Archives by: Jim Koewler

Jim Koewler

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About the author

Jim Koewler (last name rhymes with sailor) is an attorney who works with Miller Trust Services Company, LLC, which helps longterm care providers (such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities) and their residents meet their obligations with the Miller Trust rules. For additional information contact Jim at [email protected]

Jim Koewler Posts

New Rules – Medicaid, Your House and Big Change

Financial Planning Insurance January/February 2017

Ohio has made a significant change regarding homeowners who apply for Medicaid benefits for nursing home or assisted living care.

Until July 31, 2016, an unmarried homeowner who wanted Medicaid to pay for long-term care costs had 13 months to put his home up for sale. If the Medicaid applicant was married and the spouse still lived in the home, there was no obligation to sell.

That 13-month time period is gone. As part of the Aug. 1, 2016 change in rules, Ohio Medicaid rescinded the 13-month rule. Now, the unmarried applicant must decide to keep the house or to sell before applying for Medicaid.

THE RULES

If the person decides not to sell, he can choose to invoke Medicaid’s “intent to return home” condition. That means he is not required to sell the house before getting Medicaid coverage. The intent must be expressed in a written, signed statement. This exemption ends if he later establishes a “principal place of residence” elsewhere.

This new “principal place of residence” condition can jeopardize Medicaid coverage.

If someone has been in a nursing home or assisted living community for many months (not for rehabilitation purposes) it’s unlikely his home can still be called his principal place of residence.

If the person’s health isn’t likely to improve, the principal place of residence has probably become the nursing home or assisted liv- ing community. Even if the intent to return home is real, it may not be realistic. As a result, Ohio Medicaid may stop paying expenses for someone whose intent to return home is not realistic.

For now, it’s uncertain if Medicaid will challenge an applicant’s written statement of intent to return home. Upon renewal of Medicaid benefits, however, if he remains in the nursing home or assisted living community, Medicaid officials may rule the person’s house is no longer his “principal place of residence” because, by the time of the first renewal, he will have lived out of the house for at least a year.

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Medicaid Changes – “Too Much Income” to Qualify? What Does That Mean?

Financial Planning Insurance Legal November/December 2016

On Aug. 1, 2016, the Ohio Department of Medicaid drastically changed eligibility rules for Medicaid benefits for people who are disabled and others who need long-term care.

My column in the September/ October 2016 issue of this magazine highlighted three significant changes in these new rules: How Medicaid deals with the applicant’s home, how Medicaid treats retirement funds that belong to an applicant’s spouse, and the applicability of a rule (new in Ohio) that bars Medicaid coverage for people who have too much income.

SO, WHAT DOES “TOO MUCH INCOME” MEAN?

As I wrote in the last issue, “too much income” sounds weird. But because Medicaid provides money for medical coverage for the poor, having “too much income” can make someone ineligible for help.

Those whose gross income is higher than $2,199 per month are ineligible for Medicaid coverage for long-term care. (That amount is adjusted from time to time to compensate for inflation.) That $2,199 is not enough to pay for long-term care for most people; it would cover a few hours of home care each week.

Because the amount of income that blocks eligibility is not enough to keep up with the costs of long-term care, a method has been created to make it so that only part of a Medicaid recipient’s income actually counts as income. As an aside, don’t look for logic here. This stuff is crazy. It’s what satisfies the rules, though. The only explanation I can offer for this “too much income” thing is that these are the rules.

To make some income not count as income for Medicaid purposes, recipients can run some of their income each month through a Qualified Income Trust, commonly referred to as a Miller Trust.

“Qualified Income” is not counted as income for Medicaid eligibility purposes, and the monthly money that goes through the Qualified Income Trust is “Qualified Income.” The result is someone can become (or remain) eligible for Medicaid help with long-term care costs by using a Miller Trust.

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Medicaid Changes – Prepare and Plan for New Rules

Insurance September/October 2016

On Aug. 1, 2016, the Ohio Department of Medicaid drastically changed eligibility rules for Medicaid serving people who are disabled and people who need long-term care.

These changes will affect people at the time they need/want Medicaid coverage and make it even more important for people to think ahead about the time that they will need long-term care.

TOO MUCH INCOME

Those are weird words to write: too much income. However, in the weird world of Medicaid for long-term care, they are real. Anyone with gross income above the Special Income Level (currently, $2,199.00 per month) triggers a new requirement in Ohio’s Medicaid rules on how the so-called “excess income” must be handled each month.

Income above $2,199 must be transferred from the person’s account(s) into a separate account in the name of a Qualified Income Trust (also known as a QIT or Miller Trust).

Money in a Miller Trust must be paid out each month as part of the person’s share in his long-term care costs. The amount of money that the person spends and the amount that the person keeps are the same under the new rules as they were under the old rules.

KEEPING OR SELLING THE HOUSE

Under Ohio Medicaid’s old rules, a single person applying for Medicaid for nursing home or assisted living costs had 13 months after the beginning of eligibility during which to decide whether he couldreturn home. If unable to return home, then the Medicaid recipient had to put his house up for sale by the end of month 13. While the house was for sale, Medicaid eligibility would continue.

Under the new rules, a single person cannot automatically wait for 13 months. The person must either make a written declaration that he intends to return home, or the house must be sold.

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