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Without a doubt, the DRA drastically and dramatically increases the complexity and unfairness of the Medicaid eligibility rules.  Indeed, many are just beginning to wake up to the problems DRA poses for nursing homes, hospitals, financial service firms, estate planners, charities, and others.

Life Care Planning, Estate Protection, Disability,
VA & Medicaid Assistance Lawyers

The Only Certainties Are Death, Taxes, and Change

The Only Certainties Are

Death, Taxes, and Change

 

            Medicaid is a 40-year-old program that provides medical benefits to the elderly, poor, and disabled.  It has a major impact on health care delivery and financing in southern Illinois, indeed in all of Illinois and the rest of the country.  For example, Medicaid pays for approximately 48% of all nursing home care in the United States.  With nursing home costs in southern Illinois now running $36,000 to $54,000 per year or more, most families must eventually rely on Medicaid to help finance some of their long-term care needs.

 

            In response to the political promise to cut taxes and at the same time slash billions  from the federal budget, Congress savaged the Medicaid budget by cutting $10 billion that would otherwise be available to help the most vulnerable elderly and disabled. The new budget became effective February 8, 2006, when President Bush signed the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (the DRA).

 

            One of the challenges that lawmakers always face is the "unintended consequences" of the laws they pass.  Frequently lawmakers pass sweeping legislation designed to address some issue.  The problem is that from time to time, the laws cause problems in areas they were not meant to address.

 

            Without a doubt, the DRA drastically and dramatically increases the complexity and unfairness of the Medicaid eligibility rules.  Indeed, many are just beginning to wake up to the problems DRA poses for nursing homes, hospitals, financial service firms, estate planners, charities, and others.

 

            In prior issues of the Southern Business Journal, I have addressed the impact DRA will have on nursing homes and hospitals.  Many other organizations also will be affected.  For example, the Director of Planned Giving at a major charity in the St. Louis area recently contacted me by e-mail expressing alarm about DRA and its "chilling effect" on the charity's marketing of gift annuities.

 

            He is right to be alarmed, as should others.

 

            To help businesses and organizations begin to assess the impact this new law may have on them and their clients, customers, patients, patrons, residents, etc., the  accompanying chart sets out the major changes DRA made to some of the Medicaid-related laws.  Warning, the chart is not designed to be comprehensive or to be a substitute for advice from a knowledgeable professional.

 

            Richard Habiger is an elder law attorney.  You may contact him at 618-549-4529 or Richard@HabigerElderLaw.com.