The Truth About Medicaid “Estate Recovery” Concerns

The New York Medicaid system is the primary source of funding for many seniors in need of long-term care at nursing homes. Medicare does not cover these extensive stays, and the out-of-pocket costs are tremendous. As a result, many seniors enroll in the program to pay for their care.

Payments for long-term care make up a sizeable part of the entire Medicaid budget. As a result, policymakers are often looking at ways of cutting expenses or funnelling more money into the program to pay for those in need. One way that Medicaid law has accounted for ths is via a Medicaid estate recovery program. The basic idea is that the state can re-coup portions of the funds spent on an individual under Medicaid after that person’s passing. This takes the form of the state receiving a portion of the decedent’s assets.

The laws regarding Medicaid estate recovery are quite complex, with exceptions depending on surviving spouses, dependent children and similar details. But, under current rules,recovery may be made on “assets passing under the terms of a valid will or by intestacy, and any other real and personal property and other assets in which the decedent had any legal title or interest at the time of death…”

Data published about nine years ago from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services noted that the actual amount of money recovered under this program at the time was minimal. New York, for example, only recouped about .5% of the total funds spent on nursing home care via Medicaid.

This issue has made headlines in recent months as some claim that there may be increased use of estate recovery as a result of Obamacare. Predictably, certain groups opposed to the new healthcare law are using Medicaid estate recovery as a way to raise opposition. As a Huffington Post story on the matter explained this week, however, opponents often gloss over the idea that Medicaid estate recovery has long been in existence and was typically an idea promoted by conservative organization. With confusion over the issue rising, federal officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid expect to issue further guidance on the program.

Get Legal Help
The potential effect of this estate recovery option is just one of many reasons why you should never try to navigate the system alone. New York Medicaid attorneys are here to provide tailored advice walking you through the process of both applying for Medicaid and protecting assets as much as possible down the road.

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