Aug 24

Medicaid-Eligible Nursing Home Resident Is Stuck With Costs of Private-Pay Room

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An Illinois appeals court rules that Medicaid does not cover a Medicaid-eligible nursing home resident who was in a private-pay room and that the nursing home was not required to move her to a Medicaid-certified bed earlier than it did, meaning that the resident could be discharged from the nursing home for nonpayment. Slepicka v. State (Ill. Ct. App., 4th Dist., No. 12MR743, July 7, 2015).

Mary Slepicka entered a nursing home as a Medicare patient. When her Medicare nursing home coverage ran out in April 2011, she became a private-pay resident.  At the time Ms. Slepicka signed the private-pay contract, money from the sale of her house was her main asset. The nursing home did not place Ms. Slepicka in a Medicaid-certified bed until March 2012. After visiting a financial planner, Ms. Slepicka put the assets from the sale of her house in an annuity and applied for Medicaid. The state granted her benefits retroactive to June 2011.

The nursing home claimed it could not bill Medicaid for the days Ms. Slepicka was not in a Medicaid-certified bed, so it billed Ms. Slepicka. Ms. Slepicka did not pay the nursing home, and the nursing home served Ms. Slepicka with a notice of discharge. Ms. Slepicka appealed the discharge, arguing that she could not be charged for the days Medicaid covered. The nursing home argued it did not put Ms. Slepicka in a Medicaid-certified bed right away because it believed she had assets that she needed to spend down. The trial court granted the nursing home summary judgment, and Ms. Slepicka appealed.

The Illinois Court of Appeals affirms, holding that Medicaid is not required to cover expenses incurred by private-pay residents even if the resident is eligible for Medicaid, and that the nursing home was not required to move Ms. Slepicka into a Medicaid-certified bed. According to the court, “just because a resident is financially eligible for Medicaid, it does not necessarily follow that Medicaid will cover every expense the resident incurs during the period of eligibility, regardless of where the resident incurs the expense.” In addition, the court holds that the nursing home did not know that Ms. Slepicka would qualify for Medicaid as soon as she did, so it was not required to move her into a Medicaid-certified bed any sooner.