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Medicaid eligibility creates issue for seniors

BY ANDREA MOORE amoore@paducahsun.com

Baby boomers are now facing their golden years and, according to some attorneys, many are worried about how their estates will affect their Medicaid eligibility and long-term care.

Joe Harvey Kimmel, a Paducah attorney, has seen a significant increase in the need for elder law services, specifically relating to Medicaid and Veterans Affairs long-term care planning.  

"It can be devastating when someone needing treatment at a long-term care facility is disqualified from receiving Medicaid," Kimmel said.

According to Kimmel, Medicaid will look back five years at any transfers of money or property before determining whether it will pay for an applicant's long-term care.

"Medicaid will look back at transfers of property made for less than fair market value or gifts of money within a five-year period and, if they find any, it may disqualify someone from getting their long-term care paid by Medicaid at that time," Kimmel said.  

Kimmel added that if an adult child is living with and caring for a parent for two years, Medicaid will allow the parent's home to be gifted to that child without penalty.

Mitchell Ryan, a Murray attorney, has also seen an increase in clients concerned about Medicaid eligibility and care planning come through his doors. 

Ryan said that each person has different needs and there are many ways to go about helping someone plan for end-of-life care.  

According to Gwenda Bond, assistant communications director for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, certain variables come into play regarding the five-year, look-back period. 

"Penalties can apply to individuals who transfer resources for less than fair market value to gain eligibility," Bond said.

"Penalties include restricting medical assistance coverage, resulting in ineligibility," he continued.

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