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Michigan ELA Attorneys Weigh in on Medicaid Estate Recovery

  • March 16th, 2004

Two Michigan members of ElderLawAnswers' network of qualified elder law attorneys are highlighted in articles discussing Medicaid coverage of nursing home care in the state, including the possible implementation of Medicaid estate recovery in the state.

As things stand now, Michigan is one of two states that do not recover Medicaid payments for the cost of nursing home care after both the Medicaid recipient and his or her spouse die. Federal law requires such "estate recovery," but Michigan lawmakers have so far resisted, fearing a political backlash.

However, Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm and lawmakers are considering finally implementing the federal law. Medicaid nursing home costs in the state have shot up 35 percent in the past four years, to $1.1 billion.

The Detroit Free Press article " Nursing home care could cost estates" presents the pros and cons of such a change. Those opposed to an estate recovery program point out that such programs typically bring in less than 1 percent of the money spent on nursing home care and mostly affect those with small estates '“ usually just a modest home.

ElderLawAnswers member Doug Chalgian, an East Lansing attorney who chairs the State Bar of Michigan's section on elder law, told the Free Press that recouping the cost of nursing home care from estates is a regressive approach to a difficult issue.

"Long-term care is crushing every state. Nickel-and-dime solutions are not the answer. Even if the state could suck in $17 million, what difference is that going to make?" Chalgian asked.

Chalgian said the problem is that the U.S. health care system does not adequately address the long-term care needs of the elderly. If an individual has an acute illness like heart disease, Medicare will cover his or her care, no questions asked. But if a patient has Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease, the rules suddenly change.

In a companion article, "MEDICAID RULES: Seniors don't have to be poor," ElderLawAnswers member Jim Schuster, a Southfield attorney who specializes in elder law, warns against giving money away years in advance in order to qualify for Medicaid. Noting that most people want to avoid nursing home care, Schuster says he advises clients to save enough to pay for quality care that allows them to stay in their own homes as long as possible.

To visit Attorney Chalgian's home page, click here.

To visit Attorney Schuster's home page, click here.

For more on estate recovery, click here.

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Last Modified: 03/16/2004

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