The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released the newest Medical Assistance eligibility update which went into effect on August 10, 2010 (MR 154). The changes in this update are profound. It now allows a nursing home Medical Assistance recipient to use her income to pay for nursing home related expenses (up to 3 months retroactive) to the extent Medical Assistance does not cover said expenses (i.e. she has resources in excess of $2,500). This is a profound change by the Department and took many years of litigation by another respected elder law attorney to finally achieve this result. Bottom line, however, is that this can be a benefit for many families that are faced with outstanding nursing home expenses with no normal Medical Assistance coverage for said expenses.
The issue is this, your mother has outstanding nursing home bills and when the application was made for Medical Assistance, she did not have enough assets to pay these invoices. Given the size of nursing home costs, the outstanding expenses could well be thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars. The nursing home is going to look for payment of these invoices and may well start the involuntary discharge process unless they are paid. This new Medical Assistance provision allows for mom’s income to be used to offset these expenses for the three months prior to eligibility. Since this is a brand new provision, it is unclear at present at how efficiently such a request will be implemented by the Department of Social Services. If you find yourself in this position, it is best to contact an elder law attorney to guide you through this process.
Update: The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will likley apply the allowance for three months prior to the application date which will overlap the current retroactive Medical Assistance eligibility period. However, there will be some instances where retroactive Medical Assistance eligilbity may not be available and where this new provision may be of profound help to many individuals.