Medicaid Applications - 1/22/08
INTRO: A Don't worry, we're here to help.@ When the IRS agent says that, start to worry. But when a nursing home says that it'll help with your Medicaid Application, it's time to panic.
1. LOTS OF NURSING HOMES OFFER TO HELP WITH THE MEDICAID APPLICATIONS. AT A STRESSFUL TIME, THAT'S A TEMPTING OFFER
A. Yes. And in most cases, they are truly trying to be helpful to the family. But even in those cases, you may end up paying the nursing home with private funds much more than necessary.
2. WHAT'S THE PROBLEM WITH LETTING A NURSING HOME HELP WITH YOUR MEDICAID APPLICATION?
A. First is that the Medicaid rules are complicated. Most of the people who handle Medicaid Applications at nursing homes are not lawyers and do not have a good understanding of the law. They go to a one day seminar and think they understand how Medicaid works. A good lawyer has spent years learning the Medicaid rules, and there are still areas that are hard to understand.
3. DOES THE NURSING HOME REALLY WORK FOR YOU?
A. That's the biggest problem. Nursing homes are businesses. They are owned to maximize revenues. And they get paid more from private pay than Medicaid. So it's not in the nursing home's interest to get you Medicaid.
Let me give you one recent example.
We ran into a nursing home that was improperly forcing families to pay a two month security deposit before letting them in. That practice could cost families a lot of money, even more than two months, by creating an unnecessary Medicaid penalty. Of course, if the nursing home is doing the Medicaid Application, they're not going to contest the security deposit requirement.
4. CAN'T A FAMILY JUST DO THEIR OWN MEDICAID APPLICATION?
A. I don't recommend it. The Medicaid law is so complicated, and if you don't fully understand the law, you could spend many thousands of dollars unnecessarily.
The law requires you to submit lots of paperwork. This includes federal and state tax returns for 5 years, bank and brokerage statements for 1 to 5 years, cancelled checks, even statements for closed accounts.
And keep in mind one mistake could cost you a lot by increasing the ineligibility period unnecessarily.
5. SO WHERE CAN WE GET HELP?
A. I recommend you get a lawyer to help, a lawyer that will stand up for you, not the nursing home. One that does Medicaid Applications on a regular basis. We've done hundreds, maybe thousands, and they're just not easy to do.
CLOSE: If the nursing home offers to do your Medicaid Application, Ajust say no.@ Otherwise, you might spend thousands of dollars unnecessarily.