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Conn. Cancels Request to Curtail Medicaid Asset Transfers

  • May 9th, 2005

Connecticut governor M. Jodi Rell has withdrawn the state's application for a federal waiver to impose more stringent asset transfer rules on Medicaid applicants.

Elder law attorneys and advocates for the elderly nationwide have been closely watching the fate of the waiver request since its submission to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2002. Connecticut was the first state to try to dramatically tighten Medicaid transfer rules. Since then, Minnesota and Massachusetts have made similar waiver requests, which are still pending.

'Although the waiver application was submitted in good faith, I continue to hear concerns from Connecticut residents about their future ability to access services at skilled nursing facilities if Medicaid eligibility processes are changed,' Gov. Rell said.

Connecticut's request for a waiver of federal Medicaid rules, submitted during the administration of former Gov. John Rowland, would have allowed the state to move the start date of the penalty period for transfers from the first day of the month of the transfer to the month in which an individual otherwise would have become eligible for Medicaid services. Under this approach, an impoverished individual already in a nursing home would be without Medicaid coverage during any applicable penalty period, which could very easily result in the nursing home trying to discharge the resident. (See "States Look at Tightening Rules for Medicaid Transfers," ElderLawAnswers, April 25, 2003.

In addition, the state had proposed to expand the look-back period for real property transfers, such as a home, from 36 to 60 months.

Any such changes in the Medicaid rules require permission from federal Medicaid authorities. In her statement, Rell alluded to the fact that CMS has held Connecticut's waiver application without approval for more than three years.

'The fact that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services did not expeditiously approve the state's 2002 request is further indication that the waiver application may be viewed as problematic,' Governor Rell wrote to Social Services Commissioner Patricia A. Wilson-Coker, in directing that the waiver application be withdrawn.

Rell also agreed with opponents of the state's application who feared that stricter rules would improperly deny critical nursing home coverage to poor elderly and people with disabilities, and that nursing homes might lose revenue.

Nevertheless, Rell did not rule out the imposition of harsher rules as part of a larger "national discussion."

'The subject of increasing the 'lookback' period and the penalty period for qualifying for Medicaid is starting to be addressed on the federal level by President Bush and Congress,' the Governor said. 'I believe it is more appropriate for Connecticut public policy to be formulated as part of the national discussion on this issue, rather than through the advocacy of an individual waiver of federal law. The public policy discussions beginning to unfold in Washington and in state capitals will guide Connecticut's future position on this complex subject.'

To read Gov. Rell's press release on the waiver request withdrawal, go to: http://www.ct.gov/governorrell/cwp/view.asp?A=1761&Q=292570

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Last Modified: 05/09/2005

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