Friday, March 25, 2011

Florida's Proposed Medicaid Overhaul Jeopardizes Seniors

Florida's proposed Medicaid overhaul puts spousal refusal on the chopping block. And that spells trouble for Florida seniors, who will find it tougher to get Medicaid benefits if they ever need longterm nursing care. The 2010 survey of nursing home costs by the Metlife Mature Market Institute shows that in South Florida, the average cost of a private room at a nursing home $302 per day. Those kinds of numbers will wipe out the average family in short order.
The proposed new law, Florida SB 1356, would deem any interspousal transfer made after July 1, 2011 in excess of $109,560 to be a gift for Medicaid eligibility purposes. Thus, if a spouse needs to enter a longterm care facility and wants to apply for Medicaid benefits, the well spouse can be left with no more than $109,560 in assets. That is not much for a well spouse to live on. After a lifetime of hard work and saving, that's a sad way for someone to end their days.
Given this dire outlook, those who do not have the considerable resources to pay privately for longterm care, and those who do not have adequate longterm care insurance, are well advised to act now. Our Florida elder law attorneys can assist you to put proactive plans in place that may enable you to preserve a significant portion of your assets.
Historically, our law firm has been able to help families preserve assets even if a loved one is already in a nursing home, or about to enter one. We will probably be able to continue to do so, but the new law is going to make it far more problematic. In any event, it is always preferable to plan in advance, as a greater percentage of assets can likely be preserved.
One advance planning method is the Florida Irrevocable Medicaid Trust. This is a flexible legal instrument that can save your family significant funds in the long term. It is also a complex one, and should be planned and drafted only under the guidance of a lawyer who is experienced with these matters and certified by the Florida Bar in elder law. 
To hear more about your options for Medicaid planning and preserving assets in today's economic climate, listen to my recent interview on the "Seniors Taking An Active Role in Society" radio program. For asssistance in putting a plan in place to protect your assets from being wiped out by nursing home costs, contact our Florida Elder Lawyers.

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