS).
For an Associated Press article on the vote, click here.