They buttonholed the attorney as he was eating lunch. “Mom just went into a nursing home. We’re worried about the bills. Can the State pay for this? How do we make sure Dad doesn’t spend everything on the nursing home?”
The attorney explains, “Medicaid is the welfare program that pays for long-term nursing home care. To get Medicaid, Mom must be ‘medically needy.’ She has to need skilled nursing care, the care usually delivered only in a nursing home, and not just custodial care such as reminders to take medications or help transferring out of bed.
“Her income has to be less than the cost of care, which is usually not an issue – the average monthly cost of nursing home care in Maryland is currently just under $10,000.
“Finally, family resources must be under the Medicaid threshold. First, assets are divided between ‘exempt’ and ‘countable.’ Exempt assets include their home and contents, automobile, prepaid funeral and burial, and a few other items. These can be retained by your father.
“Then countable assets must be spent down on ‘qualified spend-down’ expenses, including repairs to the home, purchase of a new automobile if theirs is old or unsuitable, Mom’s nursing home care costs, and Dad’s ordinary cost of living.
“Dad has to spend half of the countable asset, but he can’t keep more than about $137,000 and can’t be forced to spend below about $27,000.”
The kids nod. “What about giving us the money? Can they just give it away so Mom qualifies?”
The attorney shakes his head. “Gifts can disqualify Mom from Medicaid. See my Medicaid articles for more info, or call to make an appointment. See you soon!”
Attorney Tim Barkley
The Tim Barkley Law Offices
One Park Avenue
P.O. Box 1136
Wills & Trusts | Estate Planning | Probates & Estates
Elder Law | Real Estate | Business Planning