New Restrictions on New York Medicaid Home Care Benefits Have Been Postponed

Long Island Elder Law and Estate Planning Lawyers

The Medicaid home care rules will soon change putting seniors who want to stay in their home in a difficult situation.
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For many years, New York didn’t have a look back period for Medicaid home care benefits. That meant a person could give away all his or her assets and be eligible for Medicaid community-based long-term care the very next month

That is now changing with new rules signed into law in New York limiting eligibility for new applicants. For transfers made on or after October 1, 2020, there is a new 30-month “look back” period for Medicaid home care benefits. People who transferred assets during this new look back period will, subject to limited exceptions, face a period of ineligibility in which Medicaid home care benefits will not be available to them.

The good news, however, is that the implementation of these harsh new rules has been delayed due to COVID-19.  Although there has not been an official announcement from the New York State Department  of Health, it appears that only applications filed after July 1, 2021, will be subject to the new look back period and penalty period when applying for Medicaid home care benefits.

As a result of the delay in the implementation of the new law, there appears to be a short window of opportunity between now and June 30, 2021, where planning can be done and applicants can apply for Medicaid home care benefits without the new look back or penalty period rules delaying eligibility for up to 30-months.

This short window of opportunity benefits people who need home care benefits now. If a person applies before the end of June, 2021 there should not be any penalties or delays because the new rules aren’t being enforced by the local Medicaid offices yet. For those applicants, the old rules should apply, such that if asset transfers are made immediately (such transfers into an Irrevocable Trust), they won’t cause a waiting period. It is likely that if the federal government extends the COVID-19 public health emergency again, the implementation date may be further delayed but there are no assurances in that regard.

While clarification from the New York State Department of Health is necessary on some of the details involved with application of the new 30-month look back rule and the other new requirements, it is clear these changes will be devastating to many seniors. Without planning, instead of getting needed care at home, many seniors will be ineligible to receive benefits and will need to privately pay during a penalty period, thus being forced to spend down life savings before Medicaid is available.

The attorneys at Kurre Schneps LLP are skilled in Medicaid planning and should be consulted to navigate these new rules and the Medicaid home care application process.

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