Medicaid’s Benefits for Assisted Living Facility Residents

Assisted living facilities are a housing option for people who can still live independently but who need some assistance. Costs can range from $2,000 to more than $6,000 a month, depending on location. Medicare won’t pay for this type of care, but Medicaid might. Almost all state Medicaid programs will cover at least some assisted living costs for eligible residents. Unlike with nursing home stays, there is no requirement that Medicaid pay for assisted living, and no state Medicaid program can pay directly for a Medicaid recipient’s room and board in an assisted living facility. But with assisted living costs Continue Reading

How Do I File for a Guardianship?

No one wants to see a loved one become unable to make decisions for him or herself. If this happens, however, the court may appoint a substitute decision maker, often called a “guardian,” but in some states called a “conservator” or other term. A guardian is only appointed as a last resort if other, less restrictive, alternatives, such as a power of attorney, are not in place or are not working. In most states, anyone interested in the well-being of an individual who may be incapacitated – called the “proposed ward” — can request a guardianship for that person (also Continue Reading

Ombudsmen: Front-Line Advocates for Nursing Home Residents

Disagreements with a nursing home can arise regarding any number of topics, including the quality of food, troublesome roommates, lack of privacy, or services not meeting what was promised. Many disputes can be resolved by speaking with a nursing home staff member, supervisor, or moving up the chain of command. But if you can’t resolve things within the nursing home, your next step should be to contact the local ombudsman assigned to the nursing home. An ombudsman is an advocate for residents of nursing homes, board and care homes, and assisted living facilities who is trained to resolve problems. Under Continue Reading

How Much Money Can You Have and Still Qualify for Medicaid?

In order to be eligible for Medicaid benefits a nursing home resident may have no more than $2,000 in “countable” assets (the figure may be somewhat higher in some states). Note that Medicaid is a state-run program, so the rules are somewhat different in each state, although there are federal guidelines. The spouse of a nursing home resident–called the “community spouse” — is limited to one half of the couple’s joint assets up to $130,380 (in 2021) in “countable” assets. This figure changes each year to reflect inflation. Called the “community spouse resource allowance,” this is the most that a Continue Reading

Medicare Would Cover Dental, Vision, and Hearing Under Senate Democrats’ Spending Plan

The Senate Democrats’ proposal for a $3.5 trillion spending plan includes expanding Medicare to provide dental, vision, and hearing benefits. The proposal is now being negotiated in Congress. Currently Medicare does not offer much in the way of dental, vision, and hearing benefits. Medicare Part A will cover certain emergency or necessary procedures that are received in the hospital. For example, if you are hospitalized after an accident and require jaw reconstruction, Medicare Part A will pay for the dental work required as part of that procedure. Medicare Part B offers very limited coverage of some vision and hearing services. Continue Reading

Can an IRA Affect Medicaid Eligibility?

For many Medicaid applicants, individual retirement accounts (IRAs) are one of their biggest assets. If you do not plan properly, IRAs can count as an available asset and affect Medicaid eligibility. Medicaid applicants can have only a small amount of assets in order to be eligible to receive benefits ($2,000 in most states). Certain assets — i.e., a house, car, and burial plot — are exempt from eligibility determinations. Whether your IRA counts as an exempt asset depends on whether it is in “payout status” or not. At age 72 (or if you turned 70 ½ in 2019 or before), individuals Continue Reading

Finding the Right Hospital Bed Rental

If you are caring for a loved one at home, you may need to rent a hospital bed. Here are the ins and outs of hospital bed rentals. The benefit of a hospital bed is that it adjusts to allow people with limited mobility to more easily get in and out of the bed. The adjustable features include the raising and lowering the head and foot of the bed as well as changing the bed’s height. The beds usually have the option to add side rails to keep patients from falling out of bed. The following are the main types Continue Reading

IRS Announces That Face Masks and Related Purchases Are Tax Deductible

The IRS has announced that the tax deduction for medical expenses includes amounts spent on face masks, sanitizer and other products purchased to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. If you have significant medical expenses, you may be able to deduct them from your taxes. Many types of medical expenses are deductible, from long-term care to hospital stays to hearing aids. This year, the IRS has made clear that “medical expenses” also includes amounts paid for personal protective equipment, such as masks, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes, as long as they were used for the primary purpose of preventing the spread of COVID-19. Continue Reading

Medicaid Recipients Have a Little More Time to Spend Down Their Stimulus Money

The one-year deadline for nursing home residents on Medicaid to spend down their first round of stimulus checks is here, but they may have a little extra time. In March 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act authorized $1,200 stimulus checks to most Americans, including Medicaid recipients. Another round of $600 checks was authorized in December 2020, and $1,400 checks were ordered in February 2021. The stimulus checks are not considered income for Medicaid recipients, and the payments have been excluded from Medicaid’s strict resource limits for 12 months. While the one-year deadline for spending down the Continue Reading

Issue Brief on Medicaid Estate Recovery

NAELA, along with Justice in Aging and other advocacy organizations, has published an issue brief on the Medicaid estate recovery program. Issue Brief on Medicaid Estate Recovery NAELA, along with Justice and Aging and other advocacy organizations, has published an issue brief on the Medicaid estate recovery program. The brief calls on Congress to eliminate the Medicaid estate recovery program and focuses on how estate recovery contributes to the cycle of poverty. In particular, the brief examines how home ownership allows for generational wealth building for lower-income families. The brief was a collaboration between NAELA, Justice in Aging, California Advocates Continue Reading