A recent study by the National Health Law Project found that efforts by federal lawmakers to reduce Medicaid funding will put the lives of 74 million people at risk.
On the state level, the expansion of Medicaid programs, however, has made more resources available to help people, the study found, including the elderly, have access to the services they need for good health and the ability to live independently.
Medicaid is administered by the states, combining state and federal dollars to provide health services to low-income people, including children and their caretakers, pregnant women, the disabled, the blind, and those over the age of 65 who qualify. The coverage can vary by state, but the federal government requires it to include doctor’s visits and hospital expenses, among other services.
As of January, 31 states had expanded their Medicaid programs, the report says. Florida was not among them.
The states that did, though, initially received 200 percent federal reimbursement for the costs of these new enrollees. Over time, the federal share will drop to 90 percent. Congress is considering reducing federal funding below 90 percent.
Whatever lawmakers decide, Medicaid is often crucial in helping cover the costs of long-term care. The average cost of a nursing home or assisted-living facility in Florida can exceed $100,000 a year. Medicare only covers those costs for a limited time in most cases. It’s crucial that estate planning ensure factor in eligibility for Medicaid benefits, or else retirement assets – or your entire estate – could be consumed by long-term care costs.
Medicaid planning is a critical part of a comprehensive strategy to provide necessary care for seniors without dissipating assets that could be used for retirement or the needs of a healthy spouse, or passed on to loved ones. But qualifying for the Medicaid benefits that can cover long-term care costs is complicated, and any number of missteps could make a difficult financial situation even worse.
Since Medicaid is a needs-based program designed to provide medical care and assistance for low-income individuals, eligibility for the benefits that can pay for long-term care is based on your available assets. Medicaid planning involves structuring your assets and liabilities in such a way that they are excluded from the calculations used to determine Medicaid eligibility.
Our experienced and trusted estate planning attorneys have been serving Treasure Coast families for decades, and Michael Fowler is one of only nine attorneys in the state of Florida who is double board-certified in wills trusts and estates and in elder law. Contact us for your initial consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Fort Pierce, Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, and Okeechobee.