What the Law Says About Protecting Assets from Medicaid
Most people understand the Medicaid program, at least in theory. They know it exists to help lower-income individuals with medical costs. Those costs might include hospital stays, doctor visits, medication, and more.
Medicaid is a government-subsidized program at both the state and federal levels. In other words, there’s state-run Medicaid that works together with the overarching federal program. Together, you can use them if you don’t make much money, but you need medical assistance for regular checkups, chronic conditions, or emergency care.
What you may not realize is that Medicaid can go after your assets, even if you live below the federally-recognized poverty line. We’ll talk about this notion’s legality or illegality in the following article.
What Are Assets?Before we get into this concept, you should know about the term “assets” in this context. Assets might include your vehicle, house, or money you have in the bank. You might consider anything else valuable as an asset, and in this context, you’re right about that. That’s why protecting assets from Medicaid becomes so crucial.
A baseball card collection could be an asset. Maybe you own some undeveloped land that a relative left to you. Those are all assets that are potentially worth money. Any of them could qualify in the context we’re describing.
The Consumer Directed Personal Assistance ProgramYou should next know about something called the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program. New York state government set up this program some years ago. It does not exist elsewhere, so you can only use it if you’re a New York state resident.
It’s a Medicaid offshoot, one that branched off from the main Medicaid program. It allows consumers who sign up for and use Medicaid to recruit, direct, or hire their own home care workers. You can potentially hire a friend or family member to care for you instead of hiring someone outside the household or your friend circle if you have a medical condition and need help for it.
Why Does This Program Matter?The reason why the program matters is that ostensibly, politicians set up Medicaid to help those in need, with no strings attached. However, some politicians feel very strongly that welfare programs should not exist.
They will do all they can to recoup the money these programs spend. If you have any assets, even if you demonstrate conclusively that you need financial aid to care for your medical and living expenses, these politicians have measures in place to try and get back some of that money from you.
One way they will attempt to do that is by assigning you paid medical professionals to care for you, even if you feel you have individuals in your life who can handle helping you with day-to-day functions. In other words, certain individuals both in and outside of the Medicaid program will try to come after your financial assets. They will make you pay for any medical professionals who they assign to care for you.
What Can You Do to Stop This?You might need Medicaid because you can’t work for one reason or another. Maybe you have a serious, diagnosed mental health condition, such as PTSD or bipolar depression. You need Medicaid to help you, but you are also not entirely destitute. You have certain limited assets, and you never know whether the state or federal government will come after those.
That is why the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program exists. Essentially, it is a way for you to protect what assets you have so the government cannot seize them to try and recoup the money they give you for basic healthcare needs.
You can meet with individuals representing this program in New York state. They can look at your assets and instruct you so that you can protect them from this possibility.
For instance, they can tell you to put your assets in a trust. If you set that up right now, the state or federal government cannot touch the money. You can transfer your funds to a spouse, or a domestic partner, in some cases. You can create a Medicaid-compliant annuity or promissory note.
Why Is All of This Necessary?To get into a little more detail about all of this, we have privatized healthcare in America. That is not likely no change anytime soon because lobbyists work hard to keep things that way. If everyone received healthcare from the federal government, private healthcare companies couldn’t make any money.
Programs like Medicaid exist for people with very few resources, but you have to be very nearly destitute before most states want you to apply for it. If they look at your finances and see that you have any assets at all, they’d like to either deny your Medicaid claim, or else they’ll want you to pay back those benefits by seizing and liquidating your assets, even if you’re not wealthy by nearly anyone’s standards.
That’s why a program like the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program exists. They provide advice on how you can protect what assets you have. For instance, if you and a partner lived in New York state in 2020, you would need to have assets totaling $23,100 or less.
Only then could you get on Medicaid. Or, if the program approved you, they could legally go after your assets and liquidate or garnish them.
That’s distressing if you have few assets and no healthcare coverage. You should know, though, that the CDPAP is also legal and exists to help you. Their representatives can instruct you on how to manage your assets to give you the best possible chance to save some or all of them while using the Medicaid program.
If you have very few assets and live in New York state, you should know about both Medicaid and the CDPAP. They are a couple of the most useful programs you can utilize as a New York state resident trying to keep your head above water.
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