JLP at AllThingsFinancial asks a very provocative question the other day, "Is it morally right for elders to spend down assets in order to qualify for Medicaid for nursing home care?" The post has a link to a MarketWatch article about the new Medicaid rules that are set to go into effect on February 1, that will make it harder for elderly people to qualify for Medicaid to cover the costs of long-term care in a nursing home.
JLP has an opinion on why these new rules (part of the "Deficit Reduction Act") are being enacted: "too many people with the help of their lawyers made themselves poor in order to qualify for Medicaid."
You may have an entirely different opinion. The editor of an Elder Care Law Planning newsletter is quoted in the MarketWatch article as saying, "It's an ill-conceived law that's an attack on seniors," and another expert suggests that "It could be a horror show[.]"
My suggestion is that if you, or your parents or in-laws or anyone you care about, might be facing the prospect of paying for nursing home care, carefully read the MarketWatch article (free, registration required.) This is especially important if the need for care is imminent, since, if this law is enacted, many of the restrictions against transferring assets will become effective February 1, of this year.
JLP's post generated several comments, and it is a thought-provoking question. I have friends who have struggled mightily with how to pay for the care of their parents, and for themselves. These are good, honest and hardworking people, and they aren't looking to game the system. Obviously there aren't any easy answers to questions like "how do we pay for health care." Do you have any experience with trying to pay for long-term care? What are your thoughts?