Archive for March, 2012
March 30th, 2012
We are extremely pleased to report that on March 27, 2012, Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature agreed upon the New York State Health Budget Bill for 2012-2013, which repeals the recent expanded definition of a Medicaid recipient’s “estate” and rejects the elimination of spousal refusal. This is great news for elderly and disabled citizens of New York, and a true victory for those relying on Medicaid benefits for long-term care.
As many of you know, Medicaid has the right to seek reimbursement of its costs from the estate of a Medicaid recipient. The Governor’s proposed Budget Bill and subsequent emergency regulations expanded the definition of the term estate to allow Medicaid to recover from assets outside of a decedent’s probate estate. Had it not been repealed, this expanded definition would have included life estates, jointly held real or personal property, interests in trusts and retirement accounts such as IRA’s. The proposed definition was in conflict with long established legal principles governing trusts, estates and real property. Under the revised and final Bill, the definition of estate will be reinstated to include only assets in a decedent’s probate estate.
Additionally, the proposed Budget Bill included a provision that “spousal refusal” would be eliminated for married Medicaid recipients. Effectively, this change would have forced community spouses to impoverish themselves by paying for the long-term care of their ill spouses. Spousal refusal allows the spouse of a Medicaid applicant to sign a written statement refusing to make his or her own assets count as a resource of the spouse applying for Medicaid. If a spousal refusal is signed, Medicaid must provide benefits to an applicant who is eligible, but retains the right to pursue a contribution from the community spouse later on. Spousal refusal is an extremely important tool for married seniors, as it allows for healthy spouses to maintain themselves in their homes and communities, and plan for their own long-term care needs. Fortunately, married couples continue to have the right to exercise spousal refusal.
If you would like to learn more about how the new Budget Bill will affect you and your family, please call us today.
March 15th, 2012
Lamson & Cutner’s latest Special Report is currently at the printer, and will be available soon. The motivation for writing this report, according to David Cutner, was that “we felt there was a huge gap in the available literature about Elder Law techniques and strategies. There was nothing that could give someone a quick, but comprehensive, view of how to go about solving their legal and financial issues concerning their health care, particularly if they’re faced with the ruinous costs of long-term care.”
The Elder Law Crash Course answers the call by giving readers a 15-minute education in the master strategies to qualify for Medicaid and protect your money and property at the same time. The Crash Course isn’t legal advice, but it will certainly alert you to your rights and options, and help you make the most of a consultation with an Elder Law attorney.
If you would like to have a FREE advance copy of The Elder Law Crash Course, please contact our office by sending an email with your name and address to [email protected], or calling us at 1 (855) 898-1919.
Also, you can get up-to-date information on current Elder Law issues by signing up for a FREE subscription to THE ELDER LAW EXCHANGE newsletter at www.theelderlawexchange.com.
March 12th, 2012
On March 9, 2012, The Wall Street Journal published a front-page story about the complexity of the Medicare and Medicaid laws, and how even judges are having difficulty in understanding them. The U.S. Supreme Court once characterized the Medicaid statute as “an aggravated assault on the English language.”
James Madison warned long ago in the Federalist Papers about laws “so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.” His caution remains a timely one.
Judges from all over the country have written about the practically impossible complexity of the Medicare and Medicaid laws, often in a caustic or humorous fashion. These laws were initially enacted in 1965, and, after several amendments since then, now run hundreds of pages.
If you are having as much difficulty as these judges in understanding your rights under Medicare or Medicaid, you may want to call an Elder Law attorney at Lamson & Cutner. We work with these laws every day, and, while there are times when certain provisions seem beyond anyone’s understanding, in most situations we’ll be able to help you.