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Senate Committee Approves Bill With No Medicaid Transfer Changes

  • October 26th, 2005

On a party-line vote, the Senate Finance Committee has approved a fiscal year 2006 budget reconciliation package that does not include proposed drastic changes in Medicaid asset transfer rules. But a similar bill being considered by the House Energy and Commerce Committee includes those changes and more.

The transfer-of-asset proposals, which many elder law attorneys view as harmful to their clients, were among the recommendations of the Medicaid Commission, established to advise Congress on how to cut $10 billion from Medicaid, as called for in the 2006 budget reconciliation bill approved earlier this year.

The commission proposed a severe tightening of penalties for the elderly who transfer assets and then apply for Medicaid coverage of nursing home care. The proposed rules would extend the "lookback" period for all 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 of Medicaid application.

At last report, these proposals were still in the House committee's Medicaid bill, which is being finalized. Also under the House bill, seniors who have equity in their homes of $500,000 or more would be ineligible for Medicaid. The House Republican leadership has pledged to cut $15 million more from mandatory programs than the budget agreement specified. The budget resolution agreement also requires $70 billion in tax cuts.

The President of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Lawrence E. Davidow, is calling on elder law attorneys and their clients to urge Congress not to change nursing home transfer-of-asset rules. For details, click here.

The Finance Committee's bill won the backing of all 11 Republican members and was opposed by the nine Democratic members. The bill, which is expected to quickly move to a full Senate vote, does attempt to close a number of "loopholes" in Medicaid transfer rules, changes that taken together would save Medicaid an estimated $335 million over five years. The changes include how life estates and annuities may be treated by Medicaid authorities.

To read the Finance Committee Chairman's Mark of the bill, go to: http://finance.senate.gov/sitepages/legislation.htm

For an article on the stark differences between the House and Senate approaches to the budget legislation, go to http://www.kaisernetwork.org/daily_reports/rep_index.cfm?hint=3&DR_ID=33300

Local Elder Law Attorneys in Ashburn, VA

Daniel Steven

Daniel N. Steven, LLC
Rockville, MD

Ron Landsman

Ron M. Landsman, P.A.
Rockville, MD

Judith Mitnick

Needham Mitnick & Pollack, PLC
Falls Church, VA

Last Modified: 10/26/2005

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