Since the attorneys of Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates, PC assist clients with estate planning and elder law needs, including Medicaid, the debate centering around the proposal to give states block grants is very important to us and to our clients.
Medicaid, the nation’s largest health insurer, is a program that covers health benefits for more than 73 million low-income Americans. The money is jointly funded by federal and state tax dollars. Each state determines how it runs its own Medicaid program as long as the state’s rules are not more restrictive than federal Medicaid rules. For example, states decide:
- what services will be covered
- the way health care providers are paid for those services
- whether a managed care system will be used
- who qualifies for Medicaid
The term “block grant” refers to a fixed amount of money that the federal government would give each state based on its (the federal government’s) estimate of Medicaid costs. In other words, the federal government would set each state’s Medicaid spending amount in advance. If, for example, Indiana’s costs exceeded the amount of the block grant, our state would need to use its own funds to make up the difference – OR cut services for low-income residents.
The prospect of funding cuts is of grave concern to us as elder law attorneys, for two crucially important reasons:
- the Medicaid program provides medical assistance to low-income individuals, including those who are 65 or older, disabled or blind.
- Medicaid is the single largest payer of nursing home bills in America, and serves as the option of last resort for people who have no other way to finance their long term care
The most common Medicaid concern is whether an individual must spend down all of his or her assets in order to qualify for Medicaid. People have grave fears of losing their homes and their life savings paying for the costs of long-term care. Medicaid planning, the process of obtaining Medicaid eligibility while preserving assets within the bounds of the law is an important part of the services we offer to Geyer Law clients.
Hopefully, the amount of money Indiana will have to invest in healthcare services will not be reduced due to block grants.